You know the famous quote from the book ‘The alchemist’, ‘When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize his dream’?
But what if the universe doesn’t conspire?
What if we are left to lead lives of incredible hardships, failure, distress and nothing magical happens to teleport us to our dreams?
Dreaming and wanting are within our absolute power. Every poor, downtrodden, battered soul can dream. No universal conspiring is required for that. Achievement of those dreams is a different matter requiring external inputs, and almost exclusively determined by our privilege. A man may dream to become a famous and successful painter. Being a painter is within his control and dependent on his talent alone, as you just need a canvas and some paints, but being famous and successful is directly proportional to his influence and situation in life. Similarly, one may dream of obtaining true love but achieving love is dependant on the lover’s favour which she/he can withhold and the universe may shrug from the sidelines. Coelho tells us to disregard the lie of fate controlling us, but fate is just a fancy word that encompasses so many societal boundaries and cultural setbacks that come with our birth.
When Santiago is faced with a life-threatening situation he has to turn himself into the wind to escape being killed. The Alchemist simply states, ‘Well, you’ll have to learn; your life depends on it.’ Till this point in the story, Santiago is relatable and human. From then on, he is able to talk the wind, desert and sun and evoke a storm that enables his disappearing act like a trained wizard. And the words of the quote ring true. The universe has bent to his will.
I’ve come up with my own solution to this conundrum, since I’m dubious of my ability to perform magic tricks when the time is nigh and neither does my privilege enable access to echelons of carefully guarded knowledge, success and fame. When doors close, impediments and hurdles riddle your path, people threaten you with murder, it’s time to abort mission. Don’t talk to the wind hoping it’ll understand Spanish or Urdu for that matter and take pity on you.
This definitely puts a damper on the ‘you can do it against all odds’ zealousness, but it also advocates peace of mind. Dreams are important, but while chasing after them ‘against all odds’ we miss the beauty of the present. By staying focused on the ‘accomplishment’ part, we miss the enjoyment of the journey to achieving them. We might not get to our desired point X, but what if we get to point F or even C? Should that be enough? What if Santiago never got any treasure even when he got back home? What if instead he found a musical instrument and playing it gave him lasting happiness?
Redefining dreams is not a bad idea. Flexibility prevents you from breaking. Our soul’s aim should be fluidity not rigidity. Point F and point C may not look as appealing compared to Point X but they could be perfect for you in a way Point X could never be. We choose our dreams and chart our course towards it, but most importantly what that makes us feel about ourselves. What we believe we can do versus what we believe we are.