Review: The Alchemist

The day after I finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, not to be confused with The Alienist by Caleb Carr which is an entirely different book, there were several omens that I thought might be trying to tell me to move back to New York because that’s where my personal legend is lurking.

It was an incredible book, the sort of story that makes you believe in miracles and reaffirms your faith in God and humanity. Since we’ve moved to Philly, I’ve definitely needed my faith in humanity restored. It’s a tough town.

Anyway, the problem is, the ADHD brain will make everything an omen. During the course of hours upon hours of research for the Pumpkin, I read once that ADHD kids, when exposed to heroic stories or fantastic tales, will look for a way to make them real. Therefore, when I read this book about a fantastic journey, it really made me consider that perhaps I wasn’t being as open to my own fantastic journey as I should be. So when I proposed a choice to myself for lunch soon thereafter, regarding The Corner Bakery or the NY Halal Meat Cart, and the traffic light went green for Halal, and four cars from New York passed while I was waiting for my lunch, of course my brain says, OK we’re moving back to New York!

If it was just Frank and I, we probably would go back. Heck, we probably wouldn’t have moved down in the first place. Perhaps if we had rented and not bought a house we would also return, having less paperwork to deal with. But, I have to remind myself about our house and our journey here.

I was a toddler the first time I lived in Philadelphia with my family. It was brief and my only recollection has been through dreams. I only know this because the apartment complex where my parents lived has a website and the buildings match. I returned in 1997 for a Sister’s of Mercy concert at the Electric Factory. We arrived early and when we walked around to find something to eat, there was only a time-forgotten, very grim Chinese restaurant available. I wasn’t remotely impressed.

However, when we came to see an 18th Century house for sale, in person in November 2006, I saw a Philly I had no idea existed. On the way to our house (not 18th Century but close enough), before it became our house, we stopped in a coffee shop that is owned by someone originally from Park Slope, Brooklyn. Our house turned out to meet just about all our requirements and eventually we’ve made a place for ourselves here. Even very small Federal row homes in our budget remain very elusive so perhaps it has been meant to be after all. And the convenience of working and living within a very small radius is well appreciated, not to mention the hospitals that we frequent more often than most.

I do find myself wondering what my personal legend should be. I wonder if I’m supposed to be following a greater calling. But I also don’t want to spend so much time and energy on the what-if, that I miss the pretty darn decent journey I’m already on.

While my brain figures all this out, I’ve started to follow Paulo Coelho on Facebook. Just about every day, an uplifting message of hope, or words of strength and perseverance, come through the feed and that’s always good for any journey.


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