And when you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you achieve it
~~Paulo Coelho from The Alchemist
It’s no secret to the people who live inside my bubble, that I’ve been unsettled all summer. That I’m antsy and tackling bones that won’t rest. On the days that I don’t travel for work, I walk through my flowers in the morning so I can catch the sun’s rays on the petals as well as check for dry soil and droopy leaves. It’s necessary and sets the stage for a productive day.
Each evening, thoughts drift to What am I doing? What is my purpose? Why am I here?
I was the daydreamer in my family–the weird kid with a penchant for Grimm’s Fairy Tales and wild horses. Someone with a five-on-the-Richter scale fantasy life held back by responsibility and the closed door of a confessional. All curled up on a couch, reading about other people doing all the things I wanted to do: travel the world, save someone’s life, protect the innocent, scribble pretty passages on parchment pages for other people to read.
I’d often be lost in a world of my own, and didn’t require the protection of wool blankets and night lights for me to carry those vivid imaginations into the real world. I knew I’d grow up, and be responsible despite my hankering for the high seas, dragons, and unicorns. I did go to college, secured a great job, and launched a couple of different careers in healthcare. I had resigned myself to process improvement algorithms and CMS quality metrics.
Then I started to write.
And I started to have dreams again.
In your childhood, how many times have you heard one of the following?
- If you tell your wish before you blow out your candles, it won’t come true
- Don’t get your hopes up
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Think of a vivid dream you’ve had–either now or in your childhood. Remember how it made your skin tingle because it felt so real. How the hair stood up on the back of your neck or perhaps, how you gasped because you could feel yourself falling and trying to wake up.
Maybe you didn’t want to rouse because the dream was so sweet, laced with serenity and clarity. Maybe it was about someone you loved, someone you lost, or that baby sleeping in the room next to you. Perhaps you resisted the flutter of opening eye lids, or like me, would try to go back to sleep to resume the reverie.
How often have you smashed your joy because you thought things were going too well? Didn’t dare to wish for something you feared wouldn’t come true. That the shoe was going to fall off the other foot.
How many times have you gotten excited about an inspired idea only to have someone you love and respect hack it down with common sense and good intentions? I don’t want you to be disappointed.
What if we were to take a different approach? Stand toe to toe with our wishes and dare them not to come true. Smash the critics, release the dandelion seeds, grab the star, and put the DO in just do it.
I’m grateful for my job and the food it puts on the table, but it doesn’t feed my soul like birds and bees and flowers and trees. My heart doesn’t swell with love and awe when I look at a spreadsheet, or hop on an airplane.
On average, I read one or two books/week–devouring words like it’s a last meal. For most of the summer, The Alchemist had been buried under Seven Brief Lessons in Physics and The Atomic Weight of Love. More than once, the burnt orange covered beckoned me to open, but I ignored the siren’s call of pretty parchment and opted for words I thought would be easier to grasp.
The Great Gatsby
The Old Man and the Sea
But, Did you Die?
And yet, the book lingered in the spaces between mundane brain fire. What is an alchemist? Who is the story about? Do I know anybody who has read it?
I shoved the questions to the side and turned the pages of Thank and Grow Rich and practiced gratitude for thirty days straight. Straight to E-Squared–experiments, revelations, insights from a woman who lives thirty miles from me and travels the world because she willed it to be so. Even then, someone was conspiring to send me a timely message–pre-reads that were a perfect prologue to what came next.
The Alchemist moved from the shelf to the on-deck spot in my reading nook.
Did I move it there? I don’t remember doing so…perhaps the children from Miss Peregrine’s had been playing in the library.
I sit in the library with my husband almost every morning. The birds spray sunflower seeds from the feeders as we watch out the front window and greet the day. He peruses the newspaper while I systematically read the day’s passages from 365 Tao, The Daily Stoic, and Daily Secret. Sometimes, I’ll read a passage out loud, sometimes I’ll snap a picture and text it to a friend who might like the message for that moment. This daily ritual has become more sacred than my yoga practice and more consistent than the walrus-type running that often follows.
For weeks, the parchment orange peeked out from under my iPad. When did I buy this? Why haven’t I read it yet?
Curiosity made me open to the first page–the shepherd boy and his dream made me stay.
I read The Alchemist on two airplane rides–out to Little Rock, AR and then back to Kansas City. I texted my friend midway through, Have you read this? I can’t put it down.
Have you met Fatima? She texted back.
Her words felt like a promise that somehow I must be on the right path.
Paying attention to omens.
Watching for signs.
Listening to the wind. Imagining that I could send messages to my loved ones via the Levanter.
Santiago, the crystal merchant, Fatima, the Alchemist and a sycamore tree. My dreams had returned.
The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.
What we put forth, we receive a thousand times over. It’s more than karma, it’s a simple truth and not-so-hidden secret to happiness. We are connected by blood, friendship, experience, tributaries, highways, and faith. The message of love I give to my family is one that reverberates to my neighbors and on down the line.
What you do. What you say. What you think. It all matters. WE all matter.
No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.
This ramble is not only a tribute to Paulo’s words, but a love letter to you and to anyone who has ever shoved aside the naysayers in pursuit of a dream. Even at fifty, I feel the stirrings as strongly as a young shepherd boy who dropped everything he knew, crossed the desert, and ultimately found his heart’s desire.
Tell me, friend, do you know your heart’s desire? Are you chasing it right now?
If you’ve read the book, you know why I am so moved. If you haven’t read it, please find me at my Instagram account.
For the entire month of August, I am going to be posting a photographic perspective of Santiago’s story in hopes that you’ll feel as inspired, moved, and full of joy as I was. I’m still searching for my Personal Legend and would love some friends for the journey.
All quotes from ― Paulo Coelho,
Find me on Instagram right here!