Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Alchemist

I just finished reading The Alchemist for the second time. Both times I've read it, I felt inspired. The book is about following your dream, your "Personal Legend". A story about a shepherd who follows his dream, this book tells about the ups and downs and struggles of following your true calling in life.

I enjoy it because it reinforces what I feel a lot of people forget about in life. And that is, you only live once and you only get one shot at chasing your dreams. I feel like I've seen a lot of people who aren't necessarily unhappy, but they have a hole, big or small, in their life. That hole is the thought that they passed up following their Personal Legend whether it be traveling around the world or following a certain career path. They've fallen into a daily routine in life and feel it's too late and too risky to do what they truly want to do. The Alchemist tells how fulfilling your Personal Legend isn't easy, but if you pay attention and put your trust in a higher being, you will be given signs and direction.

The book mentions four obstacles that stand in our way to confronting and fulfilling our dream. They are:
  • Impossible. We are told as a child and onward that what we want to do is impossible.
  • Love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid to hurt those we love.
  • Fear. We fear the defeats that will meet us on our path.
  • Not worthy. We renounce our joy and conquest when we finally arrive at our goal.

Throughout the entire book, there are many good lessons, words of wisdom and encouragement. However, I really enjoyed this little story right at the beginning of the text:

The Alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the Narcissus.

But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.

He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.

"Why do you weep?" the goddesses asked.

"I weep for Narcissus," the lake replied.

"Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus," they said, "for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand."

"But...was Narcissus beautiful?" the lake asked.

"Who better than you to know that?" the goddesses said in wonder, "After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!"

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:

"I weep for Naricssus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected."

Realize your beauty and potential, follow your dreams, and stay resilient in your quest.

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