“The Alchemist”, continued

In my last post, I mentioned a journal entry written February 2005 that referred to my having read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. In this entry, I referred to a couple of mind- and heart-opening moments, one of which was about the author saying that love can be the impetus for the journey and that those who wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.

The second moment I wrote about in that journal entry came later on in the book and it frightened me. I had this thought that maybe photography was a means to what I was meant to be—an adventurer. As I wrote then, I don’t know where that came from because I’m timid about a lot things even if I don’t usually let them control me. Maybe ‘adventurer’ isn’t necessarily the same as traveller—one can be an adventurer in lots of ways—but somehow, that was what was on my mind. I wrote that it was like I tapped into a long-ago, little-girl dream of seeing the world.

Prior to this, in 2003, I took my first safari. When I started planning it, I remember having an internal discussion when I realized that if I took that trip, I would not have the time and money to go to Texas at Christmas to be with my family, as had been my practice. Part of me wanted to excuse myself from going to Texas because I was usually the one who traveled to see my family rather than them traveling to see me. Another part of me replied that I was the one who made the trips because I had the money—my sisters had families and mortgages and animals and couldn’t afford to travel as much as I could. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head and I realized that they didn’t have travel money because they were pursuing their dreams and allocating funds to their priorities and that it was okay for me to pursue my dreams and allocate my money to non-family travel.

All of this has come to the forefront again, especially after my experiences this past year. Due to a severe concussion sustained in an accident, I was not able to return to the kind of work I had been doing before the accident. At about the time I was bouncing off the walls out of boredom and frustration, a friend offered me a ticket to help her move to France. Somehow, a planned visit of three weeks morphed into my staying four months! I spent time in France, went to Venice for a photography workshop, and spent five weeks in magical Florence. I loved being able to sink into the life of each place I was in, instead of being a tourist passing through, and I loved being able to photograph the day-to-day sights. 

I’ve thought about this a lot since I returned from Europe and I’ve decided to take a different approach to travel. For now, I’m not going to think of travel as a reward for working hard at my job. Instead, I’m going to think of travel as what I do.

“The Alchemist”

Recently, some thoughts swirling around in my head made me look at a journal entry from several years ago. Let me say here that I am not one of those people who writes consistently in a journal; maybe that’s why I was able to find this entry!

This journal entry was written on February 6, 2005 and referred to my having read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho in November on my way to Annapolis, MD for a family weekend at my nephew’s college. In this entry, I referred to a couple of mind- and heart-opening moments. One was at the beginning of the book when the author said that love can be the impetus for the journey and that those who wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey.

I noted at the time that I had never thought in that way and that I always felt that I had to cut my cloth to suit my romantic relationships. Not sure why I felt that way, given that I am neither a conformist or a wimp, but I did. I was hesitant to go on a ‘journey’ of any kind—whether an actual journey or the internal journey of trying something new—if my (serious) boyfriend at the time wasn’t interested in accompanying me.

I was struck by this all over again as I reread the entry. At the time, I saw that hesitancy as more specific to romantic relationships, but now I realize that it applies to family and friends as well. I would love for my family and friends to come along when I do things like go on safari, but I have to believe that while they might be a little envious, they don’t begrudge me following my dreams, just as I don’t begrudge them the good things in their lives, even if I am occasionally envious. Whether the journey is an actual journey or an internal journey, I like to think that they are accompanying me in their hearts and minds.