A few weekends ago, I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for the first time. I had it on my shelf for a little over three years. Several friends had read it and raved about the book. Two weeks ago, one friend suggested that it was a timely read for me given my current path and position in this grand journey we call life.
Taking that most recent advice to read it, I drove to Starbucks one evening and read it. I could not put it down and even ignored my hunger to finish it. The story really spoke to me. The journey that Santiago embarks on in pursuit of his Personal Legend (i.e. happiness and true calling) is one that I can currently relate to. Almost four years ago, I left my flock of sheep (my corporate career) in pursuit of my true calling. It was a difficult decision and one that I felt I simply could not actually make. Just like Santiago, I struggled with the decision and found ways to convince myself that my heart was simply wrong and that all of the signs pointing me in a different direction were misguided.
Once he leaves his flock, Santiago’s journey takes him to so many exotic places and he encounters so many amazing people along the way. His experiences are rich and he makes the most of them. I won’t completely give away the book and no need to because I am still on my journey. I am about halfway through my version of Santiago’s journey and this book helped me be more aware of my experiences and subtle signs that may be guiding me in the right direction.
Perhaps the most valuable lesson the book taught me was to always listen to my heart. It suggested that often we learn to tune out our hearts and simply do what others expect of us. We ignore that inner urge to do that thing we are so passionate about and we are dissuaded from taking the risks of pursuing a new and potentially unchartered path. Santiago is advised several times to listen to his heart carefully and to beware of his heart’s vulnerability when it comes to fear of getting close to our calling. Sometimes the heart will want to guard us from getting hurt because that calling is so precious and vulnerable. The book suggests that when our heart cries we have found that thing that moves us the most. There are two things in my life that get me emotional every single time I think about it. Coincidentally these are the two things I care about the most in my life. I’m moving along the path of one. The other, my heart is currently too scared to pursue.