Koen Vandervliet (BE), barista, Antwerp

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‘As he sat there thinking, he sensed movement above him. Looking up, he saw a pair of hawks flying high in the sky.

He watched the hawks as they drifted on the wind. Although their flight appeared to have no pattern, it made a certain kind of sense to the boy. It was just that he couldn’t grasp what it meant. He followed the movement of the birds, trying to read something into it. Maybe these desert birds could explain to him the meaning of love without ownership.

He felt sleepy. In his heart, he wanted to remain awake, but he also wanted to sleep. “I am learning the Language of the World, and everything in the world is beginning to make sense to me… even the flight of the hawks,” he said to himself. And, in that mood, he was grateful to be in love. When you are in love, things make even more sense, he thought.

Suddenly, one of the hawks made a flashing dive through the sky, attacking the other. As it did so, a sudden, fleeting image came to the boy: an army, with its swords at the ready, riding into the oasis. The vision vanished immediately, but it had shaken him. He had heard people speak of mirages, and had already seen some himself: they were desires that, because of their intensity, materialized over the sands of the desert. But he certainly didn’t desire that an army invade the oasis.

He wanted to forget about the vision, and return to his meditation. He tried again to concentrate on the pink shades of the desert, and its stones. But there was something there in his heart that wouldn’t allow him to do so. “Always heed the omens,” the old king had said. The boy recalled what he had seen in the vision, and sensed that it was actually going to occur.’

From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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“These words, coming from The Alchemist from Paulo Coelho. Here, the boy sees the hawks as a omen, a sign to get moving and to take decisions. I believe in omen and I try to follow them. I’ve had this tattoo since I was 22. At that time I didn’t have a coffeeshop, a girlfriend, or a son. I had even time to read books, imagine.”

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