Lately I have been re-reading some of my all time favorite books. Ok, re-listening to them, as I must admit that I am an avid audiobook listener. I look forward to my morning walks for this purpose. I can’t wait to lace up my sneakers, fill my pockets with kindness rocks throw on my cold weather walking gear and hit the beach. There is something deeply restorative surrounding my morning routine. It could be the solitude, the fresh salt air or the inspiration I find in the books I listen to. I believe it’s the alchemy of all three.
What is alchemy you may ask? Well ironically it's the title of my all time favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I highly recommend reading it, or in my case, listening to it. It's a story of a young shepherd boy in search of his personal legend, finding his purpose in life and fulfilling his dream. Isn’t that the journey we are all on? It’s beautifully written, full of insight and interesting characters, and if you download the audio version, it is read by Jeremy Irons, BONUS!
The dictionary.com definition of alchemy is “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance,usually of little value, into a substance of great value.”
In my life, alchemy is found within the little synchronicities that occur each day leaving me with great insight towards the direction I should move in. Beautifully summed up by Jen Sincero in her book You are a Badass, “Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous”. I love that quote.
Such synchronicities, coincidences or God winks are like breadcrumbs along life’s path. These breadcrumbs always lead me back to where I need to be. Unless a wild animal, aka a negative person or situation in my life, gets there first and eats them, thus leaving me lost in the woods, unsure of myself, and without a sense of direction. That sometimes happens. Let me rephrase that, sometimes I allow that to happen to me.
These were the times I was truly disconnected to my self, to others and to the life that I was meant to live. Trust me, Disconnection is a frustrating and lonely place. Maybe you too are familiar with it.
Lao Tzu wrote,
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
The alchemy of it all is that connection leads to peace. To be connected we must start by remaining present. I begin each day, by connecting with positive messages found in inspiring books. Next, I connect with myself by turning off that audiobook when I reach the beach and I begin to walk mindfully. Meaning, keeping my thoughts clear. When I begin to think about past events, I return my focus to my breath which brings me back to the present moment, clear from thought. This process is much like meditation, but with my eyes open while walking. Meditation is typically done in a seated position with your eyes closed. However, mediation can take many forms, and this is how I incorporate it in my day.
More often than not, I find my thoughts focussed on my todo list.. Lao Tzu would call this being in a state of anxiety. I would agree 100%. Lao Tzu really knew his stuff.
So once again, I let those thoughts dissipate like the waves. In that still moment, I am flooded with great insight. This is not the place or time to use my breadcrumb analogy, as the beach is full of seagulls waiting for that random piece of bread to appear so they can dive bomb me, pick it up, poop on my head and fly away. Oh the irony in it all.
So if I did use that analogy, and that actually happened, would I allow that to ruin my day? Would I stand in the middle of the beach, angry and annoyed unable to continue, or would I laugh out loud and carry on? It would seem ridiculous for me to allow an angry bird to ruin my walk...day….life...wouldn’t it?
Today, I use that image of a seagull every time I come across an angry or aggressive person in my life. And, trust me, there’s a lot of seagulls where I live. I now choose rocks as my trail of breadcrumbs and I leave some along the way for others to follow. Seagulls aren’t attracted to kindness rocks so I think I have found a solution for all of us.
So If you happen to find one of my rocks, either on the beaches of Cape Cod or on social media. Let that rock be a reminder for you to remain present. If you relate with the message, may it become a positive catalyst for that deeper personal connection you may be seeking. My hope is that each and every time you come across one it will remind you that you too have a personal legend to fulfill.