“for her, every day was the same, and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
I was on top of a mountain in Utah the first time I ever felt the universe. It was sad and overwhelming all at the same time. That day may have been the closest to God that I had ever felt. Not because God only exists on mountains, but because I was in the superficial phase of my journey when I believed I had to climb a mountain to find Him.
I was there to plant trees with other college students from across the United States as a larger tree conservation project. But the trees were not a project for me, they were a heartbeat. I am not sure if the guide told us to make a wish while we planted it, but I did. Back then I was stuck in a dream of love and being loved which I only saw with human eyes. Unrequited love was quite painful, and burying the tree helped to ease the pain. I didn’t know it then, but on that mountain would be the next person I dated. So as I was wrapped up in my love for a person who couldn’t quite love me back, another one was there, waiting in the wings.
The mountain experience was magical for me. In the process of making my wish and burying my pain, I had become a new creature. God was certainly there, impersonal as He was to me back then. But He spoke to me in the tree, and the ground and the sun. He was in the dirt that I sifted through my fingers…
These things are precursors to finding the God of the universe. They are small moments but important ones. I went up there to plant a tree, but instead God planted a seed in my soul that has since blossomed in my heart.
Reading The Alchemist brought me back to the mountain, to that tree, to the place that I was. It was the midst of the journey at the height of a mountain. I got lost in the story of one’s personal legend, the universe conspiring to make things happen and the treasure we search for which has been buried within us since the beginning of time. It is the classic story that it is engraved on the heart of every human, we see things in the physical and learn lessons from the treachery of life. But when we are truly searching for life’s meaning, we find that it has been etched on our hearts since the beginning of eternity. Some of the wisest and most godly men and women have never left their remote villages, but have traveled more years and more paths than those who backpacked across the world.
Sometimes it does take leaving one’s own home to discover that precious lesson. That at the end, we are far away from all that we know but not all that we are. This was my lesson on the Road to Hana in Hawaii. I missed most of the journey because I was so focused on getting to the end.
There was the beautiful waterfall, the quiet lunch on the side of the road and driving through the clouds. And we laughed when there was absolutely nothing at the end. The trip back was not as glorious and beautiful as the adventure forward, and I remembered next time to stop at every waterfall I passed.
I left my heart behind in Coelho’s book and I know that I will be reading it again soon, maybe even tonight. It made me remember the mountain, the road and my dreams. It made me remember that where my heart is, so also is my treasure.