Whether we are embarking on a new life change or want to discover our life's dream, we will all face obstacles along the way. Paulo Coelho's book, The Alchemist is a fable about a shepherd boy in search of dreams. It is about the incredible adventures and challenges he faces along the way. The Alchemist is a story about a hero on his journey.
We are all embarking on the hero's journey to some extent or another. We are all hero's of our own story, struggling and finding our own way. The hero's journey is a mythic, universal story of transformation and awakening. It is full of challenges and tests. It is the path towards true self, one that if ventured successfully, will inevitably bring good deeds back to our own community.
But there are things to be aware of when we want to live our dreams. Major challenges that show up as obstacles and resistance. Here are four that Paulo Coelho speaks of in The Alchemist:
1. The first obstacle: We are told from childhood that what we want is impossible.
Parents, society, peers tell us it is impossible to have what we really want. This is the first and biggest obstacle. If you can't believe you can have what you want, or let yourself dream it, then you certainly won't pursue it. Paulo Coelho says: "We learn from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our souls as to be invisible."
Believe what you want is possible. It is possible because it is a deep desire that has arisen within you. Know that you deserve to have what you really want.
It could be that you true heart's desire springs comes from the deep desire of the Universe. If this is true, then the Universe will conspire to make it happen, though there may be severe tests and challenges along the way. It will ultimately test your strength and resolve.
2. The second obstacle: Love.
Paulo Coelho writes, "We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream." We are so attached to the people we love, we cannot leave them or disappoint them to pursue our own calling. We see pursuing our life's dream and providing love for others as mutually exclusive, instead of seeing them both as reflection of a greater whole.
Being in pursuit of what you love does not diminish your connection and love with others. In fact, it enhances it. Your true friends and loved ones will support you in your highest path. They will always be there for you, and by living your true path, you will have more to offer them. Anyone who abandons you in search of your true path may have done so because of their own fears, needs and insecurities. "Love" that keeps us from our own dreams, is not true love.
3. The third obstacle: Fear.
This is fear of being defeated along the way. We are afraid of failure. We put so much into following our own life path, by taking an enormous leap of faith, it becomes increasingly difficult to pretend that it wasn't a big deal that we didn't achieve it.
We fear looking bad. We don't understand that defeat is part of the path. Oftentimes, the further you are along your path, the more difficult it can be. You will face setbacks and failures. You will not know which way to turn. At some point, you will think the journey wasn't worth making. This is part of the journey. You must remember that whatever anyone else thinks doesn't matter. Not even your best friends.
Give yourself permission to fail. The more you do, the closer you are to success. When you persevere and overcome your defeats, it will be worth it, because you will be filled with a greater sense of self and purpose.
4. The fourth obstacle: The fear of realizing our dreams.
With so many people around us who have not realized their dreams, we feel guilty realizing ours. So many people do not live in pursuit of deeper meaning and dreams. Why should we? We do not feel worthy of really achieving our dreams and therefore will often stop short of realizing it.
We must see ourselves as worthy of accomplishing our dreams. Again, if we can envision it, why would it not be ours for the taking?
When our dreams are closest to us, they will often feel most far. The last stretch towards your dream will seem most difficult. It will test your inner sense of worth, perseverance, and faith.
We so deeply crave and want acceptance, that we are willing to hold ourselves back to "be" with others. Things did not work out for others, why should they work out for us? We do not want to separate from the pack, or allow ourselves to soar higher. "Who are we?" we ask.
Instead we should ask: "Who are we not?"
Don't compare yourself with others. What you choose to do has nothing to do with others. When we follow what we love, we allow ourselves to be transformed in the struggle of our journey. We become the hero of our story, but we must give ourselves permission to discover our own inner excellence and channel it deeply and freely. Alan Watts encourages us, "To follow your own weird... and thus be odd in the service of God."
So let yourself fly. Be a little weird. And let yourself dream big!