Imagine you are in a foreign country alone. You don't know a soul and you don't speak the language.
You have important business there, and you are lost. A stranger who speaks your language approaches you and offers to help you get to where you need to go.
You think, what luck that this helpful person was put in my path! You are asked if you have money to travel, to which you say yes and when you pull it out to count, the stranger quickly takes it from you smiling and tells you to walk with them to find transportation.
As you follow along the busy city, you are, on every side, distracted by the many unusual sights and when you look again for your guide, you realize that you are alone. And now you are alone and penniless.
How does this situation make you feel? What are your thoughts? Emotions?
I am nearly finished with my second reading of the wonderful book The Alchemist . This time around, something I hadn't noticed before jumped off the page.
In the book, there is a situation very much like the one I just described to you. The main character has left everything he knew behind in search of a treasure. He had all of his money stolen from him and did not know what to do next.
He thinks for a moment and is saddened by what has happened. But then this:
"He realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief, and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure."
Without much hesitation he decides; "I am an adventurer looking for treasure; he said to himself."
This shift in thinking is like a magic trick.
The event is the same. His money was stolen. He doesn't know what to do next. But, in an instant, he goes from being a sad victim, into being a person on a grand quest and this is just one of the perils he meets on his epic journey.
I keep thinking about how I can apply this in my own life. There is one thing in particular that has been a trial and a heart break for me, but when I think about it, there are at least half a dozen ways I can reframe it into something positive.
It is now my goal to do this in every situation in life.
Because on some level, I think we all know that things truly do work together for our good if we let them.
A while ago, I was in a rare coin shop looking for treasure of my own when I saw an ancient Roman coin featuring the portrait of Marcus Aurelius. This piqued my interest because I love the movie The Gladiator, and also because I knew he was a Roman emperor. I bought the coin, and went home to research it.
This is the best part about working with coins.
I read about his accomplishments as a ruler, learned some things about how government worked in his time, and learned of his conquests in the military, but the coolest thing I learned was that he was a noted philosopher who practiced what is known as Stoicism.
This philosophy asserts, among many things, that we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.
"Our life is what our thoughts make it." -Marcus Aurelius
This is exactly the same idea as in The Alchemist. We can't control what happens to us, only our response to it.
In so many ways, and so many areas, my life is trying to teach me this lesson.
I'm going to try and learn.
I'm going to try and live it.