(First posted December 22, 2009)
The things that happen to us in life do so because we act. The more we act, the more opportunities we have upon which to act, the more we connect creating a vessel filled with learning moments. If we don’t act on the moments, each will become an opportunity lost. Even so, it’s important not to think about what may have been left behind.
My vessel is an alchemy of acts from which new opportunities are poured – acts attract acts. Paulo Coelho wrote in his bestseller, The Alchemist, “There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”
It was ten years ago that I first read Coelho’s enchanting fable. It was in preparation for leading a group of four young professionals to the state of Sáo Paulo in Brazil that I learned of Paulo Coelho and his 1988 novel. The book fit well into my own philosophy and set the tone for the trip and remains instrumental to my life.
Again, one act leads to another when at this past Sunday’s Society of the 5th Cave reading club meeting, The Alchemist was selected for the March reading. Once again the concept of alchemy is front stage, this time from a different perspective, which will create many new learning moments.
I’m pleased to be reading this inspiring book ten years out. The Alchemist is the gift that keeps on giving. Just today I received an email from my brother Tom, reminding me of someone I have also not read in recent years, American poet, Conrad Aiken, which my poem “Solstice Night,” reminded him of the first lines from Aiken’s long poem, “The House of Dust.”
The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light.
The trees grow dark: the shadows lean to the east:
And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.
In turn, his reminding me of Conrad Aiken, and the return of The Alchemist, that reminded me of the following from Aiken’s poem, “A Letter from Li Po.”
What’s true in these, or false? which is the ‘I’
of ‘I’s’? Is it the master of the cadence, who
transforms all things to a hoop of flame, where through
tigers of meaning leap? And are these true,
the language never old and never new,
such as the world wears on its wedding day,
the something borrowed with something chicory blue?
In every part we play, we play ourselves;
even the secret doubt to which we come
beneath the changing shapes of self and thing,
yes, even this, at last, if we should call
and dare to name it, we would find
the only voice that answers is our own.
We are once more defrauded by the mind.
Defrauded? No. It is the alchemy by which we grow.
It is the self-becoming word, the word
becoming world. And with each part we play
we add to cosmic Sum and cosmic sum.
Who knows but one day we shall find,
hidden in the prism at the rainbow’s foot,
the square root of the eccentric absolute,
and the concentric absolute to come.
Life has so many gifts that keep on giving. Become a part of the act.