While I was in Morocco, Driss and I had a lot of time together traveling from one spot in Morocco to the next. There was something that was mentioned. I can’t quite remember if it was Driss or a tour guide who said it to me (pretty sure it was Driss), but he said that I should look at the path in my life. Look back at it and see the journey. Look to see that God (Allah) is leading you somewhere. You can see the map.
When he said that I started to think about the last decade. It’s been a crazy, strange, wild and amazing ride. I’ve thought about the heartaches. I’ve thought about the pain. I’ve thought about the loss. I’ve thought about the changing points. I’ve thought about the success. I’ve thought about my failures. I realized…it was just one big map to understanding where I was standing in that very moment.
I was standing in a bookstore in Marrakech a few weeks ago. My guide was ordering the Qur’an for me in English. While we were waiting for the bookseller to go through his stock to find the book, I started to watch the other Muslim Arabs around me. I had my back glued to the glass bookcase, trying to stay out of everyone’s way in the small space while my guide negotiated for the English Qur’an.
I watched as the book transactions took place from one person to the next. My mind started to drift back to the sand dunes of the Sahara, thinking about Hamid…and for some odd reason I thought of “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. It was one of the first books I read after my grandfather died in 2007 when my entire world started to change.
I kept thinking how my trip had become so much like the pages out of the book of “The Alchemist” when just two short seconds later I see the bookseller bring out a copy of “The Alchemist” in Arabic and sell it to a lady in front of me. Odd, right? But it was strangely synchronistic.
I told Winter Adams yesterday that she should pick up a copy of “The Alchemist.” I don’t know, I feel like I need to fill her with so much information before I leave…before the season ends and I move forward in life.
I picked up my own copy while I was texting her and it opened up to a part in the book that ended up feeling like it was the exact point in my life that my own personal legend was happening.
“Fatima arrived and filled her vessel with water. “I came to tell you just one thing,” the boy said. “I want you to be my wife. I love you.” The girl dropped the container, and the water spilled. “I’m going to wait here for you every day. I have crossed the desert in search of a treasure that is somewhere near the Pyramids, and for me, the war seemed a curse. But now it’s a blessing, because it brought me to you.”
To me, that’s a very odd passage to come across randomly. Why? The irony here…the nomad gave me the nickname ‘Fatima.’ While I was in the bookstore, I kept thinking that the boy in “The Alchemist” reminded me of Hamid. He used to be a sheepherder, just like the boy. He used to sit there for years watching his flock, before he decided to step away from that life and settle into one town, have one job. But the desert…you can’t take that away from his soul.
Paulo Coelho was able to accurately describe the life of the nomad in “The Alchemist.” Would you believe that most nomads end up going to a big city or a new place just to find their own path in life? Josef went to Majorca, Spain (but then came back to the desert). There are other nomads that tell me of their brothers that went to Australia or France or Seattle, Washington. Those guys…they left because they met a tourist out in the desert and fell in love. They followed her to her home country.
Berber tradition dictates that he has to follow the girl to her home country. Trust me, there are many stories about nomads that follow that girl they had fallen so madly in love with.
As I look back at these past few years, I can see God’s map of my life. I can see all of the dots connecting in amazing ways. Being a writer and traveling the world, talking about the people I meet, and the stories they tell me…that was my own personal legend. I got my feet wet with that path thanks to the NHL. I was able to tell the stories of hockey players and the NHL over the years. I was able to travel all over the world thanks to the NHL. In a way, the NHL helped me get my life started in the right direction. It’s like Santiago (Coelho’s character). He had to at first start at the bottom and work his way up to finding the next step on his path in life.
Every single time I drink tea from a little glass, I think of Santiago in “The Alchemist.” I think about how this novel invention of drinking tea from a glass changed the way tea is enjoyed in Arabic countries. I enjoyed it so much, I not only bought tea and a silver tea kettle, but I also had a set of Moroccan tea glasses gifted to me by the shop owner. I have tea all of the time now in those little glasses. That’s a habit I picked up in Morocco that I enjoy more than anything.
In the book, taking two ideas and creating a new one that could benefit all…that is how a new path was discovered for Santiago.
Before my grandfather died, he said to me that it was only after I got on my path in life that love, marriage and a family would come my way. The only way I could have those things were if I was on that path. If I wasn’t on my path, none of those things would come my way. That was back in 2007. A month or two later, “The Alchemist” fell into my hands…almost explaining what my grandfather had told me to do.
My grandfather had never read that book.
Katrina Cady always mentions that when she visits me she sneezes…like a ghost is in my building. We’ve pinpointed that it’s probably my grandfather. It’s funny that while I was away, my friend told me that every time she came by, the photo collage of my grandfather kept falling down from the wall and she couldn’t figure out why. She kept putting it back up, and it kept falling back down.
When I got home, I couldn’t understand why the frame was down, so I put it back up. It’s not fallen down since I put it back up. I think maybe it was just my grandfather’s way of trying to tell my friend that he was there each time she came by the apartment.
I sometimes catch the cat looking up at something, or standing there talking to someone. When I ask her what she’s looking at or who she’s talking to, she stops, looks at me and then looks the other way…like she doesn’t know what I’m talking about. But I know who she’s talking to.
My psychologist once said to me that she believed that I refused to marry because my grandfather said he would be the one to walk me down the aisle. It was my refusal to marry that perhaps meant that it would prolong his life. Maybe I saw a sort of finality to our time together if he walked me down the aisle.
I think there’s more to it. Before he died, his last words to me were the words that changed my life completely. I wouldn’t have become a writer if he hadn’t told me to become the person I dreamed of being. He gave me the secrets to life and how to have an amazing life, just one month before he died. To me, that was the greatest treasure he could have ever given to me. It’s worth more than money, houses, stocks, jewels, real estate, cars, or anything he could have left for me in his Will.
It’s the things left in the Will for me that ended up getting me ousted out of the family…that whole ‘why is Michelle so special…she’s not special at all’ that you hear coming from my aunt’s mouth. That stuff left on paper…that’s the stuff you see in probate court. The stuff worth millions more…that’s the stuff whispered into the ear of a young woman trying to find her way in this lifetime…trying to find her way out of a very dark place in her life. He was trying to throw me a flashlight and help me find my own way out of that pit of sorrow.
There’s a contingency in my grandfather’s Will. In order to access the funds, we have to live the dream. We have to make the dream become a reality in order to access anymore money from the Will. But to me, that money means nothing. What is worth more to me is the life I’ve found.
For those who have read “The Alchemist” I can only say that the book is very real. Living your dreams can be very real. It takes courage to find your path in life. It takes faith that God will lead you in the right direction. It takes having an open mind and being open to possibilities that will direct you along that road.
When I announced back in July that this would be my final season writing about hockey, I mentioned that it seemed like everything was finally coming full circle at last. Outside of hockey, I’m being told in a foreign land…look at the map of your life and see how it has led you to this exact point in your life.
I started re-reading “The Alchemist” last night. The author’s note in the beginning noted that his publisher said, “reading The Alchemist was like getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise while the rest of the world still slept.”
Ever since I met Hamid, I wake up at the Moroccan sunrise and can see the sun rising over Algeria in the distance. I can feel the sun’s rays on my skin, the sun blinding my eyes while they are still closed. It becomes so bright that I have to open them to see that it’s after 1AM in New York City and it’s still dark outside.
You never forget the sunrise in the Sahara Desert. You also don’t miss a special moment where a nomad takes your hand and shows you a second sunrise over the dunes. THAT is something you never forget. Two sunrises in one morning.
For some strange reason, reading “The Alchemist” again is like bringing everything full circle. It’s looking back and seeing how everything began right as my grandfather died. I started an incredible journey in life that so many people are jealous of. There are many that say I don’t deserve it. They deserve that spot. They deserve that life.
No…you don’t deserve my life. You deserve YOUR LIFE. You deserve to take the lessons from my life, the experiences I’ve shared and let it inspire you to reach for your own dreams. It’s designed to show you that we all have our own paths in life. The only way you can make your dreams come true is if you get on your path in life. You have to open your mind and your life up to the infinite number of possibilities that can be shown to you. You have experiences yet to unfold…and they belong to NO ONE, but YOU. You can’t have someone else’s life. That’s their own personal legend. But you can have a life just as remarkable as theirs…so long as you are on your own path in life.
We may never know where the road is leading us, but we know it’s leading us somewhere. Coelho talked about how people that are on their path in life…those living their own personal legend…they experience great suffering. They sometimes suffer more than other people.
He says, “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times…Because, once we have overcome the defeats-and we always do-we are filled by a great sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight.”
I always think of how if that rockstar hadn’t broken my heart, I never would have gone to New York. I never would have found new friends. I never would have found hockey or a new meaning in my life.
I also think about the cancer and how becoming so weak, made my spirit stronger. It taught me how to live.
I think about Kevin and how his death didn’t destroy my life. Letting go helped me to discover a new soulmate. It helped me to love again.
I think about how coming to New York helped me to find God (of all places). I found what I was looking for here.
I lost the greatest man in my life…he taught me how I could have the most amazing life possible. He gave me a dream in his death…a dream meant to come true. I learned through the loss of my grandfather, that I was not only destined for great things…but I had a choice in living in darkness, or living in a world that is too good to be true. I found my own personal legend.
I lost my best friend when she betrayed me…and I also lost a mother. But what God showed me was that what happened, no matter how evil, she did out of love so that I could become an even better person. The act was designed a long time ago to push me on my path in life. It would help shape what I was about to do in this world…to do good, while she took on the evil. I have to remember that she did it out of love so that her daughter could do good in this world.
There are things that are unexplainable, but Carl Jung said a long time ago that science and math may not be able to explain these things, but they do exist. Synchronicity of the universe exists.
If you haven’t read “The Alchemist,” pick it up, read it and learn from it. If I could tell you that the things he talks about is 100% true, would you change your entire life? I believed in what he wrote, and watched my life change for the better. I watched something amazing happen. I realized that I am more in control of my own universe than most people believe they are. You can have a shitty life, or you can have an amazing life. That choice is really up to you. You control your own universe.
As I look back at these past few years, with everything in my universe coming full circle, I can see a new path forming. There are people that don’t believe in those paths that tell you that they think you’re crazy. You shouldn’t do it. They have a bad feeling about it. Those are all people that never lived the dream. They don’t see the sun rising in the horizon at dawn while others are sleeping. They don’t see two sunrises in the morning, because someone showed them that it was possible.
They don’t know what it’s like to be on their own path in life. For me, I know the next path sounds crazy…but it’s just about as crazy as the one I took back in 2004 when I moved to New York City. I gave two weeks notice, packed up my things and left. I didn’t even have a place to live lined up. Everything just fell into place so quickly and I knew I had made the right choice.
It’s a lot like now. I’ve been waiting for any sign to say…this is a mistake. The only mistake I feel like I made…was getting on that plane in Casablanca to come back home. That is the ONLY mistake I feel like I made. It’s a mistake I regret and am trying to rectify.
There are days I feel like I’m going to go insane because I can’t get a hold of the nomad. He doesn’t have a cell phone, email or a mailing address. I have to literally wait two weeks for the tour company to find him in the desert to let him know when I’ll be back in Morocco. Then I have to wait until April to see him again. The whole time I keep praying that he doesn’t fall in love with someone else. Trust me, it’s driving me insane.
I just have to keep telling myself to put him out of my mind. Write the story, send it to the publishers. Write the story, send it to the publishers. Then when it’s all done, it will be time to go back.
Who knows…I may go back in April and realize…he’s not the one for me. Maybe the door will close on Morocco. Maybe I’ll fall for some guy here. There are six months between now and then and God can make anything happen during that time. But for whatever reason…everything points to me leaving the US and not for the reasons you think.
It’s just time to start that journey I told my grandfather I wanted to take back in May 2007. I wanted to travel the world and write the stories of the people I meet. My grandfather told me, “Then do that.” It’s just time to live that dream.