When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
I remember when I first read this book. Cover to cover on a friends' bed in boarding school. Possibly the darkest time of my life so far, with the promise of happiness a very very faint glimmer far below the horizon. I'd like to think that this was one of the most beautiful things I encountered that year. And I didn't know it then, but I'd read and re-read this many many times in my journey from then to now. And I'd use it as a float, as a foothold in the rockface. As a tiny flame, trying to light a big enough fire to burn away the cobwebs, the dust, the rot that boarding school put into me. (Yes, it WAS that bad. No,I would NEVER do it again. Yes,I am glad I did it once. But once was f.ing enough.)
And having read it a hundred times since, and looking back from then to now, I can see crystal clearly, that it has not 'replaced' my thinking (I've always disagreed with that phrase. It neglects completely neglects how fluid the mind is), it has certainly given me a lens I would not have used before.
And that is:
If this is happening, forget for a second how uncomfortable it feels and ask yourself: What has made it happen? Why am I here, is there some magic I need to extract from this? This 'thing' is pushing me deep down, but can I use it to climb higher up? Can I, in other words, become an alchemist turning anything I can think about into gold?
Is alchemy simply understanding + imagination?