My time in Bali is coming to a close and I decided to spend some time away from blogging. About half way through my trip, I realized there was still so much more I wanted to accomplish and that I'd really need to be alone with myself in order to do it.
I did a pulse check on my challenges to see where I was and how I was tracking to some of my goals. Not surprisingly, I was quite behind on some, and others, I had made strides beyond what I could have imagined. Nonetheless, I chose to take my status check just as it was and not as a qualifier of how I should feel...disappointed or proud.
In this time, I started and finished the book, The Zahir, by Paulo Coelho, who is one of my favorite authors. The book came to me by way of suggestion from my friend Luce -- someone who has not only been a professional confidant but has come to be one of my very good friends (and someone who I respect and admire greatly).
For anyone unfamiliar with this book, it's about a novelist whose wife of ten years goes missing and the book follows his journey to finding her. At face value, you may take the book for a mystery, a thriller of some sorts, traveling through the novelist's mind and investigations to uncover where his wife has disappeared to. But I connected with this book on so many more levels. There are consistent running themes of anxiety, obsession, expectations, self-discovery, companionship, and love. There were so many moments where I would just read and reread lines over and over, and stare up, and think of all the ways it connected to my life and my circumstances at this moment in time. I couldn't stop highlighting gems that I feel I need to keep with me forever as a reminder to stay true to myself, to not obsess over what I can't control, to let my soulmates (friendly or otherwise) drift in (and more importantly, out) of my life just as they are meant to, to never be complacent...and the list goes on and on.
Whether you've read the book or not, I highlighted some of the excerpts that resonated with me the most. I hope to read them often to remind myself of these lessons.
"While I was fighting, I heard other people speaking in the name of freedom, and the more they defended this unique right, the more enslaved they seemed to be to their parents’ wishes, to a marriage in which they had promised to stay with the other person “for the rest of their lives,” to the bathroom scales, to their diet, to half-finished projects, to lovers to whom they were incapable of saying “No” or “It’s over,” to weekends when they were obliged to have lunch with people they didn’t even like. Slaves to luxury, to the appearance of luxury, to the appearance of the appearance of luxury. Slaves to a life they had not chosen, but which they had decided to live because someone had managed to convince them that it was all for the best."
Lesson: breaking free from societal norms, breaking free from expectations, living a life true to oneself, and not wasting any time on people who don't add value to your life
"Until one morning, I’ll wake up and find I’m thinking about something else, and then I’ll know the worst is over. My heart might be bruised, but it will recover and become capable of seeing the beauty of life once more. It’s happened before, it will happen again, I’m sure. When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive—I’ll find love again."
Lesson: time will heal
"I don’t know what the rest of my life will be like; that’s why it’s better to live cherishing a dream than face the possibility that it might all come to nothing."
Lesson: I particularly connected with this. I often find that I do not pursue things out of fear of failure. I want to find courage in the experimentation and value in the failure.
"People do their best not to remember and not to accept the immense magical potential they possess, because that would upset their neat little universes.” “But we all have the ability, don’t we?” “Absolutely, we just don’t all have the courage to follow our dreams and to follow the signs. Perhaps that’s where the sadness comes from."
Lesson: There is a magical potential in all of us, some so great that it can be paralyzing, until we find confidence to harness that energy positively.
"The two travel along together in their symbolic worlds, two impossibilities who have found each other, and because they overcome their own natures and their barriers, they make the world possible too. That is the Mongolian creation myth: out of two different natures love is born. In contradiction, love grows in strength. In confrontation and transformation, love is preserved."
Lesson: This one just makes me smile. Love has a way of growing in those most unexpected of places, and that is such a beautiful thing.
"First, that as soon as people decide to confront a problem, they realize that they are far more capable than they thought they were. Second, that all energy and knowledge come from the same unknown source, which we usually call God. What I've tried to do in my life, ever since I first started out on what I believe to be my path, is to honor that energy, to connect with it everyday, to allow myself to be guided by the signs, to learn by doing and not by thinking about doing."
"No one should ever ask themselves that: Why am I unhappy? The question carries within it the virus that will destroy everything. If we ask that question, it means we want to find out what makes us happy. If what makes us happy is different from what we have now, then we must either change once and for all or stay as we are, feeling even more unhappy."
Lesson: Find what makes you happy. Do not fear the answers.
"If I behave in the way people expect me to behave, I will become their slave. It requires enormous self-control not to succumb, because our natural tendency is to want to please, even if the person to be pleased is us."
"I feel both things at once, I don’t have to choose. I can travel back and forth between the oppositions inside me, between my contradictions."
Lesson: I am in constant travel between my contradictions. I do not have to choose.
"I must try to enjoy all the graces that God has given me today. Grace cannot be hoarded. There are no banks where it can be deposited to be used when I feel more at peace with myself. If I do not make full use of these blessings, I will lose them forever."
Lesson: Grace cannot be hoarded. I must enjoy and use my blessings today.