The Necessary Suffering

The suffering can’t be avoided. Maybe it should not be.

In his novel, _The Alchemist_, Paulo Coelho lays out an argument that is dismissed by many. Yes, the idea that when you truly want something the entire universe conspires to help you achieve it sounds a bit fantastic at the least. This idea is the subject of much derision. But when engaging with the novel, there is a more serious message that is not so flowery or trivial. Coelho is quite clear. He says that those of us who go after our dreams, whatever they may be, will suffer. That’s it. That in and of itself is a powerful argument to make.

Dreams of any kind require sacrifice in some form or another. Whether it be time, sweat, physical effort, relationships with family, friends, lovers — whatever it is that takes our attention. Our dreams get in the way of our lives. So there’s always a choice to make.

One can achieve a fulfilling life without the arts. Not everyone is meant to be creative. That is not a value judgment, simply an observation. Creativity has many forms. And one can find fulfillment in whatever they put their pride. It need not be painting or writing, sculpting or coding, something as simple as barbecuing can lead to the same artistic obsession that comes the creative life. If asked, many grandmasters might not say they are creative. But the evidence speaks otherwise. Grilling the perfect side of beef or smoking that perfect cut of pork is the result of a long and arduous process of experimentation. Time and money will be lost.

Again, that is the suffering.

So before dismissing the idea of following one’s dream for bourgeois posturing, remember the appeal to logic that Coelho makes when arguing while we may not achieve our dreams — we will suffer.

Some would argue that there aren’t any guarantees in life, but it seems like we have stumbled upon one here today.

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