The Journey for our “Personal Legend”
“There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth…. To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. And, when you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” (Coelho 24).
These wise words from the King of Salem to the shepherd boy in The Alchemist make finding and realizing our personal legends sound like an exciting adventure in discovering who we truly are. And truly, the journey to discover our personal legends is all those things and is a fulfilling way to live. However, in spite of the many beautiful moments in the journey to realize my personal legend, I’m currently in a messy/lost/weak part and I’m wondering where the universe is and its promise to help me. Currently, the whole ordeal doesn’t feel nearly as adventurous or fulfilling as it initially sounded.
Don’t get me wrong, earlier this year my husband and I decided to finally take the summer vacation of our dreams and travel to Nepal to help rebuild a school destroyed by the 2015 earthquakes. It was my first time outside the United States and, while I did have to get used to squatting toilets, the experience filled my heart in a way I didn’t realize was missing before. Upon arrival back in the US, without jobs or a home of our own, we decided to pack five boxes of essential items in the back of our car and took off on a cross-country trip to figure out where we should go next. The first few weeks of the journey were exciting and adventurous as we visited 16 new states and met with friends and family along the way. When we told people we were traveling across the country to “find ourselves” it sounded cool and special. After a nearly three-month journey (and oh the stories I could tell about that), I finally found a position working as an AmeriCorps volunteer with a refugee resettlement organization in the D.C. area. It was the perfect fit! I wasn’t concerned that the pay was next to nothing and that I was jumping into something way outside my comfort zone because when the opportunity came my heart knew that it was right. It was meant to be a part of the journey to realize my personal legend. Things just seemed to fall into place…until they didn’t.
Which brings me to today. It’s been four months since I started work and I feel like I’m still struggling to find out where I fit at my job and my husband is still looking for work in the area. Although I know that I’m exactly where I need to be right now, I wake up almost every morning and look at our bare apartment (remember, we only brought 5 boxes with us) wondering what in the world I’m doing here. Why did I think this was a good idea? Why did I do this to myself?
I have had many days when I wanted to turn back, when the search for my personal legend felt too hard and the sacrifices too pricey. Days when I wept and wept for the struggle and thought of how much easier life would be if I had just accepted a good paying job back in Utah or Oregon and lived a perfectly comfortable life. I had doubts, oh how I still have doubts. But, when those doubts overwhelm me to the point of wanting to give up and retreat, those are the moments when I listen to my heart and mind screaming out to keep at the hard road a little longer. Sometimes our personal legend requires us to do hard things that everyone else considers crazy. If realizing our personal legend were easy everyone would be doing it, right?
In those moments when things are hard and I struggle to keep going I have to look at my story with compassion and understanding of what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m not doing these things to make for a good story to tell others, but rather I’m trying to make my story good for me. Ultimately, the most important person that we ever tell our story to is our self.
I think this is what the King of Salem means when he says that, “when you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it” (24). The outside elements don’t always easily fall into place, people don’t always understand the decisions we make, and some days things are just overwhelming. But the universe isn’t somewhere out there. The universe is made up of the voice in each of our hearts and minds that tells us to follow our dreams and realize our personal legend. Are we listening?
Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. Trans. Alan R. Clarke. New York
To contact Erin: firstname.lastname@example.org