It's gotta be close to ten years ago that a friend gave me a copy of the best book I have ever read - THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho. I held on to it for a while, never really sitting down to read it (which is ridiculous since I've always been addicted to the written word, especially books). When I finally cracked it open, I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I devoured it. Maybe I waited until I was in the right mental place to read it - I don't know. To this day, I still consider it the best book I have ever read. My copy is long gone - loaned to someone who loved it and loaned it to someone else, and so on and so on.
It's a short read - an allegorical tale about finding your personal legend and the way we are changed along the journey. The book was originally written in Portuguese, and the English translation is beautiful. It's been translated into languages worldwide. A few years back, I was traveling in the French countryside and my friend took me to this tiny restaurant perched on the side of a hill in, I believe, Angouleme, though it could well have been Saintes - my memory is fuzzy on the specifics. The restaurant, L'Alchemist, was tiny - only a few tables. The chef/owner had read The Alchemist (or L'Alchemist in French), and been inspired to leave a job he hated to chase his dream - opening his own restaurant. It was always packed in those days (I hope it still is), and it remains the best meal I have ever eaten.
I think of them often - the book and the restaurant - and I wonder if I'm doing well at chasing my personal legend. If I've even truly discovered my personal legend - that one thing that I was born to do. Sometimes I experience that feeling of "rightness" when performing. Other times, it's when teaching. Always, it's when I'm experiencing a new part of the world - some place that I've never been. I get that feeling of wonder, and absolute contentment in the moment - the discovery and the adventure of it all.
Those are the moments I remember - the glimpses of my journey. Those spectacularly beautiful places - so different from my day to day - when I feel absolute wonderment at the joy of being alive and in this time and place.
I'm still searching for my personal legend - wonder what I'll find?