Jun 17, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

A few blogs and a couple of months back I wrote about my discovery of the Camino de Santiago and my desire to go there. While it didn't work out that I was there in May, I still plan to go. When the time is right, I know I'll find myself there.

In the meantime I am still learning and reading about the journeys others have made.

While his reasons for walking the Camino are perhaps very different than what mine are and many others I've read, Paulo Coelho's "The Pilgrimage" has proven a very fascinating read. It's the story of his own personal journey on the trail.

I'm almost done, I've been going slow, taking it with me to the gym and whenever I'm on the bike I read a little bit. I should probably take something a little lighter with me, I feel like every so often my jaw drops or my eyes fill up with tears.

If you're a fan of "The Alchemist" you should read "The Pilgrimage". You'll see exactly why he wrote it and how much of it came from his personal experiences on the road. I had no idea.

Anyway, back on page 56 started a few pages that I can't get out of my head and I've been meaning to copy & share them.
In a nutshell, this is what his guide on the road is telling him at this particular part of the walk...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body. Many times in our lives we see our dreams shattered and our desires frustrated, but we have to continue dreaming. If we don't, our soul dies and agape cannot reach it. A lot of blood has been shed in those fields out there; some of the cruelest battles of Spain's war to expel the moors were fought on them. Who was in the right or who knew the truth does not matter; what's important is knowing that both sides were fighting the good fight.

The good fight is the one we fight because our heart asks it of us. In the heroic ages-at the time of the knights in armor-this was easy. There were lands to conquer and much to do. Today, though, the world has changed a lot, and the good fight has shifted from the battlefields to the fields within ourselves.

The good fight is the one that's fought in the name of our dreams. When we're young and our dreams first explode inside us with all of their force, we are very courageous, but we haven't yet learned how to fight. With great effort, we learn how to fight, but by then we no longer have the courage to go into combat. So we turn against ourselves and do battle within. We become our own worst enemy. We say that our dreams were childish, or too difficult to realize, or the result of our not having known enough about life. We kill our dreams because we are afraid to fight the good fight."

The first symptom of the profess of killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the good fight.

The second symptom of the death of our dreams lies in our certainties. Because we don't want to see life as a grand adventure, we begin to think of ourselves as wise and fair and correct in asking so little of life. We look beyond the walls of our day-to-day existence, and we hear the sound of lances breaking, we smell the dust and the sweat, and we see the great defeats and the fire in the eyes of the warriors. But we never see the delight, the immense delight in the hearts of those who are engaged in the battle. For them, neither victory or defeat is important; what's important is only that they are fighting the good fight.

And, finally, the third symptom of the passing of our dreams is peace. Life becomes a Sunday afternoon; we ask for nothing grand, and we cease to demand anything more than we are willing to give. In that state, we think of ourselves as being mature; we put aside the fantasies of our youth, and we seek personal and professional achievement. We are surprised when people our age say that they still want this or that out of life. But really, deep in our hearts, we know that what has happened is that we have renounced the battle for our dreams-we have refused to fight the good fight.

When we renounce our dreams and find peace, we go through a short period of tranquility. But the dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel against ourselves. That's when illness and psychoses arise. What we are sought to avoid in combat-disappointment and defeat-came upon us because of our cowardice. And one day, the dead, spoiled dreams make it difficult to breathe, and we actually seek death. It's death that frees us from our certainties, from our work, and from that terrible peace of our Sunday afternoons.

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