Are You Hiding Your Light?

“Like everybody learns,” he said. “In school.” by Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist

The shepherd boy said this to a girl he was speaking to, who was surprised to find that a shepherd could read. He did it to turn attention away from something different about himself and avoid bringing up something from his past that the girl might find disappointing about him. The boy had been in a seminary at one point, which is where he learned to read, but choose instead to become a shepherd

What I find most interesting about this scene is that the boy does not want to admit that he was going to be a priest. So he just throws himself into the pot with everyone else – “like everybody learns”. Maybe he thought the girl would be disappointed because he was on the path to be SOMEBODY and threw it all away to become a shepherd. Maybe he said that because he didn’t think she would understand or maybe because he wanted to appear normal to her. Whatever the reason, instead of admitting who and what he was, he threw the cloak of normality and ordinary over his shoulders so he could fit in. Thinking back on my life I wonder how many times have I done the same, retreated into what is expected so as not to stand out. There is safety in being in the crowd, security in not appearing different. After all, if we are different we may be, or have been, ridiculed, ostracized and hurt physically and emotionally. So we’ve thought – why change it, right?

The boy left the seminary because the distant fields and roads were calling to him. He did that to follow his dreams. He did it to follow his heart. So by not sharing that piece of who he was with this girl, he is denying a part of his heart to this girl and to the world. He is hiding his light so as to not shine too brightly in her eyes. By not shining brightly for her, he is also not shining brightly for himself. The more each of us dims out light, the darker and darker the world becomes. Most great things that happen in this world are not happening or do not happen when someone is being ordinary. It is when we choose to live within our own light and shine as brightly for ourselves, that things happen, mountains move, seas part and worlds are built.

In love and light



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