I was gifted this book years ago by a dear friend, and just got around to reading it for the second time with le boyfriend. I love when we are able to both indulge in a great book together. We typically don’t read fiction books, but we of course made an exception for The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Although the story is made up, it’s very much parable-like as many of the topics mentioned in the book can apply to anyone’s life in the real world.
I am sure many of you are familiar with the story of The Alchemist already, but if you aren’t, here is a little recap:
The Alchemist is about a boy named Santiago, who is a shepherd, from Spain. He decides to be a shepherd from a very young age, because of his love for travel and desire to explore the world. One night, he has a dream in which he is told his treasure lies amongst the Egyptian pyramids. By complete happenstance he encounters several people (including a gypsy and a King), all of which tell him he must leave behind his life as a shepherd and to travel to Egypt to find this “treasure”. These chance encounters bring his dream to life and ignite the flame to explore the unknown.
The boy, although scared and uncertain about the future, decides to abandon the comfort of being a shepherd and instead to listen to his heart in order to turn his dreams into a reality. Throughout the boy’s solo journey of unearthing his Personal Legend, he meets many more people, who in one way or another teach him something about himself and help him in discovering the treasure he is craving to find.
Here are my top takeaways:
- Fear – there are many occurrences in which Santiago experienced fear throughout his journey. Although Santiago did not let fear get in the way of reaching his ultimate goal, many of the people he came across were not so fortunate as fear was very present and controlled their lives. In one example, the crystal merchant Santiago worked for, let fear control his life. He had longed to travel to Mecca his entire life, but he feared that traveling there would cause that burning desire to disappear and so instead he choose to live an unhappy life selling crystals in a small town. “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
- Passion – For many people, leaving behind a comfortable, normal life is quite hard to do, especially if you have no real passion to discover the unknown. Santiago’s passion for finding his Personal Legend was unwavering. Sure he was comfortable roaming the fields of Andalusia with his sheep, which he raised and grew attached to for so long-but after this reoccurring dream, he realized there was more to life than just being a shepherd boy. Although many obstacles were in his way; getting robbed, ending up in a new country not speaking the language, fear of traveling across the desert – he followed his heart and passion throughout it all and never gave up. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
- Maktub – or “it is written”. There are several references to this verbiage throughout the book. It simply implies that all the different phases in life are part of your fate, or legend. Santiago likes to come back to this refrain from time to time as a reminder that everything he does in his life has a purpose. Every action is part of his fate and is supposed to happen for one reason or another.
This is my second time reading The Alchemist. Just like watching a movie multiple times, I feel like I was able to pick up on little nuggets that I may have missed the first time and I felt I got more out of it this time around compared to when I first read it almost 4 years ago.
Has anyone else read this book and if so, what are your thoughts or favorites points to share? I would love to hear them below.