“’People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been great but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were hidden forever in the sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.’…’Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.’”(136)
It is a long quote but when I read it, the whole thing just stuck with me. This quote explains to the reader not only Santiago’s heart’s feelings, but also our own heart’s fears and desires. People become blinded by fear and hurt when they go through difficult times. But those who have strong faith that their circumstances will improve and really strive to make that happen will see the truth in it all. Santiago did and he achieved his goal. He never gave up when the trials of the world were at their hardest. As much as he wanted to, he continued on his long journey to find his treasure.
Everyone goes through difficult times in his or her life. Whether it is financial, family, school, moral issues, or other problems people may have with themselves in general. All are not easy to deal with, but all can be overcome. I know this because I have lived through it. When I was in sixth grade my parents got a divorce. My younger sister and I were devastated and confused. “Why is this happening?” “How could God let this happen?” “When will it get better?” These were all questions I asked myself practically every night before bed. Thankfully my mom was a strong Believer and did not let the circumstances turn her beliefs for the worst. She was my alchemist, in a way. Every morning she started reading devotionals to us while we ate breakfast before school, prayed with us at night, and even got the three of us purity rings to help with our walk with God. In the end we all became stronger. But it did not get better before it got harder.
One of my least favorite sayings is, “Things will get worse before they get better.” To me that sounded so negative and pessimistic. People told me that all the time. In my eyes that just made things seem like they would only get worse and worse. Never better because it would keep getting worse first. It is a saying you can say when looking back on situations. Now looking back on the past few years, I see it was true. So many things went wrong those years I had to visit my dad. He had made some choices that he had taught me my whole life were wrong. When he tried to tell me that they were not wrong, I knew in my heart they were. My conscience the whole time was sending little red flags saying, “Whoa, you know that’s wrong. This is what the Word says, not that.” I have learned to listen to my heart, like Santiago did in the desert. When I read the line that said Santiago and his heart were so close it was not possible to betray one another, I thought, ‘Wow, I would love to have that kind of relationship with my God. Being so close that it was harder to betray Him. Not impossible, because I am human. But more unlikely that I would because I am so close to Him.’ It seems Santiago was closer to his heart than I am with God, at least for now.
One of my biggest goals in life is that my relationship with God will be like King David’s. King David was a strong and wise king because he listened to the voice of God and followed it…most of the time. He was human so he did make mistakes. But David was so much in love with God and so faithful to Him. I strive to have a relationship like that with God.
As I got older things got harder. The time we had to visit our dad was probably the time I was least cheerful. It was so hard having to wear a mask all the time. My mom started taking us to our church around this time and I met people that helped me through every step. One person in particular was always there when I was in trouble or needed someone to talk to. He is still one of my best friends and I love him so much. This friend, my youth pastors, some family, and the greatest friends I could have asked for at that time in my life were all alchemists to me. They all helped me in my walk with God.
By about the end of seventh grade I was tired of going to my dad’s. All through eighth grade I really did not want to go. I was tired of going because it was too much drama. I got bad feelings in my gut when I went. I would isolate myself in my sister’s and my room and stayed there unless I got to go to my church, to a friend’s, or another event. I was so happy when Sunday night came and I could go home. Last October, we practically begged her to tell him so we would not have to go anymore at all. So that day he agreed and we went to Joe’s Crab Shack to celebrate. Life seemed to be pretty good just like it did with Santiago when found Fatima.
But my story still was not over at that point. Nor was Santiago’s. Love is a tricky thing. It just reminds me that life is full of unexpected surprises, like having to turn yourself into wind and communicate with the Soul of the World and your heart. Only looking at all the bad can destroy you. The crystal merchant could have reached his dream, but he was too afraid he would have nothing to live for after this accomplishment. I believe that if he had gone to Mecca he would have actually felt fulfilled. Maybe there was something there for him that would have made his Personal Legend more than just a religious trip. He would never know because he never tried. I realize that my Personal Legend, my life story is still being written. I hope the last sentence in my book can say, “I followed my heart, achieved my goals, and stayed true to my faith in God.”