On the downside of January. So much snow and cold this year. There have been a few sunshiny days, but mostly gray. It’s been a long month of trying to get my health issues in check (the wheels of diagnosis, just like the wheels of justice, grind ever so slowly), squelching subsequent anxiety, reading a ton and sewing.
We had our first MoDA (mother/daughter) bookclub meeting over lunch last week. Good times. Even Cate caught the vision and wanted to talk about ‘Princess Books’.
So, about the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Not our book club selection but a recent read. At first, I sort of dismissed it as trying to be more than it actually is. In fact, I think I had actually read it before, without any impact obviously, probably thought it was pseudo pop philosophy. But on this reading I found things to treasure up, which is interesting. I like to think I have a highly developed and finely tuned crap detector and a few months ago would have found quotes from this book very Hallmarky Malarkey. I can only attribute my softening attitude to….I dunno. Winter living, perhaps? Or maybe that I have privately (meaning in my own head) embellished and added to the book to suit my purposes. When we take ideas and remembered text from other literary works and bring them to what we are currently reading, it creates synthesis and synchronicity. And such synthesis and synchronicity allows us to think deeply and with more understanding. Yup, happened here.
At any rate, the little fable touches on many themes. I like this about fear:
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,’ the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. ‘Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself… People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.
Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.’”
One question to ask myself here, then: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Think about it. (Bike across America!)
"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
And then I thought of fear themes throughout literature. From Macbeth, Lord of the Flies, Wizard of Oz, Edgar Allen Poe, even, and the whole Gothic fear thing - where this thing might happen or it might not, it’s the place in between, that flux that makes us so uncomfortable and where fear gets all its power. Hey, that’s modern life/free floating anxiety, I recognize you.
And then from Dune: Fear is the great destroyer.
And again in my private in–my-own-head bookclub, I interjected the pop quote:
Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them. ~Brendan Francis
See what I mean? By my bringing more to my reading, then suddenly a book (even a just okay book) becomes more.
And then of course the book concludes with this over arching truth:
The real treasure is in the journey itself
Santiago’s dream was to make it to the pyramids, but the adventure that he found himself on in order to get to those pyramids taught him more than he ever thought possible. By the time he reached the pyramids his life had changed forever.
Which makes me think of the quote: The way we measure the value of a pursuit or goal is by what we become in the process.
It’s not the goal, per se. It’s the journey, eh?
Which is, all the more reason, why I need to get a bike.