” . . . {T}he 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.” – Paulo Coelho.

I could make this entire blog post a series of quotations from the book, but I won’t.

I first came across The Alchemist in a series of Kindle books that I ‘backed up for archival purposes.’  I had never heard of him, and never heard of the book. Then, and I admit It completely escapes me, I read somewhere else about how fantastic this book is.  It might even have been a book on writing by Orson Scott Card.  I knew then I had to read it, but I knew nothing about what it was about (the reference had fled my mind remember).

It is a remarkably short volume for one so powerful, and reads like a philosophical adventure story.  Seems oxymoronic to call anything philosophical an adventure story, but that’s really what it is.  In journeying to the pyramids, our shepherd realizes her personal dreams and is therefore better able to be in touch with himself.  In knowing is own heart and mind he can achieve true happiness which is the greatest treasure.

Other than Harry Potter, I am not generally moved to make changes in my life.  And, to be clear, I’m not saying that The Alchemist changed my life and sent me off into the desert, but in a way it has come at an interesting time.  Of late I have been thinking a lot about writing.  Numerous people, yes mostly family to be honest, have praised my writing and said that I should pursue it.  Self-doubt and general loathing for my own prose, combined with my own lack of self-discipline have kept me from steadily writing.  While I am an adult with responsibilities that prevent me from running off into the desert, I can still quietly continue writing and send out those stories I think most worthy.  Even if I don’t get published, ever, frustrating as that may be, I will at least be doing something that is more spiritually rewarding than working in call centre sales.

I could even see parallels to Joseph Campbell in here: the hero’s journey.  The call to adventure, the magical helpers, etc.  The world navel.  All that fun stuff.

One last point.  Anyone who knows me, will probably jump all over my quote at the start of this post.  I, an atheist making a quote regarding God.  The sky has fallen!  But my own belief is that it is just a language thing.  Is there a God, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, you name it.  They are all just names, but are all referencing something universal to humankind.  It could for sure be an external deity, it could be something more akin to mother nature: the sublime in our own world.  It could even be mental (think of Dumbledore statement  to Harry in Deathly Hallows: of course it’s happening in your head, but why does that mean it’s not real?).


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