Bear with me.
The suffix “-ist” means “someone who does something.” Years of teaching English and drilling Greek and Latin roots and affixes into young minds can leave one with a bit of a disorder, one that involves the separation and impending divorces of words and the diagramming of all spoken sentences.
Sexy? Not so much. Nerdy? Abso–bloomin-lutely! (Name that musical! My Fair Lady, kids. Collective sigh for Audrey Hepburn.) I digress.
While gettin’ my book on recently, I couldn’t stop myself from noodling at the title The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.
The word “alchemy,” as described by Noah Webster (the fella you can blame and cuss out for a general lack of English language and spelling rules and procedures–Thanks, buddy)’s peeps, is the “power or process of transforming something common into something special.”
Add the “-ist” and you get SOMEONE possessing the power–or even just going through the process of (insert humble opinion)–to transform something common into something special.
The Alchemist tells the story of a shepherd boy in search of his “Personal Legend” or calling, his purpose in life. The allegory appears to be a simple tale, but Coelho weaves together so many human truths, you’ll be wondering if he’s the first person to ever really “get you.”
On Personal Legend from the book:
The boy didn’t know what a person’s “Personal Legend” was.
“It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.
“At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.”
In short, we lose our shortness, grow up, and forget about dreaming. We don’t want to search for a buried treasure, but instead settle for being the old dog unwilling to score a few new tricks. We believe a lie telling us that to pursue a calling or goal is selfish; we’re neglecting important people in our lives who need us.
Pablo Picasso got it right, saying, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” No, we weren’t all meant to paint pretty pictures, but we were all created with the ability to live life artfully, pursuing our personal mission, legend, calling, chocolate, whathaveyou.
While hanging with my book club last week, I realized that when I neglect to nurture that calling, I take my frustration out on the ones I love the most (sorry, hubs). The groan of the human condition overtakes, and I can become envious of someone else realizing their own dreams. I can become a nasty, ugly poohead, yo.
The point is this: we need to remember the call and pursue it (within reason and without shirking current relationships and responsibilities). We were created for purpose and are still being called to it. We (I) need to snap out of it and listen already.