My Aleph

This past week I did something completely out of the ordinary.

I read a book.

I used to read 2-3 books a week back when I had no responsibilities, travel, study or a child in my life. The past few days I didn’t travel anywhere, I didn’t work. When my son went to bed, I read.

Paulo Coehlo’s Aleph has been sitting in my bookshelf waiting for me for a few years now. I don’t know what it is about South American writers – but I love his writing almost as much as Gabriel García Márquez (especially Love in the Time of Cholera – probably in my top 5 favorite books). I finally got to dust off Aleph and read it. Paulo’s language is simple and yet the divinity in his writing is something that persists in your being long after you have put the page down. I found myself walking down the street this afternoon ruminating on what I had read. I believe in Paulo’s concept of the Aleph – I have met people in my journey through life that I am sure I have met before. It even happened to me fairly recently – I walked into a meeting in New York and met someone that I am sure I knew in a past life. The familiarity of that person was astonishing.

It has happened to me more than once…

But the most interesting take-home message from this book, is how divinity is obtained through our spiritual journey through life. Paulo speaks of a personal crisis of faith where the routine of his life no longer enables him to connect with his spiritual identity. This is also the experience of my life. As 2014 comes to a close and I reflect on my journey the past 12 months, I realize it has been demanding, tiring, occasionally exhilarating and often frustrating, but it is has followed a routine that has not opened me up to the possibilities of the universe. Even in the physical domain, I traverse the same beaten pathways, the same cities, the same air streams…

The only inkling I have of the oppression of this routine is from a trip I made a few weeks ago to Istanbul. I was in Turkey for perhaps 15 hours, no more. A few business meetings and dinner and then I flew back to Los Angeles. I’d been in Europe for several days in the “usual places” before getting up bright and early one morning and boarding a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul. As the plane made its descent, I felt a strange feeling that isn’t normally invoked in my business travel – excitement. Not so much for the meetings I was to have (though excellent people), or going to a new place (I have visited Istanbul before) but rather that I was going somewhere that was not in my usual routine. For a brief moment, travel was exciting, intriguing, different – and I felt open to the possibility of what the day would bring to me.

So therefore in 2015 I must ensure that, if only periodically, my journey deviates from the routine. Of course life can serve such detours without your asking (and one must not taunt the universe) but I will be spiritually much better placed to respond to the challenges of life if I also occasionally enact a detour myself.

To 2015… and elective detours…