With how society is today and the mentality everyone has adapted to to survive, it is difficult for humanity to remember to follow their dreams. Every day, humans wonder: Do I have enough money to pay my bills? Will I have enough time to get my errands done after work today? Will I be able to impress my boss? Of course, these things are important in daily life, but what about what each individual wants most? What are his or her dreams and aspirations? Writer Paulo Coelho understands how difficult life can be, but also understands how important it is to not ignore that little voice inside that tells one to not let life get in the way of accomplishing what one truly desires. His thoughts are expressed in his famous book The Alchemist.
A young Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago wishes to travel and believes he is doing so by traveling with his sheep. When he has a continuous dream about a treasure that awaits him at the Great Pyramids of Giza, he is told by a man, who claims himself to be a King, to go find that treasure. This king tells Santiago that everyone has a “Personal Legend” in life and that finding this treasure is his Legend. Along the way, Santiago faces obstacles that he must overcome to live his dream of traveling and finding the treasure and meets some people along the way who help him get to where he wishes to go most.
This is a wonderfully fascinating book that should be read by everyone. Not only is it a fairly short read (so no one has an excuse to not read it), but it gives important reminders to how we, as human beings, should live our daily lives. How we need to search for helpful omens in our lives to lead us to where we want to go. How other people will always enter into our lives to guide us, no matter how long we know these people. How if we ignore a dream, it will torment us for the rest of our lives. These are but a few of the many insightful reminders Coelho gives to his readers.
Not only are the helpful daily reminders wonderful to read, but Coelho’s storytelling is phenomenal. He tells a story quickly, but also with a lot of detail. He paints a beautiful picture in the minds of his readers while also not going too much into detail. He has found perfect harmony in his writing and it definitely shows. There is also a good balance of dialog and storytelling that keeps the reader intrigued.
Aside from his storytelling, his characters are well developed. His main character, Santiago, goes through much growth in less than 200 pages. What is also interesting about Santiago is that Coelho really only mentions his name once in the entire story, and that is on the very first page. After that, Santiago is always referred to as “the boy.” His encounters with the other characters such as the old Gypsy, the so-called King, and the Glass Salesman, just to name a few, are all unique with their own traits. Each one aids Santiago in his quest to find his “Personal Legend.”
The use of “Personal Legend” was very interesting in The Alchemist. When Santiago is talking to the King, the King tells him that everyone has a “Personal Legend,” which is basically a dream. Everyone has a single dream that he or she wants more than anything. Some will do whatever it takes to make that dream come true while others will put it on hold and, perhaps, never do anything to help it along. The King tells Santiago that anyone who wishes to find their dream will be aided by the universe.
The Alchemist is a short book and there is so much to say about it, but unless one has read it, it is nearly impossible to say too much about it without giving away important details. As aforementioned, with this book being as short as it is, everyone should read it at least once. It is a wonderful reminder to a world always on the go and just trying to survive to stop and remember what is really important. What is it that someone really wants out of life? Will that someone choose to make a dream he or she has had for a long time come true? Will he or she decide to pursue his or her “Personal Legend?” Coelho gives a beautiful quote in his introduction that describes why defeats are necessary in life, “Well, necessary or not, they happen. When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times” (Coelho vii). Human beings can be broken down by everyday life and the stress it inflicts, but it cannot defeat us and, in order to accomplish any dream in life, we must get back up and keep fighting for it.
Originally published at www.examiner.com on May 31, 2015.