(When we last saw The Jaded NYer, she'd just finished reading The Alchemist and had attended church on a Sunday, and it made her realize some shit. Now you're all caught up. Read on.)
I picked up The Alchemist expecting only to be entertained. Actually, no I didn't because the last Coelho book I read, Veronika Decides to Die, was a big disappointment to me. I hated it.
I read the book during my MFA program and when I wrote an annotation on it saying everything that was wrong with the story my mentor, the very talented & insightful writer Thomas E. Kennedy, wrote back: Maybe you didn't get what he was doing? That was an omen that I didn't listen to. But all in due time, right?
Clearly back then I wasn't ready to read a book about a woman who attempts suicide and instead wakes up in a hospital and there discovers a reason to live. But after this summer, after facing those very same feelings of nothingness, I'm thinking I owe it to myself to read this book again with a fresh pair of eyes. I still may not like it but I have to try.
But anyway, I expected not to get anything important out of The Alchemist and OHHHH was I wrong. This book honestly gave me a glimmer of hope towards something to believe in, some real-life faith and shit.
And by faith I don't mean some Judeo-Christian, patriarchal, dogma-laced BS institutionalized faith. I mean the kind of faith that was promised to me at Our Lady of Bedford Stuyvesant (yo- I'm not joking about that name... my school was truly called that BEFORE they switched the name to St. John the Baptist!) all those years ago but never delivered. Faith in a purpose for my life, faith in the goodness in people, faith in the power & realness of love and most importantly, faith in myself and my destiny.
I watched The Wizards of Waverly Place movie with my kids (a movie that SURPRISINGLY also dealt with following your destiny... ugh, these signs are trying to kill me!) and in it the siblings need to find this "stone of dreams" via this treasure map. Well this faith I seek is my stone of dreams. I long for something to believe in, some guidance, more than I want my novel on the New York Times bestseller list. And this book + the message I heard at church on Sunday is like my treasure map. I still don't have the code cracked, but I have the map. Isn't that the first step?
So The Voices are all abuzz with these things now and I know that Coelho and this random Harlem preacher were placed in my life at this time to help me realize some important things.
I do let my fear of what others think of me stop me from being me and doing what I know will make me happy. I do base my standards on others' standards. And I do ignore that little voice inside of me that warns me about and pushes me towards certain paths. I am not really working towards what I want because of fear. And I don't believe in myself enough to make things better for myself.
A lot of what fueled my breakdown this summer had to do with "other people" that I made a bigger part of my life than they deserved to be. They weren't checking for me but I behaved as if I needed them in my life. Meanwhile the people that I did need in my life were being pushed aside and neglected. I've always tried to be liked, or tried to make others happy even in spite of myself. I see now that I took it too far and it became a problem.
-- to be continued --
*smooches...looking for a spell to rid me of fear*
I really want you to not judge me for watching The Wizards of Waverly Place; it's a really good show. Really. STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!