I am reading The Alchemist right now by Paulo Coelho. This particular passage hit me hard this morning as it touched on how I have felt so many times while pursuing my dream-my personal legend. Here Santiago, the Shepherd, is speaking with the Alchemist about his fears over listening to his heart while pursuing his personal legend (dream):
“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
“Every second of the search is an encounter with God,” the boy told his heart. “When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I’ve known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find it. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve.”
So his heart was quiet for an entire afternoon. That night, the boy slept deeply, and, when he awoke, his heart began to tell him things that came from the Soul of the World. It said that all people who are happy have God within them. And that happiness could be found in a grain of sand from the desert, as the alchemist had said. Because a grain of sand is a moment of creation, and the universe has taken millions of years to create it. “Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him,” his heart said. “We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them–the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.
“So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t be heard: we don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.”
“Why don’t people’s hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams?” the boy asked the alchemist.
“Because that’s what makes a heart suffer most, and heart’s don’t like to suffer.”
From then on, the boy understood his heart. He asked it please, never to stop speaking to him. He asked that, when he wandered far from his dreams, his heart press him and sound the alarm. The boy swore that, every time he heard the alarm, he would heed its message.
That night, he told all of this to the alchemist. And the alchemist understood that the boy’s heart had returned to the Soul of the World.
“So what should I do now?” the boy asked.
“Continue in the direction of the Pyramids (his dream),” said the alchemist. “And continue to pay heed to the omens. Your heart is still capable of showing you where the treasure is.”
“Is that the one thing I still needed to know?”
“No,” the alchemist answered. “What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. Its the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’
“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”
The boy remembered an old proverb from his country. It said that the darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn.
This passage is so profound to me for three reasons…
1. My heart lived in fear for a long time.
I was afraid my heart would suffer. I spent the first 24 years of my life thinking that someday I would pursue my dream, someday I would do what I was created to do… Until one day I found myself so miserable in my circumstances that I could deny my heart’s desires no longer. I was sitting in my husband’s truck when a radio ad came on advertising a casting call for actors, singers, and models through International Presentation of Performers. I told God the ad was stupid, but that if I heard it three more times that day, I would call the number and schedule an audition. I heard it three more times… so I called and scheduled an audition. I was invited to take part in their local competition. Then I was asked back to help teach some of their students. Then I was given a scholarship to participate on an International level in Los Angeles where I won a singing competition. All those steps led me to California to learn song writing and performance, and then that led me to Atlanta, Georgia where I am now, putting a band together, blogging about my journey, and connecting with other industry professionals
ALL of that was God. I listened to the yearning in my heart to make a change, then I made the call and showed up. God did the rest. EVERYTHING else.
I’ve read over and over that if you want something bad enough, the entire Universe conspires to help you achieve it. I believe this whole-heartedly because I am experiencing it.
So, forget fear, and put your dream in God’s hands. He will do the rest.
2. The fear of suffering is actually worse than the suffering itself.
Yes, I took a pay cut. Yes, sometimes friends and family look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I’m pursuing my dreams and blogging about it along the way. Yes, I have experienced financial uncertainty.
But you know what else I have experienced? Every day being luminous–just like the Shepherd boy said, because every second of the search has been an encounter with God. I haven’t felt this alive since I was a child. I see God’s beauty in ways now that my adult self a few years ago could not perceive. I have also learned more than I ever thought possible–spiritual lessons, life lessons, music lessons–each and every one a piece of the grander puzzle that will make up my dream.
So, is there some suffering that occurs? Yes. But the suffering itself leads to union with God – which then leads to the steps you need to take in order to achieve your dream. It is not easy, but it is very simple: Listen.
3. I listened to my heart and I experienced darkness. Then I experienced the dawn…
I will continue to listen to my heart and that means, at times, I will meet more darkness, but I will also meet more dawn.
In the passage above it talks of the Soul of the World testing dreamers along the path so that they not only realize their dreams, but learn all the lessons taught along the way. This principle should not be feared. It is what makes amateurs into masters.
The whole point of the journey is to learn and grow so that you will be ready to handle your dream.
When times get tough, do not give up. I cannot tell you how many times I have been ready to throw in the towel when all of a sudden there is a “dawn” moment. Something happens that reaffirms me that I am on the right path, and that if I had given up, I would never have been able to experience that victory’s sweetness.
Our hearts can seem capricious at times, but deep down, when we listen closely, they always tell us what they want. I have a tendency to overcomplicate the process, but again it is simple… Listen. Let your heart be your guide.
One of my dreams is to encourage others to follow their dreams. I share this blog post in hope that you will read about my journey and see that you are capable–you have everything it takes to pursue the desires of your heart. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. And you will never be alone.
I still have much more to learn and achieve, but I can tell you that every day is, indeed, luminous.
Cheers to all the Dreamers, Personal Legend Pursuers, and Listeners of the Heart!
I send you LIGHT and LOVE,