Saturday, January 14, 2006

Alchemist, finally

I've been meaning to read Paulo Coelho's Alchemist for years now. I've fiddled with the different editions in bookstores, trying to decide whether I should buy it or not. Last Wednesday I finally did and I finished reading it last night.

What a touching, elegant, warm and comforting story it was. The text flowed and ebbed in a very natural rhythm, just like life usually does. The decisions and (mis)fortunes the boy has to face were easy to relate to, because I think all of us know what it feels like to not be able to follow one's life's path (I don't know how it's translated in English, as I read the Finnish version), because of whatever reason or excuse.

I for one can say my life reminds the life of the man selling crystalware. He had a dream of a pilgrimage to Mecca, but had decided to earn some money before he would go to the holy city. He would see the poor pass by his store, on their way to fulfil their duty as moslems should, but he would not go, because he had an excuse. Eventually, when the boy helped him earn plenty of money, he understood that he'd never go to Mecca. The time for that had passed.

In my life I quite often feel like I'm living a "I'll do it when..." -life. I'll travel when I have money. I'll do this and that when I have achieved this and that. For the most part my excuses for not doing what I've dreamed of are, unfortunately, money related. And I don't have any sheep to sell to get money for tickets. So the story continues, as it ever has: I'll go to London or to New Zealand when I have graduated and have a steady income. I hope I won't wake up one morning and realise that I'm the crystal guy and that my time to follow some of my dreams has passed me by.

What also makes me wonder is the courage needed to follow one's dreams. Have I become so attached to my current life, a life that just plods safely along with no big news year in and year out, that I wouldn't have the guts to do something different? The thought is somewhat worrying. I think I'd like to at least think I would be able to do even radical changes, if needed.

One such radical thing would be moving out of Finland. I have been, occasionally, thinking about moving to England to study & work for a while after I graduate. There's this program for studies in international publishing that sort of interests me. Granted, I haven't graduated yet, but when I do, will I have the guts to take the more difficult road (instead of, say, a secure teaching job somewhere around here) to find out if that would actually be the career & life I'd like to pursue? I'm not much of a risk-taker, that's for sure, and yet even the mere thought, a mere speculation of a situation where I end up following my countless excuses why I shouldn't do something a part of me would really like to do, is terrifying. I'm so glad I got to go to the States as a teenager - I might not have the guts now! Back then it really didn't seem like "any big deal", living in a foreign country for a year. Sheesh. I'm getting old, aren't I?

Well, in any case the book will be given a comfortable home in my bookshelf. I think it's a story I should return to every once and a while, just to remind me that life can be magical and that some dreams really should be followed (or just to check how close I am of turning into the crystal guy...). Listen to your hearts, people. And if you haven't read the book yet, go already! You shouldn't miss out on this one. If nothing else, it's a beautifully written story about a boy and a treasure. Make of it what you want.

(On a slightly lighter and less philosophical note, go visit Wired Temples this weekend. I'm a guest blogger on the Malta blog of my friend Robert. Lots of stuff about the Knights in my life and so on.)

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