Sultana Fatima Ali read "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho, as part of the final day of 67 Books on the rooftop over the entryway to Orlando Public Library. I was to read later that day, so I decided I would stop and listen and sketch. Behind Sultana, beautiful colored banners fluttered in the breeze. The story immediately entranced me, holding me in its grip. It followed the story of a young shepherd boy named Santiago, who was on a journey to fulfill his personal legend. It is easy to identify with this young shepherd as he seeks to find his treasure in the pyramids of Egypt. This book has been translated into 67 languages and sold over 65 million copies. Most of these sales were all from word of mouth. The book is even available free online.
The author discussed how he had to overcome many obstacles. From childhood, he was given the idea that fulfilling his destiny is impossible. Growing up, everyone enforced this idea. The second obstacle is love, the fear of giving up everything to pursue this distant dream. Another obstacle is fear of defeat. Yet defeats will come and must be faced. When these defeats are overcome, and they always are, then life can be faced with confidence and euphoria. According to Paulo, "The secret to life, is to fall seven times and get up eight times."
I was disappointed when Sultana had to stop reading. Santiago had not found his personal legend yet, he had just started down that road. This is a book I will be picking up soon to read for myself.
After the reading was over I got a message on my cell phone. It was from my sister Carol, and read, "She passed. I'll call u when i get there and know more." This news caused my stomach to tighten and contract. She was talking about my stepmother, Ruth Krause, who I had just visited in Honesdale Pennsylvania a month before. I stood on the sidewalk stunned. Not knowing what to do, or how to act, I walked to the History Center and started sketching the high school children who were doing chalk drawings all around the public square. I pushed all thoughts of a funeral out of my mind and concentrated on the sketch at hand.