Alchemy

There comes a time in every blogger’s life when breaking away from journal-style blog posts associated with a trip to New York State is the best course of action.

For me, this is one of those times. I’m too worried about “logical explanations” tonight – and I’m motivated to tie in Edward Abbey.

  • I have been moved on countless occasions by the works of Abbey, a “unique” nature writer whose essays, journals and “handbooks” equip readers with motivation to save wilderness as well as the knowledge they need to do so (not that he ever encouraged “monkey wrenching” intentionally). I interpret the writings of Abbey as a call to action.
  • Søren Kierkegaard’s “Diary of a Seducer” actually exposed me to the manipulations of some men and naivety of some women in such a pronounced manner that I learned lessons regarding each gender I shall never forget.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrated the evils of a “perfect” people (I never disliked the extreme religious right until I spent a semester tearing apart “The Scarlet Letter,” as elementary as it sounds to list this among books I’ll never forget).
  • Lessons and tidbits and tragedies and subplots of countless other works seem to fill my mind, seeping only when a situation in my life calls for the something I learned from them. I’m glad to have this knowledge.

Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” is going somewhere on this list.

I am roughly 50 percent finished with it, but what I’ve gained already seems completely applicable to anyone’s life, including my own.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Coelho wrote the thing specifically for me.
Here’s what I know so far: A young shepherd (who took on this low-level occupation by choice so he could travel) is responding to a dream about treasure waiting for him in Egypt. A gypsy told him to pursue his treasure, which he initially disregards. He next crosses path with an “undercover” king who tells him about folks who’ve lived out their dreams and folks who haven’t – and the tragedy that is life when dreams are not followed. “It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish,” the king tells the shepherd. “Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.” He went on to say “all of the world conspires” to help one achieve this personal legend. The book carries on as the shepherd sells his sheep and eventually joins a caravan to Egypt, nearly abandoning his Personal Legend in the process. That’s as far as I’ve read.

Back to “logical explanations.” For being a person extremely moved by passion and emotion, I have an awful tendency to allow logic to stand in the way.

I do not act on a passion, for instance, if it could not – in logic – work out.
My passion gives me great ideas, but my logic recommends I keep them to myself.

Which is crazy.

  1. Regarding faith … I’ve encountered a thousand reasons to have none of it in God. Yet I continue to believe – and feel similar regarding the Buffalo Bills.
  2. Regarding parenthood … I’ve read numerous books on raising children, some written specifically for men in my position as a single parent. Yet I continue to dismiss much of it as inapplicable, let love guide my actions and believe, overall, I‘m doing a good job.

These two integral areas of my life are driven by passion and not logic. Low and behold, I’m most satisfied with the way they’re working out.

Here’s some of where “The Alchemist” can help:

Regarding work … I went to college to do great things for the world through writing. I’m not doing that now. It’s more logical to wait until my daughter needs me for less or she has a mother to share her attention.

Regarding location … Since graduating college, I’ve always lived in places that are best for my daughter – not places I prefer. I have wanted to return to New York State since graduating, but have come up with 1,000 hypothetical, logical reasons not to.

Regarding love … This can be such a pain in the ass. There’s so much risk involved with throwing your heart out there (I‘ve never learned the craft of casual “dating“), hoping feelings are reciprocated, investing emotions when it feels like you’ve no more to give … it’s more logical to not take this step.

Regarding travel … While a vague trouble spot, I come across at least five local and distant places each week I want to visit at some point in my life. I know I can experience these places of natural and cultural splendor, but it’s more logical to, again, wait until Kalista is able to participate or won’t make me feel bad for leaving her behind.

So what the crap am I doing, according to Coelho?

Floating.
Just taking up space.

I’ve apparently become so accustomed to ignoring these six pillars as a whole (faith, parenthood/family, work, location, love and travel) that I’ve kind of forgotten about them.

According to Coelho, four obstacles stand in the way of our dreams:
  • We’ve been told since childhood everything we want to do is impossible, so there comes a times when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul that it’s invisible
  • We know what we want, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream
  • We fear defeats; we must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how
  • We feel we do not deserve our dream and ultimately fail to realize it; the mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt

These obstacles boil down to “logic,” according to Justin Schoenberger.

“But if you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here.” – Coelho

I really like the way this guy thinks. Perhaps I should heed his advice.

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3 Responses to Alchemy

  1. Sara says:

    You should unblock me : )

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