The Alchemist

Do you believe in coincidences?

How many synchronicities add up to an affirmation, omen or wink from the universe?

A few months before I embarked on this trip, I had at least 4 different loved ones recommend “The Alchemist” to me, on several separate occasions. I kept putting off reading it, but committed to finishing it by the time my train arrived at its final stop. -I figured I’d have plenty of time on my 11 day train adventure.

On the ride from Chicago to Denver, the outlet at my seat wasn’t working. One of the conductors suggested I go to the sightseers lounge and charge up there. I grabbed my laptop and The Alchemist, and went to find a cozy booth to continue writing my book.

While writing, a young lady passed by and said ” That’s a great book!”

I replied “isn’t it!”

I hadn’t read far enough into it to give my own review, but I trusted the testimonies of my loved ones, who had spoken so highly of it.

She kept walking. I took off the left side of my headphones, to appear more approachable, just in case she had more to say.

She passed by again, but I missed the chance to speak.

Then once more, she passed.

I smiled-through my mask- hoping my eyes translated the sentiment.

I asked “have you read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn?” ( my favourite book)

She hadn’t, but sat down for me to give her a brief synopsis, while she ate her dinner.

We talked about books and writing. I learned that she was an engineer who aspired to write. I gave her my 2 cents on the matter aiming to encourage her to pursue it. Deeper into the conversation, she asked me to read her a sample of my book. Surprised and humbled, I turned my laptop to face her and let her explore for herself.

I’d like to believe that by the end of our conversation she felt a little more impetus to pursue writing.

I certainly had more confidence after her generous review of my first 2 chapters.

Fast forward 2 days later, I arrived in Reno.

While waiting for my cousin to collect me, I unloaded my all of my life’s possessions( my suitcase, my backpack library, and my guitar) onto a chair at the Station, along with The Alchemist.

I kept looking over to see a gentleman smiling at me. Eventually, he pointed at my guitar and asked if I played. We began talking. Not long into our conversation, I noticed a language disconnect. When I asked where he was from, I was relieved when he replied “Mexico”. I switched over to spanish and we had a life changing Spanglish conversation.

At some point during our conversation, he excused himself, went to his backpack, and pulled out a beautiful hand carved flute that he’d had for 40 years. After a little convincing, I talked him into playing it. The flute sang beautifully through the station beautifully. There was an impulse to grab my phone to capture the moment, but I resisted. I continued to give him my undivided attention as the notes rained down.

He later pointed to The Alchemist and told me that he had read that book back home when he was about 4 years old. He spoke very highly of it. Given the book’s track record, in my life so far, I wasn’t surprised.

He went on to give me some very solid life advice. He echoed the words of my elders who had been reminding me, over the years, that I needed to plan for the far future. Not only did he give me a 5 year plan in which I could acquire the American Dream essentials; a home, car and financial security, but he also let me pick out a music theory book from his library.

He told me remember the crazy miner at the station. I promised I would.

I was so very thankful.

I thanked him and told him that he had changed my life. He corrected me,

“No, Dios cambió tu vida”

(“No, God Changed your life”)

I agreed with him, right as my cousin entered the train station. I thanked him several more times as my cousin helped me collect my belongings.

Once again, he told me to remember the crazy miner at the station.

I’ll never forget him.

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