It was 1996. I had been traveling overseas and working in New York for 6 months and had just turned 22 on the 22 August. I had finished my VCE, completed a Certificate and Diploma of Interior Design & Decoration, worked as a Designer on the new Crown Casino in Melbourne, and spent a year living in the country, 30kms from the nearest shop – without running water and electricity but with a massive vegetable garden and chooks. I had also got my drivers license and had been going out with the same boy for almost seven years. What to do next?
It was time to fly home to Melbourne. I was excited about the prospect of seeing friends and family after so long but I was also apprehensive about the next chapter in my life journey. What did I really want to do with my time?
I was walking through the airport getting ready to board when out of the corner of my eye I saw a book. It had a purple cover with the image of a third eye on it. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I had hardly any money left – but I couldn’t resist. On the flight home from the moment I sat down I was hooked. I read it cover to cover. By the time I touched down in Melbourne I felt I had a renewed trust in my journey. Paulo Coelho through his character – Santiago, who travels in search of worldly treasure had shown me the essential wisdom of listening to my heart, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following my dreams.
I have all of his books to date. I have enjoyed every one but none has so transformed my path as The Alchemist.
My Mother gave me the illustrated version shown above for my 25th Birthday. When the boy that I had been going out with for seven years left I gave him my copy and bid him farewell.