Words That Changed My Thinking

Words That Changed My Thinking

I set off on my own Personal Legend almost a year ago.  I wasn't actually sure what a Personal Legend meant, or why I chose that places I did, or the order in which I would do things.  And that became crystal clear when my boots met Gatwick's vast airport floors and my eyes tried to decipher which train ticket would get me where. 

Oscar Wilde said, "I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read on the train".  I wasn't quite ready to expose any of my innermost thoughts at the time, so admittedly, this doesn't apply to me.  I wasn't even thinking of writing.  But I did have a book for the train rides – a book that was given to me from my dear friend, one that contained all the words I needed to hear.  Its pages became adorned with underlining and scribbles, corners becoming earmarked.  The spine has become weak and worn as if exhausting itself with the sharing of its knowledge. 

As the train monotonously crept in and out of stations, then propelling itself again full speed, I was captivated by this book – revelations and moments of 'yes, yes, yes!' filling my mind.  It was as if the air above me was filling with new thoughts and ideas, and it was only when I paused did I realize the passengers around me were unassumingly going on with their lives, just gliding along for their commute.  Their happy absent-minded way of eating their sandwich and watching the countryside flicker by like a movie tape, fog slowly creeping onto the windowpanes from our collective breaths.  And I was having soul-stirring epiphanies at the hands of a paperback. 

The book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, Words That Changed My Thinking

The story follows a young traveling Andalusian shepherd named Santiago who is in search of his own Personal Legend.  He learns from a disguised king that everyone has their own Personal Legend.  It is your deepest desire as child; what you always wanted to accomplish at such a time that everything is clear and possible, you are not encumbered by limitations of practical matters. And, as the book teaches - It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

This sweet fable is filled with jewels on every page, some so simplistically perfect that you will pause to let them soak in.  It challenged me to discover my purpose, to be an active participant in my own life, to notice the good in simplicity. 

It is an introspective and reflective story, and startlingly accurate.  No matter how young or old, this message will always be relevant.  Below are some of my favorite jewels.

  • 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 that the sun rises.
  • 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 dream.
  • That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.
  • Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.
  • It's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.

As I kept traveling, my latitude began to change and the weather along with it.  I had to shed luggage.  Clothing and shoes were sacrificed if they didn't work for the current climate.  My bag became lighter but this book always had its place within it.  It needed to come along with me on my travels, and it also needed to come home with me.  It is a chameleon of a book that is not limited to any one person or where they read it.  It reminds you that travel's main gift is to wake the sleeping soul.  It teaches that while you can seek treasures in far off deserts, you may learn that they are also on your doorstep.

If you're someone who waits for signs of what to do - this is me, nudging you in the ribs to open the pages of this book.  It changed my ideas on how I wanted to live my life and solidified others.

According to Paulo Coelho,

"To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation".



Change is Outside: Blog about Change
Malinda Meadows is an Ohio native who was letting grief blanket her life.
She found healing through traveling and nature.  She discovered changes of location led to changes in her mindset.  It helped her process grief and forge a new path with greater optimism and happiness. Realizing the benefit of deliberate change, she now leads a more balanced and mindful life inspired by simple changes.
She blogs regularly at malindainthesnow.com to help others find change, however small, outside their box in order to live a happier, healthier life.
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