I’m a little late to “The Alchemist” party, especially considering that it celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. I found out about it by reading a back issue of the “O” magazine, where Oprah interviewed the author, Paulo Coelho.
I was intrigued by the idea of a Personal Legend, which is something that “you’ve always wanted to accomplish.” Have you ever sat back and thought about all the things you said you wanted to do when you were younger? Be an astronaut, an actor, firefighter, drive a racecar, fly… What happened to those dreams? As you got older, you were taught that dreams are for little kids; grown ups have to be realistic and get a real job. Doing what you love in life was not considered a realistic or practical way to pay the bills.
I’ve never understood why being a grown-up meant letting your dreams fall by the wayside and that is why I love this book!. It encourages us to pursue our passions, our life’s goals.
This book came to my attention at a point in my life where I feel unfulfilled, dissatisfied, and plain ol’ unhappy. I felt it in my spirit that how I was living was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. What do I want to do? Travel, learn as many languages as I can, and interact with and learn about the various cultures I come across in my travels. If you asked me to describe my dream job that would be it. That is the answer I have given ever since people started asking me what I wanted to do when I grow up (after being an actress, of course).
Are we not here to enjoy life? I see absolutely no reason why I should happily give away 40 hours of my life each week doing something that frustrates me, continually leaves me stressed, and makes me a grumpy head when I spend time with my daughter.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. And I refuse to be one of those people that look back on their life and realize that they spent it pursuing the wrong thing. That would truly be a tragedy.
Who do we tend to admire the most? Those who spent their lives doing what was expected of them and being a “grown-up” or those who went out there and enjoyed their lives to the best of their ability? I am leaning towards the latter. And I have a close friend, who is doing just that. He gave up a “stable” job with the County, left the United States and went to China to teach English. He is loving it there. And what’s not to love? He’s experiencing a new culture, getting paid to do it (he’ll be able to save up a big chunk of change since most of his expenses are being taken care of by the school he’s working for), and they are even throwing in free Mandarin lessons! He is doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do. I told him not to be surprised if I show up there in the near future, with my daughter. What a big advantage it would be for her to speak Mandarin fluently! And China would just be the gateway. There are so many countries that are looking for English teachers. My daughter would truly be a global citizen.
My friends, I know you are tired of hearing that life is too short and that you only live once but I urge you: Find something you’ve always wanted to do and do it. Please don’t be one of those people who look back and say: “I wish…”