I've been reading The Alchemist, finally. I'm about 50 pages away from the end. I had trouble with the beginning - I didn't care about the story very much, but now I need to know how it ends...

I'm not wild about two things: the book's moral lessons are heavy-handed at times, and the story is not natural enough. I find the novel too didactic and preachy. But - and that's a big but - I do agree very much with what it's preaching, so I guess that makes us even.

One quote I especially liked yesterday was this:

He knew that any given thing on the surface of the earth could reveal the history of all things.

This morning as I went for a jog, I headed out on Sand Lake Road near International Drive (I'm in Orlando) and jogged past I-4 then around Phillips Crossing onto Turtle Lake Road. It's a good secondary road when you want to go to and from Disney and don't want to take I-4. Like, say, last night when I-4 was jammed with what looked like an accident.

It's a shiny bit of streetscape, Sand Lake Road - between Universal blvd and I-4, at any rate. Lots of neon and chain restaurants. But then you turn onto Turtle Lake and once you're past the mall there's a whole lot of not much for a while. Including sidewalk...

It was too early for me to risk running on that road - too dark, and I was wearing black; I may be crazy but I'm not stupid - so I turned onto this little side road to ponder my options. It's not much of a road; more like a back alley between a mall and an interstate where a few cars and transport trucks are parked. Mmm. Maybe that's not such a good place for jogging either.

I don't get scared easy, and I'm fairly familiar with Orlando, so it would be a stretch to say that that small turn onto a dubious "road" made me nervous. But like I always do when I jog somewhere dark without my dog, my senses are on full alert. Because you never know.

As I'm about to turn around I jump. My sudden irruption into this most unsuitable jogging space scared the dickens out of this big bunny and it leaped almost too feet in the air before fleeing into the bushes. I hadn't seen the bunny. Evidently the bunny hadn't seen me coming either. I laughed and tried to reassure it at the same time ("It's OK, bunny! I won't hurt you!") but Bunny didn't care. Bunny fled.

It made me think about that quote from The Alchemist. Me and the bunny, we both had the same experience. We were both going about our business and had our business rudely interrupted by an unexpected change of circumstances. Both the bunny and I were on alert - aware that in strange places, disaster came come real quick to the unaware. And both Bunny and I jumped when we came face to tail with the other. 

Me and Bunny (and everyone and everything else) live with a certain fear of the unknown, and a very real refusal at first to engage with what is strange to us. That is the history of our existence right there.