(1) Do you like reading? (2) Do you actually read? (3) Do you read fiction, non-fiction, or both?
These three questions are quite good to learn about yourself.
As for myself, (1) I like reading because I am passionate about learning new things (otherwise, you will live only in your limited world). (2) As much as I would like to read, I haven’t been able to catch up with my book lists (although I read around 30 articles per week), because I use the limited time for other things. (3) I usually like non-fiction to gain more knowledge and life lessons from the real world.
But this time, I learned important life lessons when I went beyond my styleーreading a fiction book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho in its original language (Portuguese). As I believe some of the learning, if not all, can be beneficial for others, let me share in this post.
Why Reading The Alchemist in Portugues in Kenya
This happened by chance, and one thing led to the other unexpected result, just like life itself. In a nutshell, my curiosity led to reading Alchemist in Portuguese in Kenya and listening to my heart. Let’s dive deeper.
- Curiosity→New York: I was always curious about new learning and challenges, so I decided to study acting in New York.
- New York→Kitchen: Had I not studied acting in New York, I would not have entered a kitchen job.
- Kitchen→Spanish: Kitchen in NY is full of Latinos, and I decided to learn Spanish with my colleagues.
- Spanish→deep conversation with Latino: Through my self-study and daily conversation, I became quite fluent in Spanish, which allowed me to have a deep conversation with my fellow Latino colleagues.
- Deep conversation with Latino→International aid: Had I not had deep conversations with one of my Latino colleagues/friends, I would not have entered the international aid field
- International aid→Kenya: This international aid field led me to work in Chile, Mongolian, Mauritania and Kenya.
- Kenya→Portuguese: In Kenya, I work for 21 countries including Lusophone countries (Portuguese speaking countries like Mozambique and Angola) so I decided to self-study Portuguese.
- Portuguese→Searching material: Because of my Portuguese study, I was looking for good materials, such as podcasts, conversational sites, youtube, books and music (and while I am writing this, I am listening to Brazilian music!)
- Searching material→The Alchemist: Had I not tried to continue language learning, I would not have found The Alchemist in Portuguese, the original texts.
- The Alchemist→listening to my heart: After reading The Alchemist in Portuguese, I learned various important things including the value fo listening to my heart.
15 learning from The Alchemist
This was not the first time to encounter this book. I had already read this book in Japanese more than 10 years ago (It was a birthday present from my Japanese actor friend) Honestly, I don’t think it was such an impressive experience as I don’t remember any “ah-ha” moment. This time, however, I had many “ah-ha” moments, partly because I was paying more attention to each word (Portuguese over Japanese rapid reading). It was probably because I have more experience than 10 years ago?
Below are the best 15 quotes I chose are in order of Category: quote in Portuguese (my translation) and key learning
- Travel: “Entre nós, só os pastores viajam. → Então serei pastor (Between us, only pastors travel → Then I will become a pastor).”
An educated man can be rich and stay in one place, but, the boy will choose to travel to know the world.
- Make your own path: “em determinado momento de nossa existência, perdemos o controle de nossas vidas, e ela passa a ser governaada pelo destino. Este é a maior mentira do mondo.” (at a certain point in our existence, we lose control of our lives, and it becomes governed by destiny. This is the biggest lie in the world.)”
This teaches us that our life is not determined by others but you can change it if you want.
- Wish will come true: “existe uma grande verdade neste planeta: seja você quem for ou o que faça, quando quer com vontade alguma coisa, é porque este desejo nasceuna alma do Universo. É sua missão na Terra. (there is a great truth on this planet: whoever you are or what you do, when you want something, it is because this desire is born in the soul of the Universe. It is your mission on Earth.)”
Your willpower will be such a strong one coming from your life mission
- Stick to your dream: “As pessoas aprendem muito cedo sua razão de viver. Talvez seja por isso que elas desistem tão cedo também. Mas assim é o mundo. (People learn their reason for living very early. Maybe that’s why they give up so soon, too. But so is the world.)”
We tend to know what we want to do/be early but give up. But if we provide enabling environment and support, we can flip this.
- World is too big to catch it all: “Vou sempre procurar manter o pouco que tenho, porque sou penqueno demais para abraçar o mundo (I will always try to keep few things I have, because I am too small to embrace the whole world)”
you just need to have what you need/can instead of too many things.
- New can be strange: “Não era un mundo estranho; era un mundo novo (It was not a strange world; it was a new world)”
We tend to consider new things as strange and weird things, so we just need to embrace it.
- Faith over money: “Ao invés de sentir-se triste, ficou feliz….Não tinha um centavo no bolso, mas tinha fé na vida. (Instead of feeling sad, he was happy. He didn’t have a penny in my pocket, but had faith in life.)”
After getting his money stolen and found the most important thing, he found his path to follow.
- You learn, not they teach: “Acho que não são elas que ensinam; eu é que aprendo. (it is not them who teach, it is me who learns)”
This shows the importance of proactiveness to learn something instead of waiting for someone to teach you.
- WIllpower: “Quando você desja algo de todo o seu cração, você está mais próximo da Alma do Mundo. Ela é sempre uma força positiva. (When you desire something with all your heart, you are closer to the Soul of the World. She is always a positive force.)”
When you really want (and you take action) it will come true
- Appreciation because of difficulty: Talvez Deus tenha criado o deserto para que o homen pudesse sorrir com as tamareiras (Maybe God created a desert so that man can smile with the date palm trees).
We can appreciate simple things because of the difficulty.
- Don’t fear to suffer: “..o medo de sofrer é pior do que o própio sofrimento (the fear to suffer is worse than the suffering itself)”
You will suffer more if you worry too much.
- Process over result: “Cada momento de busca é um momento de encontro (every moment of searching is a momento of finding)”
We should enjoy the process, not only the outcome result
- Challenge before success: “a hora mais escura era a que vinha antes do sol nascer (the darkest hour was the the hour before sunrise)”
There is no rain that will not stops, and maybe the most difficult time is before the success.
- You have what you need: “Quando temos os grandes tesouros diante de nós, nunca percebemos. Porque os homens não acreditam em tesouros (When we have great treasure in front of us, we don’t realize, because we don’t believe in treasure).”
Maybe the you already have the most important things with you, and you just don’t noitce.
- Alquemist is someone who improves: “Alquimia poderia ser aprendidad na vida diária……..Os alquimistas fazem isto. Mostram que, quando buscamos ser melhores do que somos, tudo em volta se torna melhor também…Somos nos que alimentamos a Alma do Mundo, e a terra onde vivemos será melhor ou pior, se formos mehores ou piores (Alquemia could be learned through daily life….the alquemists do it. They show that when they aim to be better than what we are now, everything will turn better. We are the ones who feed the Soul of the World, and the land where we live will be better or worse, if we are better or worse)”
Alchemist is someone who tries to make anything better than the status quo (e.g. turn material to gold)
In the end, it is up to you whether or not you listen to your heart for your personal path (Lenda Pessoal), just like I didn’t feel much when I read it for the first time 10 years ago. When I read it again this time, I was having a difficult decision-making period, and listening to my own heart was one of the greatest decision factors. Also, as this book’s scene takes place in Africa, where I am and the desert and pyramid I visited, I could feel differently.
Probably reading Alchemist in Portuguese in Kenya was part of my Lenda Pessoal (personal legend).
The learning of this time
By reading The Alchemist in Portuguese in Kenya during a difficult decision-making process, I learned that life is full of choices, and one choice leads to another, all of which might be accessed by and leading to listening to your heart, or personal legend.
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