Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Alchemist

I have an inkling to write, but I am not sure what to write about. What's truly on my mind is a bit too personal to broadcast, so I am kind of at a loss. This brings me to the idea that I should use a writing strategy ( Ah HA!) that I teach my students to use. Genius. Let's see if any of these strategies actually produce anything blog worthy. :) "Writing off of Literature" is the chosen strategy for the day, so here we go...

Anyone ever heard of the book, The Alchemist? This was Erika's pick for book club last month. I had heard of it before, but I didn't realize how popular this book was. Or how widely spread this publication was. It's sold over 65 million copies in 150 countries, and is one of the best selling books in history. Wow. I had no idea. Having read all of that information on the front cover, I was really intrigued to read it and find out what all the fuss was about.

What I found was that within the confines of this book, there was no fuss. Yes, this was a brilliant book, but brilliant in a simple way. I suppose that is why it has become so popular. It's a book that anyone can read and take something away from. The ideas are not complex, and it's quite an easy read. I read it over a span of two days, and enjoyed it immensely.

The story follows a boy, Santiago, through his journey to find his "personal legend." This might be considered what we today call our "dream" or "life purpose," but I found that the more I read about Santiago the more I really liked calling it a personal legend. It kind of gives it a mythical quality, and to some that might make it seem unattainable, but to me it lends itself more to adventure.

Santiago travels across the desert, and finds himself in many different situations. At every destination he finds reasons, logical, good reasons, to stop his journey. He could create a life where he is and be comfortable. However, he treads on knowing that he will regret in the end if he doesn't continue seeking. He uses omens to guide him, and learns how to integrate himself into the nature of the world. He learns to allow his heart to speak to him, and he learns to truly know his heart.

As I read, I began thinking about my own "personal legend." Was I seeking it? Had it been fulfilled? I had a feeling of "Is this it?" pertaining to my own professional life. I know that teaching is something that I enjoy and I am good at it. I know that my heart is with these urban kids. But AM I fulfilled? Santiago found things that he was good at and enjoyed, but they weren't his personal legend. There was something more for him. Is there more for me? I guess in a way, it kind of woke me up out of a coma of daily routine. What have I been doing for that last nine years? Where am I going in the next nine? Will I be happy if I end those next nine in the same place? It's really a lot to ask yourself, and it's not always a pleasant conversation, if you are brutally honest.

There is a deep spiritual side to this book, and I was glad to see that. Again, I could parallel my life with Santiago. I am learning to relax and know that I may have these questions about my own life. I know that if it is something I seek God's guidance in, I will find the answers to my questions. God will lead me on to the next destination even if I feel fine where I am at. Looking back, I can see He has already done this numerous times. I just wasn't paying enough attention, and maybe that is just it. Maybe that is how Santiago became so connected with the earth and her elements. By sheer observation and allowing himself to be completely aware of his environment. I know by nature, I am not extremely observant. There is a tendency in my life to focus on what is right in front of me, to let the rest of the world become a blur around me. I realize now, that there is a need for me to make a conscious effort to change this. I want to see beyond me.

Along with Santiago, I took a journey myself while reading this book. I don't know all the answers, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't question. It just means I should use God's path to discover what's next, and understand that the walk will make me stronger once I am there.
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