Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Alchemist

I have been a reading fool lately. Every spare moment. Do you ever do that? My reading is very streaky. Lots, then nothing.

Anyway, my latest was The Alchemist, recommended by my brother on a mission. It was first written in Portuguese and that's the language of the people he is teaching in Mozambique. It came up in conversation and those Africans were so excited to hear that Matt had read it. So I figured why not.

The story reads like a legend/fable and is about a boy named Santiago who goes in search of his true heart's desire, his personal destiny. Many people give up just short of realizing their treasure, but Santiago demonstrates perseverance.  I don't agree with the title.  In my opinion The Boy or The Journey would be more appropriate since it's about all the realizations and learning he makes.  But whatever.

The author, Paul Cohelo, explains more:

"It’s [your Personal Legend] what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend".

He tells us about the obstacles we will face and about some things that stand in the way of individuals realizing their dreams. And the moment I read them I started to weep.

Here are the quotes that spoke to me.

"People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don't deserve them, or that they'll be unable to achieve them."

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure."

"Listen to your heart. It knows all things, because it came from the Soul of the World, and it will one day return there. Wherever your heart is, that is where you'll find your treasure. Your heart is alive. Keep listening to what it has to say."

". . . 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."

“When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force.”

Okay, so I'm bearing my soul here.

I have to listen to my heart, and my heart says I have to get my bachelor's degree.  BYU has a degree path that you can finish at home if you were a former full time student.  I know it's just right for me.  I knew it when I heard about it years ago.  I picked up a flyer at the church bulletin board and at home I thought    

   No.  I just can't.

I'm scared out of my mind.  The biggest fear I have in my whole life is fear of failure (who, me?  perfectionist?), school or not.  Diet? No thanks, I'll fail.  Stay on a housework schedule? No, I'll never stick to it.  The hugest failure of my whole life so far has been school. 

I was a goof-off at BYU and never took it seriously.  I was dismissed for academic suspension.  I have about three semesters of work there and a good bit of that will need re-taken. 

So for the last 16 years I've felt like a failure in that regard.  I know I'm smart.  I know I should have a degree.  And it's just the plain truth that I don't.  Every time I think about it I just bleed inside.  Every time my husband mentions me going back I laugh it off.  What?  After barely making it while watching you do the last 6+ years of school?  Yeah right!  No more school! 

Hubby is never-endingly supportive.  Never EVER teases me about it.  And with the Utah/BYU rivalry going on around here he surely has opportunities to.

I have kids. I have a life now. Blah blah blah. I have had a decade of telling myself why it wasn't logical to do this. Now in two days of reading one book I want to turn my life upside down?

When our church leaders say how important it is to be an educated woman because you "just never know", it hurts so bad.

When I fill out those darn surveys that say "check highest level of educated completed" I want to scream, But I'm smart!  I know more than just high school!

The one caveat would be money;  since I'm pursuing undergraduate work I should be able to get grants.  I'm not going into more debt because of this and I think it really will work out.

Part of the reason I'm posting about this is to keep me honest, because I know myself, and I know how easy it is for me to run away from hard things. I've emailed a counselor to see what I need to do to begin.  I must take two courses first to get back into good academic standing with the university before I can apply with the program.  And there ya go.

This will be the largest leap of faith I've ever done.  In The Bible it says "and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world". (Matt 28:20).

How I hope that is true!


  1. Got to say when I say the title of this post I thought it was something to do with the "Settlers of Catan" game :)

  2. I loved that book.
    And wow- thanks for sharing your goal. I think that's awesome, and so glad you are going for it. What a great example to your kids and others. All the best to you!

  3. Good for you, Jen!! You can do it!

  4. I am so excited for you! I went back and got my associates after I had kids. Yes, it was hard, but there are things about it I really miss now that I'm not going anymore: I loved using my brain. I felt like I was accomplishing something. It was such a self-esteem boost to recieve a good grade on a project that I worked hard on.
    I bet there's things you'll love about going back to school. Best of luck to you! I think it's an incredible goal you've set for yourself. :-)

  5. I did the same thing in college. I goofed off and missed finishing my associates degree by one semester. I've always wanted to go back, but just get further and further from that goal every year. I'm excited for you and I'm hoping maybe what you're doing will inspire me to do the same! :) Keep us posted and good luck!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!