The Alchemist


Just finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Here’s a description:

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.” Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist.

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams.

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. The Alchemist is such a book. With over a million and a half copies sold around the world, The Alchemist has already established itself as a modern classic, universally admired. Paulo Coelho’s charming fable, now available in English for the first time, will enchant and inspire an even wider audience of readers for generations to come.

There were a lot of ideas in it I didn’t agree with, but I thought it made some good points in regards to pursuing one’s calling (or “Personal Legend” as it’s referred to in the book). Here are a few:

– When we don’t pursue the things we are meant to do, something important within us shrivels and dies. Made me think about this quote by Henry David Thoreau,  “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

– The desire for comfort, security, and social status can keep us from reaching reaching our destiny. Many people allow these things to supplant the dream – all the while lying to themselves and others that they’ll pursue their dream “someday.”

– How we see ourselves has a huge influence on the choices we make. We’re at our best when we are acting out of our true identity.

– We should choose our companions for the journey wisely. Many appear trustworthy, but are not.

– Our dreams/callings will be tested – to the point where we will be tempted to give up. How we respond in these moments is crucial.

– We fulfill our call as we take tangible steps towards it. Just thinking about it does not move us any closer to it.

– The journey is often as much about who we become as where we end up.

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