“Please except this story from one traveler to another. May your journey be long and fulfilling. There may be bumps along the road, but take each challenge and learn from it” -Kevin Brown April 2010
The story is that of Santiago, the Andalusian Sheppard that discovered he has a personal Legend and followed it through to the end and found his treasure.
A Personal Legend is that what you have always wanted to accomplish. The King of Salem explains that “every one, when they are young, knows what their personal legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.” The King believes that everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits them.
Treasure is not gold or riches – the story of Santiago helped me to solidify my belief that life’s greatest treasure is fulfillment, and following a path to what you REALLY want most regardless of the challenges and repercussions that might await. It is said in Santiago’s tale that when you want something with all your heart that is when you are closest to the Soul of the World and the Soul of the World is always a positive force. The problem is that “people are afraid to pursue their most important dreams because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them” another problem that faces us now it the artificial importance that we place on things like careers, and money and material possessions. I think we lose our interest in following our deepest desires (as we cross over into adulthood) because we are faced with the shackles of “responsibility” that is ubiquitous in our culture. The King of Salem reminds Santiago that “in the long run what people think about bakers and sheppards becomes more important that their personal legends.” In our culture first we balk at those who do not go along with convention and affix the shackles of responsibility of the developed world, BUT this changes as soon as that person has succeeds at following their personal legend and finding their “treasure”. Once they have succeeded we are instantly overcome with envy and elevate the person to star status for mustering the courage to rebel against convention and follow their own Personal legends. This tells me that we are all aching to follow our dreams and listen to our hearts but society is able to exact too much control over our journeys to personal fulfillment.
The reality is that we all dream. We might not listen to our hearts, or have the courage to follow our Personal legends, but the dreams exist, and it is the “possibility [however remote] of having a dream come true that makes life interesting”. We tend to get so caught up in the everyday that we forget to take notice of the good things that are always happening to us – this is the root cause of that feeling of boredom when every day is exactly the same as the last and the next. All too often we forget that “it is the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary”. I think that we should spend more time looking for and learning how to recognize the small joys that are around us all the time; stop to smell the roses (so to speak).
The King suggests to Santiago that one of the hardest decisions is “choosing between something you’ve grown accustomed to and something you want to have”. Santiago realizes the importance of decisions, and the power they have to completely anyone’s trajectory “when someone makes a decision they are diving into a strong current that will carry them to places that they had never dreamed of”. The first time I heard the story of Santiago I thought it was about fate and allowing life to lead you down a path. The more I thought about the story of Santiago I realized that I was in error. I revisited the story of Santiago and found that it was quite the opposite – in order to realize personal fulfillment one must take an active role in making decisions, learning lessons and engaging in hard work to make it to the end. The journey to realizing a Personal Legend is not easy, but it is certainly rewarding. The story of Santiago encourages us to take an active role in our lives and not sit idly by as life takes over for us. Santiago warns us of a grave error “I am like everyone else I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen not what actually does” if we see the realities, we are more likely to act to make a difference rather than seeing the world as what might be and leaving reality up to “fate”.
The story of Santiago has a strong overtone of faith and a guiding hand that knows all and transcends the physical world. I’m not into God, so I have trouble envisioning a dude sitting somewhere controlling things… but to me this force - the soul of the world – is our humanity, a force that connects each being to all others. Santiago realizes that “intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life where the histories of all people are connected and we are able to know everything because it is all written there”: we can better understand the world if we understand that because of the world we are all inextricably connected. It is important that we all realize that no matter what it is that we do in our lives “every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world”.
Over the past year (from the moment I got accepted to the Beyond Borders Program) I have worked really hard to listen to my heart and follow whatever path it thought was best. The most important thing that I have learned in this year (despite spending a bunch on money on a “formal education”) is that I have a Personal Legend, and I know that I will not be happy with myself, or with my life, if I am not constantly on the path towards my Life Treasure. I can’t tell you what my Life Treasure is going to be because I cannot see the future, but someone on Santiago’s journey explains that the here and now is much more important than what is to come: “If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it and if you improve upon the present what comes later will be better”. I am willing to suffer the repercussions of not following convention (you should be laughing at this if you know me even a little bit) in favour of seeking out my Personal Legend. This is an uncharted path, and I expect many bumps along the way, but as the Camel driver explains “people need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they want and need” and after spending four months here in Ukraine I have learned that what I want and need is to listen to my heart and pursue my Personal Legend.
Maktub (it is written) that “no matter who you are or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something it is because that desire originated in the soul of the world and it is your mission in life” I encourage you to listen.