“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
This is Part 2 in a Four-Part Series. Part 1 which covered the Introduction, was posted yesterday.
Today’s post is actually about the Prologue and Part 1 of the book. Not to confuse. 😉
In the Prologue, we read of The Alchemist, who picked up a book and read about Narcissus and the lake he looked into each day as he admired his own beauty. One day, he fell in and drowned. At that exact spot, a flower sprouted and is called the narcissus. But there was more to the story… and I will leave it at that. How it fits into the over-all story is yet to be seen.
Part 1 begins with our traveler, a shepherd boy called Santiago, traveling back and forth across the desert with his sheep. They do not say how old he is exactly, but I gather he’s in his late teens.
Santiago journeys. He and his sheep cross the desert… “The Sahara Desert”… and I stopped. Where had I just read about The Sahara Desert? Only days ago, right? Wasn’t it a self-help book? One I’d just written about? And so I came here… and found my post from last week: Many Miles to Go by Brian Tracy. Ah, yes. That’s it! Hmmm. Interesting.
A message for me? Perhaps. I so often dream of the desert, where I lived before I moved to Canada. Not the Sahara, but it might as well have been, thousands of miles from where I ended up.
My children, who were 19, 18 and 16 at the time, and I, had therapy to deal with the separation that was to come. We had long talks into the night. They wanted to stay in California. At the same time, they wanted me to be happy. They told me I had to go… for my sanity.
Their dad was happy to have them stay close to him, which I understood. I had worked very hard to get their brother (the 16-year-old) into special schooling, including a home teacher. He has disabilities, as you may remember.
I wanted it all… them with me … and me with my second husband, who had younger children, who also needed to be close by.
A choice was made… and I could not have it all. And so we all sacrificed for the good of the whole. Especially my children and me.
No wonder I still dream of it, even though the entire world has changed since then, including the fact that my children are all in their mid-thirties now. It was absolutely the most traumatic decision I’ve ever made. That’s what “the desert” signifies for me.
And so, Santiago is a traveler, also by choice. He tends sheep and learns their language… and I must stop here and say how much I love this notion of learning the language of animals. Different languages comes up later in Part 1 of the story. Santiago hears two men, one Arabic and one Spanish, speaking their own languages, but each understands the other. There is no commentary about it except that he noticed. A lesson there, perhaps? We shall see.
Santiago is a book reader, which is unusual for a shepherd boy. He uses whatever book he is reading at the time (and then trades in for another) as a pillow as he sleeps under the stars.
And also, there is a beautiful young girl he sees once a year. He is in love with her. But this doesn’t seem important… and by that I mean, this is not a love story between the shepherd and the girl. At least, not yet. Again, we shall see.
He has a dream that he must go the pyramids in Egypt to find treasure. He tells this dream to two people: a gypsy woman and a stranger who says he is a King (and in fact, has a breastplate of gold) who both advise him to follow his dream.
He sells his sheep and travels to Tangier, Africa, where a thief steels his money. Hungry, he goes into the shop of a crystal merchant and offers to clean the glass pieces in the window in exchange for food. They talk and Santiago tells him of his desire to get to Egypt. The merchant says he can never earn enough to get there but if he’ll work for him for a year, he’ll make enough to get back home.
Home. A disappointment, to be sure. But it’s what he must do.
And that is where we leave Santiago today, where he accepts the offer and then Part 2 of the book begins.