“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Some books are meant to alter life and motivate those who dare to follow their dreams. Written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho in 1988, The Alchemist is one such masterpiece. It was initially written and published in Portuguese. It is an international bestseller and has been translated to more than 70 languages. An alchemist is a person who has the power to convert any metal into gold. And that is exactly what the book does to the mind of a reader.
The protagonist, Santiago, is a shepherd from Spain. He sees a dream about hidden treasure in Egypt, again and again. He decides to embark on a journey to follow his dream after meeting an old king who offers him magic stones and advice. Santiago crosses the Mediterranean and Sahara to find his treasures and accomplish his legend, his purpose in life. The book details his journey and the various encounters that he experiences when following his dream. Will he find the hidden treasure? You will have to read the book to find out.
The most beautiful part about this book is its description of the entire human life and destiny through intricately placed metaphors. The philosophical teachings of this book are so compelling that the reader is forced to pause and introspect. The use of omens and the portrayal of God as a guiding, divine presence; is fascinating.
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and get up eight times.“
Coelho’s writing is effortless, and he connects to the subconscious. The choice of words is impeccable, full of wisdom and philosophy. The story is very enchanting and bursts with optimism. Most of Coelho’s work, including the Alchemist, explores the force between the universe and a being and how everything happens for a purpose. He convinces the reader to dream and follow the passion that ignites within. He believes that the entire universe leads people to their destiny, and those who don’t follow, lead sad, unsatisfied lives.
Every person, at the start of their journey, knows their destination. However, worldly obstacles distract and take the vision away. People, who still manage to stay on the right path, eventually succeed and learn the real purpose of their existence. It’s a passion that drives everything around. Succumbing to your weakness and calling it fate is never the solution.
“At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
My favorite component of this book is that no matter how many times you read it, you always learn something completely new. The Alchemist (1993) does not get away from the fact that dreams have a price, but, as Coelho has said in interviews, not living your dreams also has a price. Much of self-help literature is about pursuing our destiny, but dreams do not always pull us along; they speak persistently but quietly, and it does not take much effort to smother the inner voices.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Who is willing to risk comfort, routine, security, and existing relationships to follow something that to others looks like a mirage? It takes courage, and dog-eared, stained copies of Coelho’s classic have become the constant companion of people who need to make bold decisions daily to keep true to a broader vision.