“Maybe God created the desert so that man could appreciate the date trees, he thought.”
– The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Having Readwise means I feel I am continually dipping into my absolute favourite parts and quotes of many of my top books of all time, one such being The Alchemist.
Today’s short quote popped up and forced me to take a hard look at my response to yesterday’s competition.
This quote was pretty much the perfect quote for dealing with life’s disappointments and creating your own happiness!
What’s your ‘desert’?
I can tell you mine. It was one of the troughs of my day – my competition result.
Yikes. Not a bad start. Not a great start, either.
My first competiton of the 2020 indoor athletics (track & field) season took place yesterday at the Indoor Meeting, Karlsruhe, part of the Athletics World Indoor Tour.
I was expectant, but hesitant. Training has been up and down. But I was still hopeful.
Yet, the result left me feeling a little dejected – like I had been chasing after an elusive number that didn’t come. And all my efforts to go better after that 2nd round jump came up short.
That’s why it was my desert – the whole experience felt a little…fruitless, empty..
But did it really?
The Date Trees
There are many good life metaphors in The Alchemist; that’s why you’ll find so many blogs with a short, inspirational quote about love, life, success, happiness, friendship, whatever it may be with direct quotes from the book.
To me, the date tree actually appeared in (as opposed to on the edge of or completely outside of) the desert. It’s not always the case, but I am proactively seeking to be a little more keen to see the fruit (date trees) in the desert these days.
Call it an attitude of gratitude. Or call it trying to keep things in perspective. Whatever name you give it, the end result is a happier(ish), calmer and less disappointed (hmmm….at least after a good night’s sleep) Abs. You probably wouldn’t have noticed this so much if you had interacted with me yesterday, but I’m in a better mood today. Ha.
So, here’s what I enjoyed about yesterday – my ‘date trees’:
- Catching up briefly with Eloyse (a fellow jumper)
- The learning experience – the cobwebs have been dusted off; I’m figuring out a few things you can often only glean during the pressures, excitement and adrenaline of competition, and I have some key actions to work on over the next couple of weeks ahead of my next meet. Problems really can be opportunities in disguise, y’all!
- I came away with no extra niggles or injuries. Hurrah! (This will ALWAYS be worth honourable mention and celebration after my lengthy injury history…2015…2016…!)
Stop at the first syllable
Finally, here’s another related short quote about life and happiness.
“He tried to say ‘Humbug!’ but stopped at the first syllable.”
– A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
For context, the protagonist, Scrooge has finally discovered the error of his ways – that his miserable, petty, humbug attitude will put him in an early grave, he will not be going to heaven and worst of all to him, everybody will be happy to see the back of him.
So, he wakes up from his nightmare on Christmas Day and steps into his new life.
But this is a good quote to remind us that as much as we can expect instant transformation once we’ve made a life-changing decision, there are residues of the past within us, and we have to therefore act with strong determination and conviction to ‘stop at the first syllable’.
Find yourself about to complain, as usual?
Stop at the first syllable!
Find yourself about to mouth off due to your usual hot-headed, short-tempered nature?
Stop at the first syllable!
Find yourself about to get down in the dumps, super self-critical and self-deprecating because of a disappointing result, Abs?
Stop at the first syllable! (Hmmm, okay. Maybe I needed to have read this last night rather than this morning!)
So, here’s to me taking my own advice!
Challenge: If you’re super self-critical like me, cut yourself some slack today. Don’t get down on yourself about every poor performance. Look for the ‘date trees’ in the ‘desert’. There’s always at least one good thing you can find to be thankful for. What was your ‘desert’ and ‘date tree’ today? Share in the comments or drop me a message!
Have a fruitful day!
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