I finally read "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. It wasn't on any of my plans for the holiday, but I left my kindle at home. And as I stood in the tiny tiny book section of the airport convenience store, it was either that, some vampire romancing, the latest Clive Cussler BS, or 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. I was torn. In the end, I chose two books. A vampire romance mystery novel and 'The Alchemist', as the dust jacket promised that the book would change my life.
I read the vampire book first. What a huge disappointment that one was. I'm not going to go into the details but it was about as bad as a Clive Cussler, thankfully much shorter. Anyone who wants to know why I'm bashing mr.Cussler, just drop me a line. So with the fluff book out of the way, I picked up 'The Alchemist'. Mr. Coelho is a story teller of the best kind and if you have some inclination to read, I do recommend. Did it change my life? Maybe, maybe for a day, maybe for longer.. the jury is still out, which i suppose is a measure of success (for those of you wondering, its an allegorical tale featuring a shepherd boy journeying across the desert). I think the best line of the book is about how each of us has the responsibility to realize our destiny, and maybe to help others do the same.
What i found most interesting were the details of the author's life. Just as I finish the book, I'm thinking, "its fine and well to tell a good tale and to try to inspire others to spirituality, but how does a person ever feel they have the right to do such a thing?"
And I say this because 'The Alchemist' is permeated with this sense of 'rightness' on the topic of faith. The author expresses himself with surety and purpose. How does a person write like this? On spirituality, one of the greatest unknowns? hah - evidently one way is to have your parents commit you to a mental institution for wanting to be a writer multiple times), be subjected to electro-shock therapy, get kidnapped and tortured by one's military government... The author has lead a full life. And again, I do recommend this book.
Looking back on these words, I must affirm - I don't believe that people can make much spiritual headway in this life without understanding pain and suffering. I'm with Buddha on this one. And it brings to mind another book I've read recently. "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.
You may be familiar already. It is a psychology book, set in the backdrop of the author's experiences surviving through several Nazi concentration camps. Someone advised me to read during my last career 'crisis' when I was angsting about the meaning of my work. Let me tell you, you want perspective? Read Frankl's book. It certainly fixed my wagon.
So, dear reader, if you have made it this far, you may be asking yourself - What does all this suffering have to do with Thanksgivukkah? Who peed in your Tofurkey for you to be talking about electro-shock and gas chambers? (or maybe you are discreetly messaging the loml to ask if i've gone off the deep end - who knows). I guess all i am trying to say is that I'm thankful. For all kinds of things.
Happy Holidays! Now get out there and read something!