There are a few people, books, and moments in life that hold the power to change the way we view the world — and The Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho, is one of those precious emblems that changed my world.
The plotline of the novel is simple — Santiago, a poor shepherd from Andalusia Spain, has a recurring dream that he needs to travel across the desert for treasure located near the pyramids of Egypt — and he does just that. Of course, the real treasure, he finds, is in the journey he embarked upon, through the lessons he learns about trust, happiness, love and life.
There are numerous lessons and morals from this novel, but there is one particular quote cushioned into the heart of the story that I find resonates with all of us, at our own wavelengths.
“It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
The quote is an elixir to the chaos that Santiago put himself through the course of the novel. The possibility of obtaining the treasure near the pyramids of Egypt caused him to sell his flock of sheep, forgo a newfound love, leave his family, and travel into the unknown — into the desert, where the minimalist desert landscape was simple, but life was more complicated than he thought. There were many times in his journey where he wanted to give up his dream, but through omens, as referenced in the novel, he had a spark of courage inside of him that told him to carry out his Personal Legend. The author beautifully notes that the Personal Legend is what you have always wanted to accomplish, and that everyone knows what their Personal Legend is when they’re young, but as they age, a force convinces them that it will be impossible to realize that legend.
There is a passage in the novel that outlines how a miner had abandoned everything to go mining for emeralds. For years, he worked on a certain river, and scanned hundreds of stones, looking for an emerald. The miner was about to give it all up, when in fact, he just needed to examine one more stone to find the emerald. The old, anonymous man in the novel, Melchizedek/ King of Salem, who in fact resembles a strong figure from the Old Testatement, shows up to help those who sacrifice to pursue their Personal Legend. Melchizedek transforms himself into the last stone that the miner picks up in frustration, but he throws it with a force that it breaks the stone it fell upon, and in the broken stone, could you see the most precious emerald in the world.
No matter what stage of life we are in, we have all had dreams that we would like to actualize in front of us. The romanticized New York City provides real-time evidence of this quote. People move into the city every day to pursue their dreams, to be writers, entrepreneurs, singers, actors, the list is endless. The city carries the rhythm of the Personal Legends of countless souls who were brave to pursue their dreams.
We make countless sacrifices in life, and we carry on, with hopes of finding that emerald in the field full of stones — and just like the miner, we may be one stone away to finding that emerald. We must take that a lesson to never give up, because if we stick it just stick it through the fight, we may find what we’ve been searching for all along.
Coelho’s The Alchemist lifts the reader out of time and provides inspirational wonder and literary alchemy to carry out our own Personal Legends, and to be brave enough to pursue our dreams, independent of what the outcome may bring.