Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.1
The Alchemist was published in 1993, but it was such a well known title, I had assumed it was much older than this. For years I had heard of The Alchemist and how good it was but never got to the story until I came across it available on audiobook. The Alchemist is a soul searching novel that causes the reader to look into their own souls and into their own life’s path and question if they are following their hearts and their “personal legend”. The young shepherd boy Santiago has dreamt of the pyramids in the desert twice now and his dreams speak of a treasure that he will find there. Despite already going against his fathers wishes, Santiago became a shepherd, but in order to follow his dream he must give up his herd along his journey. His path crosses with many along the way, each character effecting his journey and his story. Although his dreams spoke to him and he knew he would follow it’s path, he speaks to a gypsy woman who tells him nothing he doesn’t already know and demands a portion of his treasure once he finds it. He also meets a man known as the King who explains that Santiago is following his dream to pursue and complete his personal legend. The King explains that each person has their own personal legend and it is our purpose in life to follow and complete that legend by looking for the signs and listening to the world around us. Our personal legends want to be fulfilled and will assist in any way it can, and others will also assist when someone is in pursuit of their personal legend. Unfortunately, when we stray from our path and no longer listen or see the signs they can fade away into nothing.
Santiago takes a big risk following his dream or “personal legend” as the book likes to call it. The themes in the story really resonate as it speaks of those who listen to the call of their dreams but never pursue them. There are also those who know of their personal legend but fear to complete it for the unknown once it is done. Some believe it is better to hold on to that dream each day, rather than complete it and no longer have that dream/goal.
Paulo Coelho has even broken down the 10 life lessons that can be taken from the alchemist summarized below and the full page can be found here
- Fear is a bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself.
- What is “true” will always endure
- Break the monotony
- Embrace the present
- Your success has a ripple-effect
- Make the decision
- Be unrealistic
- Keep getting back up
- Focus on your own journey
- Always take action
The Alchemist is a relatively short read jam packed with these profound and very relative themes that all people can find a connection to. It does not matter what walk of life you come from, anyone who reads this book can find the connection between these 10 themes in Santiago’s story with their own lives. I fully support anyone pursuing their personal legend, but I have to admit I became very annoyed at the constant use of that term “personal legend” and wished it could have been changed to something else.
The Alchemist is a must read story for anyone at any stage in their life. I believe it would also be a tale that you could revisit at different periods in your life and find different meanings. The story may not have been the most gripping and awe inspiring of tales, but even just following the 10 themes noted above will give you all the knowledge you need to pursue your own… *cringe* personal legends.
- Book Summary Courtesy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho book page.