So I dragged myself to the New Orleans Food Coop potluck/meeting on Monday night. I wasn't all that enthused by the mission as narrowly stated: "Healthy, affordable groceries for everyone!!" I took the flyer off my doorstep, and with a pen hastily crossed off the word groceries and substituted FOOD.
“Continue in the direction of the Pyramids”, said the alchemist. “And continue to pay heed to the omens. Your heart is still capable of showing you where the treasure is.” - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Regardless, I knew I'd go, if only to have the privilege of complaining and critiqueing with first-hand knowledge ;) After weeks in New Orleans, I'd seriously begun to wonder if I'd made a huge, big mistake coming here. Was this city at the cusp of a Renaissance? Was it really the place drawing the vanguards of the blank canvas?
“This world is but a canvas to our imaginations.” - Henry David Thoreau
And did my vision mesh with said city? The answer was starting to seem like No. After BarCampNola, it was upgraded to Perhaps maybe.
Little did I know that meeting would be a pivot point, whereupon I meet another kindred spirit that recites (and lives) the stone soup story too, talks of the omens and signs that led him to New Orleans, and about participatory engagement ("Be the change you wish to see in the world"). And just when I was about to give up...
“No”, the alchemist answered. “What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’
To me, this doesn't contradict "Can we become the sign we so desperately seek?" as long as I'm following my inclinations moment to moment (they feel like the very next dance step), rather than waiting for a signal, or to verification that there's light at the end of the tunnel, as sometimes one does waltz forward in the seeming dark first.
p.s. I swear everyone's bookshelf in New Orleans, particularly among the transplants, seems to have the book, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, prominently displayed. More quotes from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream:
"Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own."
"No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it."
"It's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them."