Posts Tagged ‘ dream ’

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream

Everyone on the face of the Earth has a treasure that lies waiting for them.”

“In order to arrive you must follow the signs.
God inscribed on the world the path that each man must follow.
It is just a matter of reading the inscription He wrote for you.”

“The glory of the world is transitory, and we should not measure our lives by it,
but by the choice we make to follow our Personal Legend,
to believe in our utopias and to fight for our dreams.
We are all protagonists of our own lives,

and it is often the anonymous heroes who leave the deepest mark.”
(from Paulo Coelho’s acceptance speech to Brazilian Academy of Letters)

“The closer you get to your dream,
the more your Personal Legend becomes your real reason for living.”

The Alchemist

For the past two years, I have been searching for some person or word inspired by God to restore meaning in my life … I have found what I was looking for in Paulo Coelho and his novel, The Alchemist. After reading this book, I felt like I came alive again. I had feared that I would not find a way to dig out from underneath the negativity I had piled upon myself, and oftentimes felt tempted to surrender to an ever imminent feeling of defeat. And then, I learned of this book from a friend… it couldn’t have been suggested at a better time because, as I mention in my first post, I am trying to pull my life together.

I had heard of The Alchemist earlier in my life in passing… you know, like one of those books you know the title of and recognized it as a classic work of literature, but don’t know what it is about and don’t really have any inclination to read it. The Alchemist was that to me, until a dear friend of mine just recently suggested that I read it. She had just finished it and suggested that I read it, saying it was a story about a boy’s journey to realize his dreams. Normally, I don’t think that would have really caught my interest, but for some reason, I was intrigued by this description, likely because I am in a state now where I am trying to flush out my dreams and determine in which direction God will have me travel. I would like to thank my dear friend, for she has given me a gift that I could never have anticipated… the gift of hope and anticipation for greatness in my life!

I thank God for the gift of new perspective. My eyes have been renewed by seeing life through the eyes of a simple shepherd boy who had hope and faith in a dream larger than his present circumstances could ever foretell. Despite the immense difficulties that threatened to thwart the realization of his destiny, he persevered and chose to continue his journey instead of accepting defeat. To quote the book, “…he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure. ‘I am an adventurer, looking for treasure,’ he said to himself.” For him, quitting would take the fun out of his journey. As stated in the book, “It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting.”

That scenario speaks to me directly. In these past years, I have burrowed myself into a state of such deep regret that it has immobilized me. I have fixated on the mistakes I have made that I have allowed them to hinder me from moving forward. But looking at the shepherd boy fills me with such inspiration. I need to actively learn how to see my mistakes as moments of life experience, moments that carry lessons to be used as examples of how not to handle things next time… the key point being that I should not shelter myself from situations that will test what I learned from my mistakes, but face them head on with a new and greater awareness!

What I also love about how Paulo Coelho depicted this situation is that he was very real about it. Before coming to this state of hope and determined persistence, the shepherd boy was tempted to yield to the resistance created by his mistake. After being robbed, he thought regretfully to himself:

“When I had my sheep, I was happy, and I made those around me happy. People saw me coming and welcomed me, he thought. But now I’m sad and alone. I’m going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me. I’m going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine. And I’m going to hold on to what little I have, because I’m too insignificant to conquer the world.”

I absolutely LOVE that Paulo wrote him realistically. I know that everyone of his readers must have been able to relate to this feeling of despair and utter regret, knowing that we had things better a time before our present misfortune and disparaging ourselves for allowing us to get to this state. It’s human nature, and like us, the shepherd spoke ill of his future and for a short time there, was tempted to believe it. He even thought to blame God for his misfortune, saying that “this was the way God repaid those who believed in their dreams.” But instead of succumbing to the temptation of quitting, he realized that his destiny still remained and that a treasure was waiting to be found, by him. So instead of stopping his life story there, he had faith in his destiny, proclaiming to himself, “I am an adventurer, looking for treasure.” This unfortunate event was only a mild pothole along the road.

His outlook of transcendence is an example to me, to us all. He acknowledged his part in his misfortune and decided to learn from his mistake of so easily trusting a stranger. Yet, he did not fixate on his mistake. Rather, he looked for beauty in the seemingly lowest of moments. He focused on the positives of his experience, centering himself on his accomplishment of reaching Africa and coming that much closer to realizing his destiny.

I hope that in life, I can face each day with such optimistic vigor. In every day, every moment, every breath, there lies beauty. There is always something to be praised. The challenge is to train your eye to see it. Once you can accomplish that, beauty is all you’ll come to see, in every circumstance. God is EVERYWHERE. He is not hiding. Rather, it is our human eye that fails to recognize his presence in every living moment. Here is an analogy to better explain my point. Don’t credit this to me; I may have heard this from somewhere a few years back. I am realizing this now: When you are driving, your hands naturally guide the vehicle to whichever point upon which your eyes are fixed. So if you are fixated upon the car approaching you in the opposite lane, your hands will naturally reposition the car toward this oncoming car. But if you are focused on the lane you are in, you will continue to safely drive the course. I have been focusing on my past mistakes, and have thus been living in the past. My life has been unable to move forward because my gaze is pointed on what is behind me. I feel closer to God after reading this book.

I may have finished reading this book Friday, June 20, 2008, but its words and the images it evoked still replay in my mind. I am certain that this book and its author have become bright threads in the tapestry of my life journey. The story was especially affecting to me as a Christian. I felt closer to God after reading this book, and that feeling still remains. Reading it, I just knew that Paulo Coelho must be a Christian because he speaks in the language of Christ. I cannot even express how much this blessed me. As my faith diminished during the last two years, my relationship with God grew gradually more distant. It was not until last January that I felt an undeniable separation from God, which truly scared my. I committed myself to seeking the Lord and have been praying for redirection in my life. I was feeling like my life was headed back in the wrong direction when I learned about The Alchemist. Reading it, it was as though my soul was being cleaned throughout and uplifted in encouragement. As I said earlier, I felt closer to God, which I so desperately needed. I heard Him through the words of his creation, Paulo Coelho.

I know that I am destined for something amazing! I was under so much spiritual fire in these last two years and at the point of almost succumbing fully to its will, when God sent me this light to guide me back to the path on which He has destined me to be! Wow… my destiny MUST be something amazing and important that the Universe conspired at this exact time to remind me that my dreams are realizable… the time when I most needed such encouragement! I just have to trust undoubtedly in the strength God has put within me and trust that He has portioned me more than the right amount to surpass ALL of resistance’s efforts to prevail against me. Thank you, Lord for this new view on life! It is the same life, but ahh… it looks SO different to me now. I never thought that I would reach this point of sublime certainty in my clarity and clarity in my certainty of Your truths in my life. But Lord, am I ever paying attention to Your signs now.

I highly recommend this book as a read for EVERYONE. I especially think it should be a necessary read for school-aged children, whose dreams are so vibrant and fragile, full of fervor but slipping so easily to the wayside as they grow. The lessons it teaches are invaluable. Also, I particularly recommend the book to those walking with Christ. You will be greatly blessed to see how God’s words flow through His faith-filled creation, Paulo Coelho.

I feel it only fitting to end this post with the words of the man who inspired both this post and this blog. Be blessed and may God bless you and Paulo Coelho, right where you are now.

Life

What is this force that drives us far from the comfort of the familiar
and makes us take up challenges instead,
even though we know that the glory of this world is only transitory?
I believe this impulse is called the search for the meaning of life.
Over many years of seeking a definitive answer to this question in books, art and science,
and in both the dangerous and easy paths I have followed,
I have found many answers.
I am convinced now that a definitive answer will never be given to us in this life,
but that, at the last, at the moment when we stand once more before the Creator,
we will understand each opportunity that was offered to us.

– Paulo Coelho

Resisting Resistance

I have been stuck in this dream state, resisting action for these past 2 years. College is supposed to be a time when I am supposed to be doingacting toward my dream(s). I am one of the fortunate ones in that I already know what my destiny is and even how I’m going to get there. And yet, I’m not doing anything to cultivate myself in other areas, or even fully devoting myself in preparation for my career path. I feel stuck in this place in between adolescence and adulthood, at a standstill because both sides are equally pulling me in their direction. I know I am supposed to yield to the pull of adulthood, and yet, I can’t seem to cut the rope to adolescence.

I found an article that perfectly articulates these troubles and provides excellent solutions to battling them. All is not hopeless with Christ. Amen? Amen!

According to the article, Getting Unstuck: Stepping Toward Your Dreams:

Resistance is the derailing force we experience when we attempt any potentially good thing — a painting, an article, a marathon or a marriage. It strikes anyone who hopes to move to a higher plane — in relationships, spirituality, academics, creative work or business.

– Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art

That statement cannot be any more true. Whenever we try to better ourselves, we can be certain that the devil will try to deter us from accomplishing success. He is directly against any goodnesses in our favor.

According to the article, there are 5 things we can do to overcome resistance:

  1. Expect It — if you’re trying to better yourself, you had better believe that your efforts will be strongly opposed by Satan, and that such opposition will manifest itself in your thoughts and events of your daily life
  2. Face It — by facing the resistance and not running away from the thoughts of defeat that fill your mind, you come to recognize resistance when it occurs in your life and will know how to challenge it. Don’t run away, don’t fear. Stand strong and grapple the resistance in your life
  3. Claim It — Change your “want” to “are.” As you work steadfastly toward your aim, don’t continue to tell yourself that you want to be a dancer, but that you are a dancer. Revamp your vocabulary, removing those words of uncertainty to words of truth. You are on the path to becoming a journalist, You are talented. When you tell speak to yourself in this way, your commanding the statement as a reality, and will be more likely to do things toward accomplishing your aim.
  4. Seek Support — Resistance will give you its hardest hits, but linking yourself up to encouraging individuals will fortify you against its efforts. Identify professionals in your (intended) field who are willing to serve as a mentor, or form an accountability partnership with a friend so that when you feel like succumbing to defeat, they can edify you and set you right again.
  5. Take Small, Manageable Steps — Break your goals into small steps. Accomplishing a small task is less intimidating than taking on a huge project. Cutting your goal into smaller steps will increase both your motivation and likelihood to see it the whole project through to finish. when you see a small task to accomplish

That was just my synopsis of the 5 steps. If you want the entire write-up, click the link I posted above. It’s well worth a read, and not much longer than what I wrote.

I want to close with the ending quote from the article. As you read it, know that you were created by God for an important purpose. It does not matter how small or insignificant you and your dreams may seem in your mind because they are large in God’s eyes. Don’t compare yourself to another person’s destiny because in they are equal in value when achieved for the will of God. Be blessed.

“If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children, you hurt me, you hurt the planet. You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite God Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter further along its path back to God.”

– Stephen Pressfield

Leave the Childish Things Behind…

I had a long phone conversation with my mom yesterday. My mom and I have a beautiful relationship. We have a deep friendship with one another, and yet somehow, we’ve managed to maintain the mother-daughter dynamic. I think the secret is that we respect each other in our friendship. We’re both open with each other about our personal lives, but respect the boundaries of our mother-daughter relationship when called for. I don’t know if that’s a good explanation or not, but all I know is that I’m thankful for the friendship I have with my mom. I wish most girls could have such a friendship with their mothers.

I have been open with my mom about my personal self-discovery struggles almost since I first started wavering. So last night, she called me to encourage me. With the relationship we have, she has the privilege of knowing me as much as I know myself (although sometimes I think she knows me better than I even know myself). She knows that I don’t like to impose myself on people, and therefore often opt to be in the background. She told me that I adopt the role of a follower when I am really meant to lead. Listening to her, I knew what she said is true because I’ve felt it within myself. I just haven’t allowed myself to break from the background and step up where I belong. What really stuck out to me last night, though, was when she told me to “leave the childish things behind.” Being in college, I’ve felt the pressure to do just that and I think that this diminished confidence has come from the fear of letting go of the childish things, the things that I’ve known my whole life, to accept responsibility for myself and my actions. That’s been a daunting reality for me these past two years, but now I just feel so immature in my fear to move on. When she said that to me, it was as if something in my mind said to me, “Of course… I just need to let go and move on.” That chapter of my life is over and instead of looking to the future as a dreaded fate, I need to embrace it as an adventure. I’m entering a new and different stage in life

What was most exciting was that I reached the point in The Alchemist where the shepherd changed his outlook on his early misfortunes in Africa, seeing them as experiences from which to learn. They were all part of his life’s adventure. I feel so inspired by this character. Even though he made mistakes and became wholly discouraged, he found a way to rise above. He didn’t let that be the end of his journey. He didn’t let that stop him from achieving his dream. I need to take after his example. Although I have made mistakes in the past, they won’t be the end of me. I can work through them and still realize my dream.

I think I’m going to finish the book today 🙂