We are all on a journey, right? Young or old(er), we are finding our way in life through our routine, everyday experiences, from our traumatic terrible lows to our life-changing, exhilarating highs. Lately, I’ve felt the need to read more about people’s journeys, whether it be memoirs, biographies or spiritual reflections on life, here and “there”.
Many of you have probably read The Alchemist. Required reading in high school or college, or a friend said to you, “hey, you’ve got to read this book - it’s life changing”. It’s the story of a shepherd, a simple man, who goes off in search of buried treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. (Something we all think about doing, right?) Well, in a way, we do journey in search of those treasures, we just might not encounter a gypsy, a king, and an alchemist along the way. Santiago does. He doesn’t falter in his desire to find the treasure. Along the way, he discovers so much more than he set out to find. Obviously, I won’t spoil the ending for you if you haven’t read it yet, but here’s the wonderful thing about this book, it opens up your mind, your world, to thinking bigger, thinking more open, to larger than life understandings about what our journey is all about.
And then there’s Jalamanta. This was a great find. Okay, I know, another desert story. It has been ridiculously hot this summer, so reading about the desert seemed perfectly appropriate. This man’s story differs from Santiago’s because Amado (his earlier name) has been banished to the desert for thirty years because of his religious views and opinions and he is not in search of a physical treasure, but rather enlightenment. Spoiler alert: he finds it. (You learn that early on in the book, so it’s not really a spoiler.)
During his 30 year exile, he has to learn to “trust the power within ourselves”. He discovers, “our purpose in life is to arrive at new levels of awareness and clarity, and the clarity that we create in the soul becomes part of the consciousness of the universe.” Jalamanta chooses to follow the “Path of the Sun” to obtain that clarity. It’s a nature-filled book, how we relate to the Universe and the plants and animals in it, and it’s a peaceful existence that Jalamanta pursues.
I don’t know about you, but these days, with all the unrest in the country and beyond, I find myself seeking simplicity, soulful thinking and stories that calm me, rather than ones that get me angry and fuel the growing fire of bitterness and negativity. Reading a book that is well written always takes my mind to the places that the author describes, and in these two cases, I was taken along a path of hope and peace and goodwill. I enjoyed those journeys - both the shepherd’s and the man called Jalamanta, “one who strips away the veils that blind the soul”.
If you’re seeking some soulful introspection, or just want to pick up a book that has real substance about life’s purpose and how to obtain some real peace in your life, either of these books offer a means to that end.
Staff of Wellington Square Book Shop