Updated: May 23, 2020
It's been about 8 or 9 years since I picked up that beautiful book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and I just finished reading it for the second time this evening.
I felt inspired to read it again mainly because one of my greatest passions has always been to understand the mysteries of our universe so that I can not only reap the rewards that endeavour has to offer for myself, but also to celebrate and teach what I learn to others.
Needless to say, it was bout' time I walked the journey with Santiago, once again!
If you haven't read the book yet, I'm going to be discussing a few of its themes and key take-aways in this post without giving away too many details. Regardless, for the sake of your own reading adventure, I recommend reading it first before you dive into this post (it's a short book)!
If not, that's okay too. Reading it will still be well worth your time.
The Language of The Universe
Throughout the book, you and Santiago are introduced to the idea that every thing, person and animal has its own language - its own means of communication with, but often without, the use of words.
Even Life itself has its own means of guiding you down a path that is truly meaningful to you, or what Coelho refers to as your "Personal Legend" in the book.
Towards the climax of his journey, Santiago awakens to the discovery that the path of his Personal Legend was and always has been offered to him by the universe through the voice of his heart.
Therefore, one of the greatest take-aways from The Alchemist is for all of us to learn the language of the universe by:
1) Tuning into our hearts more consistently
2) Learning to interpret what our hearts are actually communicating to us
3) Actually doing what our hearts are telling us to do
"Wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.”
I personally adore this concept because everything I have studied over the years in regards to personal and spiritual development can be boiled down to this practice:
Tune-in consistently, hear the true message of your heart, and take action on it as often as you can!
We can never be perfect on this of course, but if life came with instructions, that would sum it up in one sentence.
It is my belief that the universe is always speaking and guiding each and every one of us towards our highest purpose and away from what is not meant for us.
It's our job only to listen with humility, learn how to interpret the feelings and impulses we receive, and then not be afraid to fail or succeed as we move steadily towards our guidance.
Failure is an Integral Part of The Journey
Like any heroes journey, it is known that challenges, obstacles and pitfalls are an integral part of it.
I think it's easy to say this, but in reality most people don't accept this truth as often as they'd like to admit, myself included.
Where Santiago had 'beginners luck,' we all have an experience at some point in our lives that inspires us towards some kind of goal, dream or mission. Yet the moment challenge sets in, we find it so easy to complain, trail off or give up completely.
A lack of commitment is especially prevalent in our society that is so prone to instant gratification.
There seems to be an overwhelming assumption that if our goals aren't achieved any time soon, then a loss in faith is somehow warranted.
When in reality what we're really doing is unconsciously disregarding the voice of our heart - the language of the universe - and pretend like our higher purpose never really existed at all.
I've done this a number of times over the years in pursuit of my own dream of becoming a personal and spiritual development teacher. I knew it was what I wanted to do on a deep soul level at the young age of 21 and I tried to ignore it for years because I didn't believe in myself and feared the judgment of others.
"You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say."
These are struggles I still have to this day, but I am far stronger and more confident in my Personal Legend than ever before, and I intend to continue getting stronger as long as my heart calls me down this path.
Here are 3 takeaways for you in regards to embracing failure:
1) Garner the wisdom to realize that the joy we're looking for does not lay in the achievement of the goal, but the journey towards the goal, regardless if you're failing hard or succeeding big. The joy...the answer..."the treasure" resides within you and your heart always, not outside of you.
2) Reframe the word "failure" from a negative to a positive. To do this, start seeing all of your failures as "opportunities" for growth and learning, instead of reasons to judge yourself or give up. People who end up succeeding with their Personal Legends don't give up because they don't run when they fail. They learn and grow, just like Santiago did.
3) As counter intuitive as this may sound, start failing on purpose, unless the consequences for failure are detrimental to your overall well-being. The point here is to actively get comfortable with the idea of failing instead of resisting it like so many people do. If you're not failing (learning and growing) at something once per day, then there's room to challenge yourself in a really fun way. Say often, "I love to fail because I get the gift of learning that comes along with it."
Living Your Personal Legend
Everyone has a purpose in life. Just because you don't know yours yet, doesn't mean you're broken. If you do know yours and you're currently not taking much action towards it, that's also okay.
Allow this post to be a wakeup call - an "omen" - that the thing you feel the most passionate about is going to lead you towards your Personal Legend.
Your heart talks to you in the language most commonly known as emotion (e-motion = energy in motion).
Whenever you feel a positive emotional surge throughout your body, it means that the universe is "telling you" that there is something fulfilling in it for you if and when you'll follow the path.
The Alchemist is about a boy who sets out in search for his treasure when he doesn't even know what his treasure is, or if it even really exists. I'm sure you've questioned at least once in your life if your "higher calling" is even real.
"How do I really know for sure?" You've thought.
A lot of Santiago's journey is predicated on irrational faith that most people would simply ignore from the get go because they don't believe in that which they can't see. But more often than not, our higher path is not something that can be shown to us in the physical world, but only within the world of our own heart and soul - in the world of emotion and intuition..
Santiago's flock of sheep is a metaphor for people who move through life settling for the fulfillment of their basic needs being met. He realizes that if he truly wants to be happy then he's going to have to rise above the life he's created for himself and embrace the call of his dream, even though he has no idea where it's going to lead him.
With uncertainty of his decision comes fear of the unknown, which is also an integral part of every heroes journey. But when we garner the courage to take the first step, we always attract guidance and opportunities that will lead us towards the next step...and the next... and the next...
“Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
Here's 3 more great points you can take with you moving forward in your life:
1) Every human experiences uncertainty when they embark on a new journey. The more you have FAITH in your calling, the more it will feel like an adventure instead of something to be feared. You are not a sheep. You have everything within you to take the first step now. Have courage; the universe is on your side.
2) "Maktub" is a word that is used all throughout the book. It means "fate." The key take-away here is to recognize that when you do take the first step, you will encounter "lucky synchronicities" that help you towards your dream along the way. Because you and your soul are one with the universe, this is nothing more than your path lining up with what your highest self wants for you. The more you have these experiences, the more faith you will develop also in the 'omens' along your path.
3) The achievement of your dream is not the purpose of life. The purpose of life is to embrace the journey - whatever dream you end up choosing for yourself. It will be full of challenges, but aim to stay present, connect with your heart, and appreciate the simple things in life...
"The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them."
I hope this served you. Now go read the book if you haven't yet. 🙂
PS - I decided that day 100 was going to be the last day of my appreciation post challenge 🙂 it was fun and I got a lot out of it but there were times it felt like I was forcing myself to think of something to appreciate instead of allowing my writing to be inspired naturally, which in my experience, always yields the best and most authentic form of self expression.