“It got good reviews in both Israeli and Arab press, it must be good” says my husband. Usually Arab and Israeli press are the mirror opposites of each other. If one side praises something then the other side thinks it is the true embodiment of evil. The source of this unique harmony in the Middle East is a book called the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. My husband runs out of the coffee shop we are sitting in, to go to the bookstore next door. “I just got to buy this book he mutters as he runs out. He then runs back into the coffee shop and plunks this little book into my hands. “You got to read this,” he tells me. “You got to read it,” he repeats several times.
I am still struggling with my vow of reading deprivation. As an avid reader, I had just realized that I am very knowledgeable about world affairs, the human condition, art, politics, history, philosophy; you name it I know about it. However I am not putting any of this knowledge into good use. I have read enough, I declared a mere two months earlier, I will stop being an observer and become a doer. I will do something about all this knowledge inside my head and make a difference in the world. Reading about it and then having interesting discussions at dinner parties is for idiots. For two months I have watched my husband finish one juicy novel after the next; while I held steadfast to my vow of abstaining from reading. This reading deprivation is hard on me. Now the ultimate temptation, a book so highly recommended, plus it is so small, it won’t take long to read. Plus it’s called The Alchemist. I have been so good for two months. Would it really hurt if I deviate just a little and made an exception just this once. Oh yeah! Addictions are hard to break and mine is the hard-core kind. My name is ihath and I am a book addict — You are supposed to say “Hello ihath” at this point.
I start reading the first page from The Alchemist right there in the coffee shop. Santiago, a young man has a happy and content life. Then he meets a mysterious figure that tells him that he must follow his dreams. Santiago must give up everything that he has in his current life in order to take a long and risky journey towards his dream. Few weeks later, I quit my highly paid job although I don’t have an alternative job offer, I decide to start my own project. My family thinks I am crazy. My husband thinks that I am experiencing mid life crisis in my early thirties. Such rash behavior from a mostly reasonable person. Ex “mostly reasonable person” by now.
Who knew that reading deprivation could have such an explosive change on your life?
Shortly after Santiago starts this journey, he falls flat on his face. Splat! Ouch! But now he is stuck in the middle, he can’t go back to comfortable old life style and he can’t get to his dream either. Oh man! What was I thinking? What craziness took hold of me? Why did I read The Alchemist? I should have been realistic. All this talk about following your dream and living out your personal legend, that is nonsense. There is everyday reality to content with, there are bills to pay. Wake up! You can’t just fantasize about something crazy and then expect that it will just happen. Nobody has that kind of a control over his destiny. Ok! That was pretty stupid, back track, lets work hard on getting back to that comfortable lifestyle we had before. Lets go back to square number one. Lesson learned: don’t trust crazy mysterious people that tell you to follow your dream. People like that are dangerous. Dangerous, I tell you.
Santiago has to work hard in a crystal shop for a whole year in order to save enough money so that he could go back to where he started and go back to his original life style. He finally saves up enough money and is ready to go back home, when suddenly something grips him again and he decides that he can always get back home later, Santiago’s risky journey continues.
Just Like Santiago, I have found my way to a safe crystal shop where I have been for a little over one year. I have gathered my strength back, but what now? Knowing about the ordeals the Santiago faced after he leaves the Crystal Shop. Do I have the courage to continue with the original path I set out upon, more than a year ago? Now that I know how difficult this road is, do I have the courage to walk it again? I will probably fall flat on my face again. I think I need a kick in the behind to get me out of the crystal shop. On one hand I am terrified, on the other hand I know that if I stop following the omens they will stop appearing.
I no longer have a desire to read any more books; they all seem to be saying the same thing. The ultimate and most exciting story is the one I am creating right this minute, every minute of my life, with every breath. The book addict has encountered the ultimate fix. I am a book reader no more. My phase of reading deprivation has paid off.
Don’t read The Alchemist, it is dangerous. It will make you do crazy stuff like starting a blog, yearning to dance and believing that your craziest dreams might come true. You will start believing that you can change the world around you and that you are not a passive passenger in this life. You will fall flat on your face again and again but keep going on. You have been warned, don’t read this book. Go back to your safe, sane and predictable life.
Are you an avid reader who has attempted reading deprivation? If yes I would love to hear from you.