Alchemy and alchemist are old words in the English language. They predate and were precursors for the science of chemistry and the chemist. Alchemists believed they could turn lead into gold. They appear as mystics in legends. In time, alchemy took on a figurative meaning – to transform things for the better.
I’ve been reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo at the beginning of each year for over a decade.
The Alchemist is more than just a story. It’s an allegory, a book of wisdom, a piece of fiction filled with truths. Millions of people have read it since its first publication in 1988. My 20th anniversary version is wrinkled and weathered from bedside reading, as well as trips to beaches and into bathtubs. Multicolored flags and highlighted passages show what jumped out each time I pass through.
I’ve always wanted to take the time to extract and reflect on the wisdom strewn throughout the story of Santiago, a shepherd in pursuit of his Personal Legend. The way insights are woven into the narrative feels natural and must have something to do with why it resonates.
This quote from page 27 seems appropriate and confronting on February 1, 2021.
“…when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day the sun rises.”
There is a sameness to every day right now, couched in ethical trade offs between freedom and safety. It’s challenging, at times overwhelming; and good things are still happening. The choice of what I see depends where I put attention, which is why I’m focused on creating and sharing pictures + words.
Treasures from the past have been unearthed while exploring within the boundaries of my home. They had dropped out of sight as I moved on to the next thing. The alchemy of doing what I’ve always wanted to transforms each day for the better.