This is the first time EVER that I am writing a post on a topic suggested by someone else. The simple reason being that I wanted to see how well I did when I water a seed that someone else planted in my mind. This idea is courtesy Meenu who asked me to write a post about the book that I have liked/loved most and I said…why not? Let us see what we can come up with. So, in a way, this post is dedicated to her.
So, which book am I going to talk about today? I will be honest – it wasn’t an easy choice at all. Though I have never claimed to be a “voracious reader” and I work in an industry where paper is treated as an untouchable commodity, I am responsible for a fair amount of trees being cut down. Out of all the books I have read so far, each one (with a few exceptions) has been an enjoyable journey. Intriguing at times, engrossing at others. So, picking out one was easier said than done. That being said, I decided to go by gut feel. I just laid back, closed my eyes, and the very first image that flashed in my mind was the story of Santiago, a shepherd boy in search of his dream.
As many of you might have guessed by now, I am talking about The Alchemist, one of Paulo Coelho’s all-time classics. I will not go into the details of the plot of the book. You can always refer to Wikipedia for that. Neither am I going to come up with a review of the book, as I believe that a book is something to be felt, to be experienced, and not to be evaluated or reviewed. I am simply going to tell you about the impression that this tale made on me, and how it has helped me in my life. Yes, you read that right. This is one book whose theme I have been able to apply practically in my day-to-day life. 🙂
Thanks to SRK and Om Shanti Om, almost everyone is aware of the key theme of the book. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” is what the alchemist tells Santiago. To a large extent, this is something we all would like to believe in, and why not? Who wouldn’t want to desire something and have things fall in place auto-magically? Seems too good to be true, and it indeed is. This is something which I have found that many of us miss out on. In the ecstasy of imagining our dreams come true just like that, we forget about one more thing that Santiago was told. And I will admit – I didn’t catch it the first time either. It was only when I actually tried applying the principle in real life that I encountered it. Curious? Read on.
“Those who don’t understand their Personal Legends will fail to comprehend its teachings” is what the alchemist says to Santiago, adding that when we are young, we all know what our “Personal Legend” is. Admittedly, this sounds like high-brow management speak, until you realise it is nothing else but the basic purpose of your life – the role that you are supposed to play on this big stage. As I understand it, it is all about really focusing on what you want to achieve in life, what you want to be remembered as after you have made your exit, and then fearlessly working your way towards it. It is only after you have set foot on this journey that things start falling in place for you. If you expect to sit on your ass and expect things to fall on your lap, remember that even a beggar sitting outside the temple doesn’t enjoy that luxury. He has to reach out to people and tug at their heart strings to make them loosen their purse strings.
Coming back to myself, this book has always been a great source of inspiration to me. Whenever I feel down and out (yes people, I do feel like that at times) I simply pick it up, flip to a random page and start reading. Invariably, I find that calm is restored within some time. Two of the most important lessons that this book has taught me are – “follow your dreams” and “life listens to what you say/do and rewards you accordingly”. The first one is pretty obvious to understand and equally difficult to follow to the fullest. Fortunately, I have always been blessed with opportunities (and people) around me who have been supportive of my efforts to make my life the way I want it to be. Of course, there have been detractors too, a fair share of them. But for me, they have proved to be more of a motivator. If there is something I really love doing, it is having people tell me that I cannot do something and then proving them wrong. 😉
The second one is a bit tricky. At first, I had thought that it was all about life paying you back for your good/bad deeds, or what is popularly known as karma. Then, I realised that it was not just karma, it was also about how we accept what life bestows on us. Whatever life puts in our hands, we have to accept it with equanimity. If it gives you something which makes you happy, smile, be grateful to it and thank it. If it gives you something that makes you sad, smile, say “no worries, I hope I get a better deal next time round” and move ahead towards your dream. Trust me, life WILL pay you back what it owes you. 🙂 In my experience so far, I have found it to be the most balanced credit-debit sheet EVER. One thing that I have learnt (sometimes the hard way) is not to deny anything that life offers to you. If it offers you something that you feel you are not worthy of, you are WRONG. Life knows better. If you are getting something, it is because you deserve it, as simple as that. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure, cherish it. 🙂
This has been a long post so far, but a very satisfying one to write. Thanks Meenu, get your brain cells buzzing – if these are the kind of ideas you are going to come up with, I need more of them. 🙂