A story that has deeply moved me already some years ago and every time since I read it since, is the one of the shepherd Santiago who sets out to literally follow his dreams.
I can truly say that I owe Santiago. Or better, I owe the author of his story, Paulo Coelho, who wrote “The Alchemist”.
When we first met personally a couple of years ago, there was a chemistry or magic between two like-minded men, that is hard to describe but has fueled my energy every day since then; a chemistry that made Paulo change his busy schedule for the day then and there in Hamburg, just to meet longer. A chemistry that is truly magic and I can feel every time I type an email to Paulo, still today.
What happened there and then and I called chemistry, would originally, a couple of hundred years back, have been called “alchemy”, in the sense of an “instinctual attraction or affinity”.
According to that definition is why Santiago, of the story, could be called an alchemist. Throughout his journey, he is learning to trust his instincts and follows his dream, being attracted to his highest good, succeeding over all circumstances and hindrances.
Like Santiago, so did Paulo follow his dream – and so did I and many others. And just recently I learned, that also Will Smith does so… calling “The Alchemist” his favorite book and himself an alchemist: “The Alchemist – that’s me. I am Santiago,” Smith says. “That book so illustrates something that I’ve felt innately my whole life: It’s better to die chasing your dreams than to live a comfortable life that is like a page-a-day inspirational calendar.”
Santiago is the main character in this story, illustrating that one can really have and be everything in life – by following one´s dreams without compromise and persistently. Then, as Paulo puts it, the whole universe conspires to help you get it…
This doesn’t always mean it is going to be easy. For Paulo it meant overcoming severe obstacles, like for example being institutionalized during his youth and being imprisoned by a so-called government in Brazil.
Also for the “Prince of Bel-Air” it took quite some sweat to grow from his humble childhood as the son of a school administrator and a refrigeration engineer into a global superstar.
What their stories have in common, is that they took a conscious decision to dream about a goal and follow that dream no matter what and deal with whatever comes up. Like Santiago in the story.
Other than persistence, what surely helps is a certain degree of flexibility and being able to work with what you have at that very moment. Or, as Will says: “I am so connected to symbolically being able to turn lead into gold. My grandmother used to say, “Life gives you a lemon, you go ahead and make lemonade.”
Like Paulo, who traveled quite a bit early on in his life through South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe, Santiago the shepherd spends several years traveling through Andalusia in southern Spain, enjoying the life of a pilgrim. He had fallen in love with the beautiful daughter of a merchant in a town he is soon to visit again. After only having spent a few hours talking with this girl, he could not forget her anymore. It even made him question his life as a shepherd and consider a more settled life.
Shortly before he arrives in the town where the girl lives, he decides to go to a gypsy fortune-teller to help him decipher a recurring dream that he had been having. He dreamt twice that a child is playing with his sheep and then takes him by the hand and brings him to the Pyramids of Egypt to show him the location of a hidden treasure. Always just before the child is going to reveal to him the exact location of the treasure, Santiago wakes up.
In short, Santiago did not have a clue of what the dream is he was going to pursue, he just had “this feeling” that there is something and was trying to figure it out. Ultimately, he decides to to sell his sheep and start a journey into the unknown with many events, finally reaching the pyramids. The story doesn’t end there and has a lot more details to it – the point I’d like to make is: you don’t need to have an immediate, crystal clear vision of what your dream is, what your purpose is, what your life is going to look like… on the contrary: I believe that you are finally on the right way, when you have this feeling of “going for it no matter what” and no matter the circumstances.
Same like Tim Thomas.
Well, maybe his determination is a bit farther out there than for many of us: Tim is the main character in Will Smith’s movie “Seven Pounds.” He had caused a car accident and seven people died, six strangers and his fiancée – so he decides to make up for it by drastically improving seven other lives. In the end, he gives his life, in the form of literally giving his heart (the organ!) to the woman he loves.
A mad man – of course!
Fiction – agree!
But: he is a person, persistently driven to accomplish his goal and overcomes all resistance and hurdles to accomplish it. You could say, he got to know his dream and lives it – even if in some rather morbid way.
For many (if not most) of us, it takes some form of crisis or catastrophe to realize that we are running into the wrong direction with our life or that we are not leading one at all, being on some weird kind of autopilot without purpose.
An early teacher of mine often even said: “we Humans only learn through catastrophes or deep thinking.”
If these are the alternatives, I’d love to invite all of you to simply close your eyes for half an hour once or twice a day – regularly. Call it meditation, call it getting self-centered – call it as you wish, but do it regularly, get to know yourself (or: “your self”?) and get an idea about this seed of a dream that is inside of you. In other words: become the alchemist!
In this context, you might want to have a look at Max Simon’s new website, especially if “meditation” always had a rather abstract meaning to you; to get a taste of his guided meditation, sign up for his newsletter and download for free: www.getselfcentered.com.