Life Planning · Self Esteem

Follow Your Dreams: The Beauty of Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist

I have many a friend who loves Paulo Coehlo’s works and admittedly the past weekend was the first time I had read any of his novels. I bought The Alchemist a year or so ago and never got round to getting past the first few pages. But finally, on a relaxing Sunday I finished reading it. It was utterly profound and held great meaning. A beautiful read, which made me think about life and our life goals and dreams.

The Alchemist centres around a shepherd boy and his search for his destiny. He meets many people on his journey and learns to trust and listen to nature as signs towards his ultimate goal. He passes many people who have/haven’t realised their dreams and observes the difference between those who have realised the potential versus the longing hearts of those who have not and/or never will.

The story made me realise how many of us ‘grow out’ of our dreams or are discouraged from them because they are ‘silly’ or ‘won’t make you money’. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how industry would change if we all did what we loved instead of what we ‘should do’. The ridiculous thing is I really feel what we should be doing often isn’t what we think we should be doing or are doing. It is true – you can see the freedom on the face of someone’s dreams who have been realised and the oppression on the face of others.

One beautiful quote (there were many in the book!) that struck me was: “The boy and his heart had become friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other”. To me, this statement is what contentment and freedom is about. It is about not battling your innermost self. Allowing it to feel and truly be what it is. Within the book there is a crystal shop owner who worries that maybe after dreaming so much, the reality of his dream would not match up to the dream itself. But the question for that character and others in a similar situation is are you really prepared to go so many years down the line and convince ourselves that your dreams don’t matter. Or to look back and feel regret.

In fact, I do not quite like the saying, “It’s never too late to follow your dreams”. It’s a great statement as a motivation, but equally it can act as a statement to make a person passive. You can keep telling yourself, well in that case maybe I’ll follow my dreams later.

Another quote from the book that made me really stop and think was:

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. […] We, people’s hearts seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, towards its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them – the path to their destinies, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”

You may not believe in destiny, but if you take it to mean your dreams for yourself, this can bring context to the statement. How many of us have walked away from what would have made us happy because we felt obliged to take another route? And in the context of each person’s pursuit in life – to be happy – how did or do those choices make sense? It takes great bravery to follow your dreams as people will try to discourage you, but can we really go throughout our lives and at the end of it truly say we did all we wanted to do? If the answer is no, it doesn’t matter where we are in life in terms of age, situation or geography, we should ask ourselves what we can do to realise our dreams even if it is in part.

We should also think of the importance of realising our dreams. If we all did, the world would be less threatening as we would all feel more fulfilled and not need to go after baseless things in order to fill the void of not fulfilling our potential and meeting our happiness.

On my end, my dream is to really learn to understand the world and to gain an ultimate peace within. It perhaps isn’t as tangible as having a certain career or possession. It’s something that I can approach every day, which is to listen and learn from every situation presented to me. To actively learn from my triumphs and difficulties. It’s about showing up every day and working away no matter how hard it may seem.

Whatever your dreams are, don’t leave it too late. Be friends with your heart and don’t betray one another. Be kind to others, but don’t be afraid to have some disagreement where you may be discouraged. Everyone would like to meet their life goals and meet their dreams. But the key to unlocking your dream is yourself. If you do not make action to unlock your dreams, they will remain closed. If you feel your true calling, grasp it by the hand and don’t end up in the pool of people who never actualise they’re dreams. You can do it!

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