“In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left you.”
-Paulo Coelho from The Alchemist
Perhaps my all-time favorite book, certainly in the fiction genre, is The Alchemist. No other novel has captured my imagination nor inspired as much tangible real-life action as this beloved story of a boy on a journey towards his "personal legend." I've read it at least 10 times over the past 10 years, and every time, I can identify some current element of my life to a new part of the boy's journey. A month ago, Jaimie and I listened to it again while on a trip to Florida. Near the beginning of the book, he learns of omens--these mystical signs or occurrences that point one in the right direction or provide warning. Some might think of these as coincidences, luck, divine encounters, one's conscience, or messages sent from the Universe. In fact, an old man tells the boy that when you want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it. Despite any differences in spiritual beliefs, I've found this to be true: there is a universal power that leads, directs, enables, and prods us in the direction of our "personal legends," when we are seeking good and beautiful things for ourselves and others. Whenever we know our dreams, passions, or calling, these messages appear around us like little easter eggs. Particularly recently, this has been very true for us.
In retrospect, I can see how intricately the pieces are fitting together to lead us to where we are, all because we trusted in the omens along the path and expected them to lead us when we did not see the way out. Often this has required significant levels of trust, risk, intentionality, and an awareness of the world around us. Another passage of the Alchemist puts it this way, "In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty, nor impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.” I think often in life, we get moving too quickly and fail to take the time to look around us--really look-- and see how things are slowly changing, aligning, and transitioning us for the next season. In a culture of immediacy and convenience, we're losing the ancient practices of stillness, awareness, and gratitude, which are required for us to follow the omens.
Omens are meant to guide us along our way. However, when we stop looking for them or plainly ignore them when they're dancing before us, they will fade in time and abandon us. Thus, I think many of us are living in this world unfulfilled, directionless, and without passion. This, my friends, is a very sad affair. Take some time this week to reflect on the past year or so of life. What moments felt significant, pointing you towards something that made you come alive? What quotes, conversations, books, or movies made you consider your journey's trajectory? What took your breath away and captivated your imagination for days or weeks afterward? Who have you had a chance encounter with, or perhaps dreamt of, that encouraged something in you that you haven't thought about in a while? What around you overwhelmed you with its beauty?
These things can all be omens. Begin paying attention to them and the conversations they start, inwardly or outwardly. This awareness will allow you to begin seeing omens literally everywhere. You will begin to see how events align and how certain things that appeared to be curses or misfortunes were miraculously the sources of your greatest strengths and pronounced happiness. The Universe wants all of us to be willfully living, chasing after our dreams, passions, and hopes in an effort to make the world a more beautiful, good, and loving place. I'm learning to trust and appreciate these things and align with them, having so much fun in the process. Won't you join me?