Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Starring Me!

Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist being tested

This entire past week I’ve been living inside the pages of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

For those of you unfamiliar with the novel, the book combines magic, mysticism, wonder, and wisdom (you know, all the goodies in real life) in the telling of a young shepherd boy’s journey of self-discovery. 

Santiago, the protagonist, encounters obstacle after obstacle as he works towards fulfilling his prophecy of discovering treasure at the Egyptian pyramids. I distinctly remember mounting frustration as the Universe sent Job-worthy1 challenges his way. 

Do You Have A Prophecy?

complications can come in beautiful packaging as well. They can be disguised in the familiar”

First, it’s hard – sometimes nearing the impossible – to identify what that prophecy is… you know, the one thing you must pursue. The thing you were uniquely designed to chase, create, possess. Coelho refers to this as Personal Legend. We are told NO so many times in our lives that our true life’s passion can be interred (buried so deep that we lose sight of it). So, if you’re like me, and middle age has gifted you clarity and conviction, don’t take it for granted.

In Coelho’s book, some hardships are obvious and albeit a nuisance, manageable. Other hurdles are less easy to interpret or to rise above. The notion of “when you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true” runs rampant throughout this novel. And, in my particular life, it has been streaming continually the last seven days.

No, I didn’t go to war, cross a dessert, nor turn into the wind this week to pursue my prophecy. But complications can come in beautiful packaging as well. They can be disguised in the familiar; it can tempt us by throwing distractions camouflaged as opportunities. Hidden so elegantly that we just don’t see it.

A Tribe Was Born:

A little over a year ago, I had the good fortune to stumble upon a group of women entrepreneurs through the social media chat-only app, Clubhouse. Over time, we bonded and, better yet, began a loose affiliation providing support to one another. After losing my partner to colon cancer early in the birth of Kuel Life, I was hungry for connection. It felt “right” to have a team of smart, like-minded business owners to team up with.

Until it didn’t.

Ok, that’s a bit harsh. But, I do have a flair for the dramatic. Hence my comparison to Mr. Coehlo’s novel. 

Being Tested:

I allowed myself to go down a path which isn’t mine anymore.”

I guess what still surprises me is that even with the clarity of knowing my purpose, I am fallible. Yes, I can get swept up in my own version of a sandstorm. The details of the alluring distraction presented to me aren’t important. What is important is that the wandering was elaborate. I was swept up in the fanfare. It was easy to do. 

As I said, sometimes these interruptions show up in a very comforting, familiar way. And even though I was participating, there was a tiny, tiny voice deep in my gut that kept questioning the fit for me. As a matter of fact, Sesame Street’s “one of these things is not like….” kept playing over and over in my mind. (If you find yourself humming that song, you’re welcome.) But, I did nothing to stop it. Instead, I played some very fast, at the ready, mental tracks to help me justify the events as they unfolded.

Once again, the actual nature of the event is not what is relevant here. I allowed myself to go down a path which isn’t mine anymore. It is not my personal legend and only serves to clutter, confuse, and delay me from my actual prophecy. 

I wish I could lay claim to the “aha” moment when I excused myself from the situation.  But, alas, I can’t. Still greedily using up rationalization after rationalization to make this distraction fit my purpose, I even began working on tasks – using up time and emotional bandwidth.

Leaning Into The Universe:

Then the Universe interfered. Clearly, unable to make the right decision for myself, I needed an intervention. And, an intervention I got. Sadly, I had to be removed from the situation. And while I can berate myself for not being evolved enough to have avoided the whole entanglement to begin with, at least I am proud of my speedy recovery. 

Yes, being voted off the island smarted. Who likes rejection? My tribe was kind enough to let me know that I was not a good fit for the event being planned and removed me from the group. Once the initial sting of exclusion passed, an overwhelming sense of calm and peace flooded through me. And while I assume more sandstorms are on the way, I am resting easier knowing that the Universe has my back – all I have to do is listen.

P.S. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading The Alchemist, I highly recommend it. So much so that I got an affiliate link for it. Order it here!

1. Reference the Book of Job.

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