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The Alchemist and some FIFO analogies.

In a conversation with a colleague some weeks ago, she recommended that I read a book that she reads every year…just to remind her of some home truths and align her for the next 12 months.

Now I didn’t take too much notice of this. She fancies herself as a bit of a care free gypsy like person but it’s a pretty thin veil. Anyway, she gave me this book and I thought I’d give it a go. 170 pages, big text…sounded like little effort and the intrigue got me.

Now the book in question is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and was written in 1987 over the course of 2 weeks. It has sold more than 65 million copies and holds the world record for the most translated book by a living author. Yet I’d never heard of it.

The Alchemist is the most absorbing book I have read for a long time. Since chatting about it have realised that a lot of people have read it (over 65 million apparently) and I’ve have entered into some really interesting discussions here on site about it.

So the colleague who recommended it emailed and asked:

“Do you think this project is our crystal shop and we’re are all going to make a move with the money we made, will do what we said or just do as the crystal shop owner and not go to Mekka?”

That’s a really good analogy and got me thinking about what others I could draw from this book and relate to “this project”.

So, to channel Jules Winnfield in his chat with Ringo about the righteous man, the evil man and the shepherd , here are some meanings and analogies of my own…to try and answer the “What do you think this project is…?” part.

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I think for some this project is the crystal shop and they are the boy….stumbling across it, staying here longer than expected and leaving with plans and dreams which don’t necessarily align. Saying goodbye is hard but leaving is easy and they are excited to see what he next chapter holds.

For some it is the crystal shop but they are the old man…been here too long and scared to face the real world; and the land of their dreams. Change for them is scary and leaving is a choice they will be forced to make.

For some, this project is the shepherd’s sheep…they feel safe with their their flock and only take on the lessons of simple animals and relate these back to life’s great journeys.

For some, they are like the shepherd boy arriving in the African market plaza…rich in activity, get swept up in the culture and new / exciting things but they trust the wrong people and get left with nothing.

For some this project is like the wise King and they are the shepherd boy…lessons are imparted to them but is not until long after they part company that these lessons can be learned or even acknowledged. When they look around in years to come through distant memory, there will be the familiarity of this project in the faces that surround them.

For some this project will be like the Merchant’s daughter…captivating after one brief encounter and will hold intrigue for a long time to come. But only when other opportunities are put in front of them they will they realise that seeking this fickle maiden is not the only hope for happiness.

For some, it is the caravaner’s tent where they meet a strange yet friendly Englishman….

This project could be the desert sands between Tarifa and the Oasis. Full of excitement and intrigue at the start of the journey but as the days go by, the excitement fades, the nights become longer and the campfire conversations extinguish.

The deep hole the shepherd boy dug near the pyramids could represent the project to some people….they believe destiny lead them here to find their fortune but no matter how much they dig; it will not be found.

But maybe for some it is the Alchemist’s pan…creating wealth that can be split amongst those you care about; even putting a quarter aside for those times when you will be desperate for it.

I hope this project for some will be like the Oasis to the shepherd boy. An alluring melting pot of activity in the most unlikely place. A place where true love is waiting by a well every afternoon.

Or conversely, this project could be the desert beyond the Oasis…as it consumers husbands that are waved off by their wives who remain in the bustling melting pots of activity waiting for their men to return to them.

Maybe for some, this project will be like the Alchemist to the shepherd boy; a mysterious enigma that guides them to a destiny that deep down they knew was theirs.

But…I think for me this project will be like the drinking peppermint tea at the top of the hill.

It’s an opportunity that many people don’t know exists. Some have heard and do not know how to seek it. Some decide to start the trek and for various reasons, do not make it to the top to enjoy the tea.

For those who make it through the door of the shop, it’s a win in itself and for others, just another steep walk. But the prize in the end is the same…the tea.

Some may drink it fast, not savouring the flavour and leave the shop in search of better tea.

Some may sip it slowly until it cools, finish their tea and be satisfied that their effort was worth it.

Some may take a sip of the tea, not like the bitter taste and ask the Crystal Merchant if there is another flavour tea..or leave the shop disappointed that the tea was not worth the effort.

Me…I’d savour the walk to the top of the hill, a trek few people get to do. I’d order my tea and while I wait, would browse around the crystal shop, admiring the wonderful sites and beautiful works of art the Crystal Merchant has on display.

I’d sip my tea…it would be hot at first but as it cools I’d take bigger sips and enjoy its unique flavour while it lasts.

I’d take my last sip before the tea went cold, thank the merchant for his hospitality and delightful beverage and slowly wonder back down the hill to the crowded plaza. I’d enjoy reflecting on the short journey, knowing that I’ll never again get to enjoy the experience of my first peppermint tea, in the crystal shop at the top of the hill.

I’d then start to look for another hill to climb with its own unique prize at the top.

Pyramid 2 (3)Well I’m not too sure if that made a whole lot of sense but hopefully if you have read The Alchemist it might. And although I have related it to “this project” I guess you could span the scope of meaning to the FIFO in general or even most forms of working away.

It’s certainly a choice to work in the industries that we do and as I’ve said so many times, we’re all in it for different reasons and reflection on the journey will yield many and varied analogies I’m sure.

To close out, I’ll leave you with a parting thought from the Alchemist himself….’It’s not often that money saves a person’s life”.

So, until the next instalment; keep safe and stay connected!!

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