Monday, February 25, 2013

Thoughts from The Alchemist

I’m currently reading The Alchemist. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.  As Amazon’s so eloquently describes, “The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams.”

I’m still scared every day. Scared that life with throw another curve ball and I’ll break. Still having mini-panic attacks in the morning. I’m starting to see that as each day passes, I am ok.  I deal with what comes, as I proactively build my life, I continue to be ok.  I still have a strong urge to control what is going to happen to eliminate all possible risk, but I’m learning to give in to change and realize that I have what it takes to survive and to thrive - and to one day find joy in the uncertainty. This thought from Santiago (“the boy”) in The Alchemist articulates what I’m working toward:  “Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens and that tribesman fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we are living right now.”

I’ve been very guarded in talking about my feelings about switching jobs. Everyone asks “are you sad to leave?” or “are you excited for the new job?” and I’ve answered very flatline “yeah, I guess”.  It isn’t because I lack sadness or excitement, it is because the risk of daring to change when things are calm and the uncertainty of what that brings is paralyzing.  Santiago realized, “When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”  This perfectly describes my life. Every decision that I’ve made has opened doors I never expected.

The flip side, when I’ve settled for safe (reference: my marriage!), has been a curse. When I wasn’t brave enough to make a decision to stay true to myself. The boy learns this lesson early on in the book when he worked for a man who owned a crystal shop that was successful enough to enable him to continue living his safe life, but not successful enough to allow the man to travel: “’I don’t want to change anything, because I don’t know how to deal with change. I’m used to the way I am.’  The boy didn’t know what to say. The old man continued, “You have been a real blessing to me. Today, I understand something I didn’t see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse.”

Here’s to counting blessings of change!

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