“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
–The King of Salem, THE ALCHEMIST
I first heard of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho a few months back during an interview I saw with Will Smith on YouTube, where he discussed his perspective on himself and how he was influenced by this book. I almost though to read it then, but I must admit I was a bit intimidated. It seemed like it might be one of these weighty titles with deep concepts that I might not get but would have to pretend to at parties (c’mon, I know I’m not the only one who does this).
Then, watching Super Soul Sunday (natch, bitches!), I saw Oprah’s interview with the author and said finally, OK. This feels like something I should read. I’m glad I did. It’s interesting and affirming to have a realization about the world, the universe, God and the inner workings of life (weighty stuff, I know), and to have those ideas re-affirmed by others. Every day, I seek to deepen my understanding of the Law of Attraction so that I can better serve myself and others. Making some sense out of what seems to be the scraps of life can be challenging when you’ve spent so much time being convinced how unimportant you are. One of the things I loved best about The Alchemist— is that at it’s core is an allegory story about the “hero’s journey” — one man’s quest to find himself, claim his power and place in the world, is that when we first meet “the boy”, Santiago, he is a shepherd.
Now there are of course many religious parallels to the shepherd, but what I appreciated about it in the literal sense is that here is the story of an “ordinary” person. He was not born into wealth or riches, he didn’t have the best training or grooming. He was just someone sensitive enough to follow the signs, watch the omens and take action even when he was afraid. And that, is really what it’s all about.
I highly recommend all who might be interested to read The Alchemist. Meantime, here are some lessons learned from the book that are useful to all.
1. When you make a bold step in pursuit of your dreams, it can seem as if you’ve lost everything.
“As he mused about these things, he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure.
I”m an adventurer, looking for treasure,” he said to himself.”
For whatever reason, when you take a bold step to pursue your dreams, it can sometime feel as though in the pursuit of our new mission (or Personal Legend as the book calls it), that all of a sudden, the little we had before is gone. However this is a necessary step that I’ve come to look at as a sign of good things, as opposed to some bad omen that taking the risk should have never been done. Breaking out of your comfort zone is supposed to feel uncomfortable. You should be somewhere you’ve never been before wondering “what the hell am I doing here?”. Living is the answer. We’ve conditioned ourselves into such dullness that aliveness feels foreign. Yet, that aliveness is where the magic happens.
That’s not to say the the new place is always easy. Sometimes when you quit that job in search of your passion your bank account might question your sanity. You might have to downgrade your life or shed all the armor and security blankets that were keeping you safe. That breeze is cold sometimes, but always worth it in the long run. True success only comes from you leaning into discomfort and fear of failure long enough to make it to the other side. There’s a reason why most people don’t even try — because sometimes it sucks to try. But you can decide to make it, and despite the current circumstances, you can turn every obstacle into an opportunity.
2. Above all else, true success has no greater ally than the courage within you.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
Our hearts, fragile and fickle though they are, hold our greatest asset: courage. Our hearts are what finds a way where there is one, ever beating, changing and merging with our every step. Our heart is always in the present moment, acting and reacting. It speaks the “Language of the World” as it is a part of us, but yet remains a mystery. It increases our capacity for love, trust, harmony and joy. Of course, it can also be shattered and trampled on, but while we must always guard it, we must never harden it. Boundaries are respectful, atrophy is death.
To get to the true desires of our hearts, it is that very heart that must and will be tested. We must plunge deep into its depths and pull out a courage and strength far greater and deeper than ourselves alone. Oftentimes, more than once along the journey. As hard as that may be, who we become after we do it is part of the reward. When you’re neck and neck with someone in terms of ability, the only thing that you have left is what’s in your heart. Your courage and fearlessness will always set you apart.
3. The universe is conspiring to help you achieve everything you want.
“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
It’s a really mind blowing concept when you just sit back from it for a moment or two. When we are on our missions, playing full out, doing all that we can to achieve what we want, the universe actually pays attention, and seeks to conspire and move things in our direction so that we can have it. We’ve all had those dark nights of the soul where this can seem like the farthest thing from the truth, right? Where it feels that everything is working against you. The reason it feels so good to highlight this lesson is because that’s not true. What it is of course we have to be careful of is being clear about what we want and expect. Because the universe is not separating what’s good or bad, it’s just giving you want you really want. In all things, ALL things is the opportunity for something amazing. Even when it doesn’t seem that way, there is always a crack of light shining though.
If you choose to believe it is all for your good, it will all be for your good.
4. Our intuition is one of our most valuable assets in life, for it is connected to the mystery of the beyond and seeks to guide us in the here and now.
“The boy was beginning to understand that intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.”
Life teaches us the horrible and destructive habit of training ourselves away from our own intuition. We use “rational thought” and “common sense” to talk ourselves out of what we already know. To me, there’s no greater frustration then when I don’t follow my gut. When I knew better, but let myself be talked out of what I knew in my spirit was the right thing to do.
My intuition is invaluable in the work I do now, but it’s invaluable to all of us. Reading this passage only helped me affirm the power of our inner “hunches”, that whether its rational or not, we MUST all learn to trust our intition to the point where we act on it, because we recognize that the very source of this knowledge is beyond us. It’s from the part of us that knows all things and is connected to the larger Source/God Force. Now, who doesn’t want to listen to that?
Also what I’ve discovered is that like any muscle, it can grow weaker and stronger. The more you use and trust your intuition the more it speaks to you, so start listening today!
5. Who we become in the process of pursuing our dreams is just as important as the dream itself.
“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
What I’ve come to understand about both success and failure, is that the true value of all these peaks and valleys is the evolution of our spirit. The true goal behind every goal that I have is knowing that I was strong and tenacious and courageous enough to pursue it in the first place. Then I can set bigger, more fun, more outrageous goals and enjoy who I become in the seeking of those ideals.
Learning to value the becoming element was key for me, because I used to be paralyzed by the fear of failure. What if I didn’t do it right? What if I let everyone down? What if, etc. So many and so often, that I would rather just stay in bed then try and fall on my face. But when you allow your victory to be in the daring itself, then the second you get out of bed, you win.
So in all things, seek both the goal AND the path, and happiness finds you upon your first step.
Have you read The Alchemist? Let me know your thoughts!
In service of your visionary legacy, I remain,