Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Getting Over the Rainbow

on April 29, 2014

Rainbow in the Clouds

Last week I read Paulo Coelho’s book “The Alchemist”. It’s one of those books you hear about; people post quotes from it on Facebook, it’s on lists of “important books”, that sort of thing. I got it for my Kindle in a one-day sale on Amazon because I wanted to know what the fuss was about. Turns out, it’s an allegory about a shepherd boy who finds the courage to live his dream. He takes a winding path, and sometimes gets sidetracked and almost gives up more than once, but in the end he lives his “personal legend”. I can see why it’s popular; it talks about following your heart, which is of course what we all know we should be doing. It talks about how when you do follow your dreams the universe conspires to assist you. This is a theme that I’ve thought about and written about before, and I still find it attractive. It’s a lovely idea, that if we finally decide to do what we know deep in our hearts we are supposed to do with our lives and our gifts, that the way will open up in front of us. I’ve been testing this theory for a while now, and I’ve learned a few things about this promise of cosmic help.

The help is out there all right, but make sure you want it ‘cause it doesn’t come cheap. There are things I know now that the great ones don’t tell you up front about following your dreams. It isn’t just a matter of following the yellow brick road. The flying monkeys are real, and you should understand what you’re getting into.

These guides to a better life don’t always tell you what it means to turn your back on everything you used to hold dear. They don’t tell you that you will most likely have to suffer heartbreaking hardship and loss. They don’t tell you that following your dream means that you have to be ruthless in your desire to leave the past behind. Sometimes they mention that the people you are closest to will, in a misguided attempt to help you, try to get you to give up and take the well-worn path instead. What they fail to mention is the terrible anxiety that not taking your loved ones’ advice causes them – in effect, following your dream often means causing pain to the people you love the most. Getting over the rainbow is at times a harsh, uncompromising way to go.

In the story the shepherd boy encounters hardships, and there are times when he must show great courage in the face of real danger. I doubt the pursuit of most peoples’ dreams would find them in the middle of the desert facing down warring tribes of Bedouin, but make no mistake – there will always be trouble. There will be people who actively root for your failure. There will be people who, out of jealousy or just plain evil, will find ways to sabotage your journey.

The biggest challenge, though, happens between your own ears. It’s a constant struggle between doing what you know you’re supposed to do, and doing what is easy. It is a fight, every day, to either work on your dream or to spend one more hour watching television. It’s hard. That’s the price for getting what you want – you have to pay for it with your whole heart.

I suppose that’s why I’m so agitated. Every day I see my old life becoming less and less important to me, but I want my new life to spring forth from my head fully formed, like Athena from Zeus. That’s not going to happen. The work has to come first. The achingly slow, emotionally charged, demanding, confronting, terrifying work. I am astonished at my audacity, to think I deserve to be who I want to be. But I’ll only be that person if I earn it by giving myself to it without reservation. If I love my vision of what my life could be, the person I know I can be, and I pursue it without restraint or hesitation, I must believe that it will happen. I want to be fearless. I’m not there yet, but I’ve come a long way – and I think I can see it from here.

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Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

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