I’m embarking on a little blog-project that I’m calling 40 for 40. Every artist gets their inspiration from somewhere, and I’ve decided I’m going to document 40 things that inspire me to create.
1:40 = The Alchemist
On a recent trip to Seattle, I got lost in the underbelly of Pike Place Market. It can be a strange place – a maze of strange shops all piled up on top of each other. No surprise I found the comic book shop and the used book store. I have blogged about books before, but I have to say that I have a certain passion for Used-book stores and libraries. My father was a highschool librarian, and used to take me with him on book buying trips for his library. (One time, in a giant book warehouse somewhere in Richmond, I ended up in the “erotic” section – how thrilling was that for a 10 year old!) My father was furious (and possibly proud, I’ll never know). Anyways, there is nothing to me like a used book store. Stacks of books organised in such a way that you know the book-store owner knows exactly where things are, but it’s up to you to look, discover for yourself. Art History books are my downfall. Cookbooks. History books. Children’s books. And philosophy. Those are my first loves.
So wandering through the stacks of a used-book store in Pike’s Place Market, I found a copy of The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. I read it about 15-20 years ago, and it stuck with me. Typical story, lent it to someone who never gave it back, always wanted to read it again. I was so excited to have it again, I started to read it standing waiting for a girlfriend shopping in Macy’s. Yes, that powerful that it could divert my attention from shopping.
The novel tells the story of a young shepherd boy who has a dream about finding treasure. He embarks on a journey to the Egyptian pyramids, and along the way discovers his personal legend. The core philosophy of the book is “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” He meets an Alchemist in the desert, who teaches him many things, but overall, that if a person doesn’t understand their own personal legend, they will fail to comprehend its teachings. Santiago, the shepherd, learns how to listen, how to see, and how to understand himself and his own personal legend.
Having freshly re-read this book , there are a lot of conversations a person can have about the philosophies that are wound through the story. Early last year when I started blogging, my mandate was to capture my creative process in a way that was meaningful to me, and entertaining to others. One thing I have learned about myself is that even tho I may be almost 40, I am really only just beginning to be who I am – I consider myself to be at the beginning of my personal journey. Many people came to their craft later in life – Van Gogh didn’t start painting until his late 20′s – and he died at 37. I guess what I’m saying, is no matter how old you are, or how buried that dream is of yours, it’s never too late to revisit your own personal dreams. Like a book buried in a stack in a used-book store, waiting to be discovered. Over time, it may be a little more work to uncover, but it’s still there, hopefully intact. The world we live in is a strange one – anything is possible – the difference I guess is whether you get up off the couch and make it happen, or, not.