Revisiting the Soulful Odyssey of Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” 

Following the adventures of a young boy, Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” tells a story of ambitions, perseverance and dreams. Let’s take a look back at the profound philosophies of it. 

A young Shepherd who desired of living much more than just his ordinary life and dreamt of an adventure goes on a quest of finding a treasure buried at the pyramids. Santiago was living well being a shepherd but all his days felt the same and a series of events made him want to go on an adventure. 

“The treasure that we seek elsewhere, we find at our doorstep.”

In the Alchemist, Coelho refers to the boy’s dream as a personal legend. Personal legends here mean the goal of your life. Everyone has a personal legend that they just want to chase after all their lives, a spot where one can feel satisfaction of achieving their utmost desire. Without a personal legend to chase after, your life becomes full of days and moments where you find yourself unsatisfied and asking for more. The satisfaction of the end goal only becomes beautiful when you have followed an uneven road to get there. For the Shepherd boy, it wasn’t the chest of gold that he was chasing after but the journey itself was the treasure. The experiences he gained along the way, the people he met, the knowledge he earned, the feelings he felt and everything he had been through was a treasure. 

“If one sincerely desires something, the whole universe conspired to fulfill that dream”

The most popular lines of the book through which the author wants to emphasize about the role of omens and little signs played in the journey of Santiago to encourage him to go on the adventure he desperately desires. Like the time when he saw the Urim and Thummim falling out of his pocket which reminded him of his personal legend, made him want to follow his heart and continue his quest. These small signs can seem forgettable and insignificant but they all can lead us to greater things. 

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure” 

The days where he lived well being a shepherd has so much resemblance to our comfortable lives where we do the same things over and over again and all our days look the same. Being in a good memory, we think of being there forever or when we had a bad experience, we want to erase it like it wasn’t ever there. Despite coming across a number of unusual circumstances like being robbed, taken hostage or being heartbroken, there was something that kept the shepherd boy going. Santiago also came across good people and experiences in his journey but he didn’t stop there, as you don’t find an adventure that’s ahead if you want to be stuck in a comfortable memory and you won’t find all the wonders out there if you fear taking the risks. Despite following a simple story, the plot is not overly simplified or seems exaggerated, unlike most adventure stories where the protagonist fights every obstacle along the way to reach his end goal. The story is filled with extraordinary experiences and magical references but even after all that, it feels  really relatable and realistic. 

“The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

Through the series of events, Coelho demonstrates how our personal legends are affected by external circumstances. Your dream could be anything but your personal desire to chase after it will never be not affected by outer circumstances. In the book, Coelho proves the fragility of these desires through the experiments of Santiago who got scammed of all his money and thus, he could no longer afford a trip to Egypt made him question if he really ever can go on the quest which shows how our desires can be stifled by our circumstances like socioeconomic status, culture, lack of support etc. Anyone can dream big but many often find themselves being surrounded by setbacks. Santiago considers going back to his previous life as a shepherd but gladly he did not look back and he overcame a number of obstacles throughout his journey to reach his end goal and how he did all that felt extremely realistic. 

“When you possess great treasures within you and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.”

We often compare our lives with others without realizing that everyone’s journey and dreams are unique. Everyone has something to chase after or a personal legend and everyone has a different way to reach that end goal. The book introduces a crystal merchant, who dreams of traveling to Mecca but does not do anything to make it come true, he lives his life thinking about the dream that keeps him living happily which shows how personal legends and dreams make us want to have hope. Santiago also meets an Englishman who is passionate about alchemy but unlike Santiago, who gains his knowledge of the world through living experiences, the Englishman prefers to read books. There is not any perfect way to chase a dream nor is there a perfect dream. You are meant to be where you are and there is no need to measure or compare your progress and dreams with others. 

The Alchemist

About the Book – 

The Alchemist is notably the most popular book of the Brazilian Author, Paulo Coelho which tells a story of ambitions, perseverance and dreams. Over 150 million copies of the book have been sold since its publication in 1988 and it has won over 115 international prices and awards. 

Also Read: Netflix’s Depp v. Heard decodes the complex layers of the famous trial and gives the viewer a chance to see it all through an unbiased lens

Follow is for more @discultured

Leave a Reply