“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” – Paulo Coelho
Sometimes it’s the tiniest of memories that stay with us.
As a six-year-old, I remember having a disagreement with my mom about something very important to me. Not being permitted to eat a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie before dinner, I became so distraught that I left the kitchen, went upstairs and packed a small bag with GI Joes and a baseball glove.
After walking back down the steps, I breezed into the kitchen, stood there for a moment as she continued preparing dinner, and loudly announced that I was running away. I turned and stormed out of the house. Never to return.
Until ten minutes later.
You see, mom came outside after a few minutes and found me sitting on the back deck. She walked over, pulled a chair close to mine, put her arm around me, brushed back my bangs and asked, “Are you still going to run away?”
Still committed, I replied, “Yes. I am still running away.” After a pause, I added, “I’m trying to figure out where ‘away’ is.”
As a child, the home was so integral in my life I couldn’t think of a place to run away to besides my back patio.
And yet, I think that longing to run away from something – that desire to move somewhere else, that craving to become someone else – is one we’ve all experienced. It’s often why we head to a new city, get out of an old relationship, switch schools or jobs or hair colors.
But as we grow, many of us come to see we are looking less for a place and more for clarity on who we actually are.
In my early 20s, a friend gave me a copy of the classic tale by Paulo Coelho titled, The Alchemist. It shares the story of a young, ordinary boy searching for a bigger, better life. It chronicles the home he leaves, the journey he takes, the individuals who come into his life, the tests he endures, the growth he experiences and the priceless treasure he discovers.
(I was reminded of this truth during my most recent Live Inspired podcast episode with guest Lolly Daskal. It was in leaving her home, family, and community that she was finally free to discover who she really was. It’s a fascinating conversation. Listen here.)
I’m quite certain the young boy in The Alchemist is right. Life’s great treasure won’t be found in the view from the top, a status achieved or money obtained. The greatest discovery will be found in embracing the precious gift that is our life. The wisest journey is one that forges within us characteristics that strengthen and endure, faith that sustains, eyes that see and love that ignites.
“When we grow in love, we always strive to become even better than we are. And when we strive to become better than we are, eventually everything around us becomes better, too.”
That’s a journey not to run away from, but to boldly venture toward.
My friend, this is your day. Live Inspired.