Recently I read the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I found it to be a fairly short but very thought provoking read that is already on my list of books to re-read for those curious about what I read. Within the story there is a parable told about a boy visiting a wise man and asking him about happiness. The wise man gives the boy a task of watching out for oil on a spoon, but invites him to explore his surroundings. When the boy returns he has failed to truly experience his surroundings. He is given the chance again and this time forgets to keep watch of the spoon. With the point being explained that “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”
One of the big themes in my life for the past few years has been about finding balance. People who know me or have read multiple posts on this blog would recognize, I’m a big fan of spectrums. Many people would view the story as either seeing the marvels of the world or focusing on the drops of oil. Where I suppose my view would be somewhere in the middle. The allure of marvels is great for having dreams and desires and plans for the future. It can also be a way of truly experiencing the world in which we live already but finding joy in the little things. The practicality of the drops of oil can be expressed as Stephen Covey would say “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” While truly learning to explore and experience the world is great if it is constantly distracting us from our purpose, destiny, vocare, or whatever would you would like to use, then sometimes it is better to be focused on the oil. Yet there are times when we are able to combine our work into a marvel of the world, like turning the oil into a master painting.
While my life might not quite seem to be “marvel of the world” quality at times, I know that if I stay focused on the things that matter, the people who matter, and embrace the path that has been provided for me, that I’m creating a unique one of a kind life. I probably won’t ever paint a masterpiece or write a famous song, and probably won’t even publish a great work of writing, but my life and those surrounding me are masterpieces in their own way.
The lesson that I’m trying to work on, is finding the medium and the language of understanding that allows me to truly cherish and focus on that which is important, while also embracing the beauty of the world.