Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Observations inspired by Paulo Coehlo's "The Alchemist"


My friend Tiffany wrote to me today, recommending Paulo Coehlo's book, "The Alchemist."

I first picked up this text at the insistence of Dr. Ernest Darkoh. We were having coffee, that turned into dinner, and a five hour conversation, in Sandton, South Africa, on Sunday, July 18, 2004: Nelson Mandela's Birthday. It was our first and only meeting. We covered topics of calling, passion, purpose, and the writing of Coehlo seemed to connect our mutual faith in the Universe, in God, in Love. Yes.

I have held that Sunday, that conversation, that dear man, and that book in high regard ever since.

What follows is some writing, note-taking, inspired by Coehlo, done in the Fall of 2006. I invite you to consider how the Universe and Love speaks to you, your heart, your spirit, your mind.

"There is only one way to learn," the alchemist answered. "It's through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey. (p132)

The wise men understood that this natural world is only an image and a copy of paradise. The existence of this world is simply a guarantee that there exists a world that is perfect. God created the world so that, through its visible objects, men could understand his spiritual teachings and the marvels of this wisdom. That's what I mean by action." (p133)

Out walking today, this is what I noticed:

1. They post signs when they clean the streets. No one can park during this period along the particular road.
Wouldn't it be great if we all had such intentionality - rather, if I could be so intentional when cleaning up my life's pathways? I would put up a sign and get help to do this messy 'getting-to-the-bottom-of-things work. It would say:
"Cleaning to take place. Don't park in my way: I'm going about this necessary business. Check out my team of helpers. Watch out for the big machinery."

I love the street cleaners!

2. Between Bayard and Hartford, there are tons of squirrels. Last week, I counted nine brown and one black one on the span of two neighboring lawns. The squirrels make me giggle the way they hover over acorns and jump across the lawns. I wish I could move as quickly, and navigate vertical inclines like the sides of trees.....

Today: I watched as one squirrel spent time examining a plastic bag of dog poop. It was tied neatly, and resting in the grass with a plastic handle that looked like a bow. On my return, a black squirrel went right by it, leaping to the tree, and hustling up and above the icky contents. I want his capacity to leap over sh-t!

3. The sun was shining today, something fierce, and yet: ice cold air was stinging my cheeks, bringing tears to my eyes.
How can both exist in the same space? On the same walk? Is this like being in love and being angry with a person at the same time? How might sunlight and freezing wind on my face teach me about the complexity and capacity of our hearts - of piercing ideas, emotion, experiences?

4. I counted four marked trees. They have these florescent orange dots on them. I imagine Arch Benham would tell me that they have dutch elm disease, they need to be cut down.

What would happen if people had orange dots on them? Wouldn't it make navigation and relationships so much simpler?

"Do not get involved here. This person is sick. Will contaminate you, and destroy your forest; your root system will start to break down."

(I have no idea what Dutch Elm does....maybe I should look into this...?)

5. I picked up two pieces of garbage: A small plastic bottle, half filled with saliva spit out from chewing tobacco. And then an upturned lawn sign by ProTurf: "THIS AREA CHEMICALLY TREATED CHILDREN AND PETS STAY OFF UNTIL: (and then in a white space with black marker, the word " DRY" written in.)

Chemically treated lawns make me nervous.

I think there were a lot of signs today. Literal ones. And the treasured figurative ones. That bag of dog poop. The marked trees. Bottle of tobacco spit. That cold wind in the space of bright sun.

I think all of this could be so harsh and potentially threatening, messy if we got in it's way or stepped into it....But there's that dang Sunshine...And those lovely jumping squirrels, who seem to know how to get from one place to the next with a certain amount of grace and charm....

That's where I want to live and place my energy: in the love of warm light and jumping furry figures. Woohoo!

Love you all,

1 comment:

Stephanie in Nebraska said...

Can I be your roommate? I come with kids (something you are wanting and I will share) and 2 warm, fuzzy cats who sometimes act crazy (usually in the middle of the night around 2 or 3 am). I could use your wisdom, zaniness and sense of humor!! Love these philosophies!!!! I also need the orange dots and street sweepers!!!!!!!!!!!!!