I remember a distinct moment from grade school: I looked around the classroom and wonder if anybody else was actually listening to the teacher. My wandering imagination has always fascinated me. I would dream constantly; paying little attention to the boring or mundane. My imagination is like a trusted friend I can always rely on to entertain me. I would learn this was to be my blessed curse; a never ending imagination of possible wonders.
I read somewhere that writing is no more than a guided dream…
This dream starts in grade twelve English with the poem Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson. It was the first time that literature would inspire me to take action. I was mesmerized by this poem and it would soon become a part of my soul. The great urge to travel the world pursuing distant horizons and unknown wonders filled my heart. I made a decision that day to travel Europe for the summer; and it was simply the most enlightening decision I have ever made.
“…I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life!…” Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson
I found part of my true self that summer in Europe. I grew more in character then the previous 18 years of my life. The world was a grand vast place and I needed to contribute my verse. Everything was so fresh and alive; I was seeing the world in a new light. It was sensory-overload and for the first time, my imagination stilled. I didn’t realize it at the time, but somewhere between The Grand Place in Brussels and the snow covered peaks of Switzerland, I took my first step towards a few fleeting moments of enlightenment.
It would take three years for me to return to Europe. I had become a lost soul in University. My live the biggest life you can attitude had me hanging my hat in the pub instead of the classroom. I was having the time of my life, completely unaware that my future was taking a turn for the worst. I had lost all direction; something big was missing in my life. The Scary part was that I had no idea what.
I started my trip in England and managed to make my way down to Greece. Just thinking about Greece as I write gives me chills. That warm ocean breeze and winding seaside roads seemed to naturally heal my unhappiness. I was a free soul again: I was loving life once more.
Sitting on a rock in Corfu enjoying the splendor of the brilliant pink sunset and contemplating my life. I decided to make a list of everything I loved and hated about myself. I looked at the list for a long time – and then I threw it in the Ocean. It was a list of my past-self, and I made peace with it, realizing it had no bearing on my future. Then it struck me hard. This overwhelming and absolute feeling of joy invaded my soul. I wept with tears for joy for the first time in my life. I cried my eyes out and it felt wonderful. I was happy to be who I was; and proud of my place in the world. That cry still remains one of the happiest moments in my life. I was forever a changed man.
Nothing could hold me back from returning to Europe next summer. I needed to sit on my rock and figure out one question. What I want to do with my life? The question was simple. If I could do anything at all, what would make me the happiest? The answer never showed. So I left Greece on a ferry heading to Italy. I was listening to Ben Harper’s song ‘Give a man a home’ and I finally figure it out. I wanted to travel the world and write about it. That would make me the happiest man I could be.
I knew that was the answer I was looking for more then I knew anything else on earth. I traveled up the coast to arrive in Barcelona a few days later; and had my first meeting with fate. I arrived late at night and there wasn’t a bed to be found anywhere. I stored my backpack in a locker at the train station and headed to the beach to crash. I awoke miserable and tired. I searched everywhere for 6 hours to find a place to stay. The hot sun was pouring down and my backpack was digging deeper and deeper into my shoulders. I had no luck at all. I was ready to give up and get back on the train, but I decided to give it one more try. Finally, the hostel Alberg Palau had one bed available; relief. On my bed was a copy of The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho: a story about a sacred journey to Santiago Compostela in Northern Spain to become a new man. That book would become part of my journey as I traveled through the luscious green valleys of Spain to the Cathedral of Saint James. The Cathedral was breathtaking and for the first time I felt immersed in the Soul of the World. I was certain that a higher source of power existed on earth, and I felt comforted by that.
“It is the pleasure of searching and the pleasure of the adventure. You are nourishing something that’s very important-your dreams. We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming. If we don’t, our soul dies…” The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho
I returned home and picked up a copy of Coelho’s famous book The Alchemist. It was an omen that confirmed everything I had learned in my travels. I would begin listening to my heart and following my dreams. I was the Sheppard boy Santiago whose love for traveling had revealed his personal treasure. From that moment on, I dedicated my life to becoming a writer. I had finally found what I was looking for; my destiny.
“When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force.” The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Ulysses is still my favorite poem, and The Alchemist my favorite book by my favorite author. I have yet to return to my rock on the beautiful beach of Corfu, but I know I will make it back there someday. Hopefully with a copy of my bestseller in one hand and my journal in the other.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Hope you enjoyed my insight…. Peace and safe travels…