Title: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
While WWOOF-ing at Sacred Earth in New Zealand for three weeks, I found this small book on a shelf in one of the volunteer spaces. It was a thin book, and I had heard people mention this little book casually as a required reading they may have had to do in school. I didn’t really know much else about it, but figured it would be a quick read so I decided to spend an evening absorbing the content.
The Alchemist is a short read, and pretty easy. It was originally written in Portuguese, but it translates to English well. The storyline follows a shepherd boy, named Santiago, who becomes a shepherd so that he can follow his dream of traveling. Already I am feeling a connection to the main character, as I too often dreamed of seeing the world and left home despite comments from others that the current place was no different than the other places, nor the people any different.
“But I’d like to see the castles in the towns where they live,” the boy explained.
“Those people, when they see our land, say that they would like to live here forever,” his father continued.
“Well, I’d like to see their land, and see how they live,” said his son.
Santiago’s father wishes him to be a priest, and tries to discourage him from following his dreams. Eventually, Santiago is given his fathers’ blessing to pursue his heart, and not once did Santiago regret his decision. The lessons that he learned from his travels only fueled the fire of his passion for it.
Santiago is eventually given a quest to find treasure, and during this quest his adventure leads him to Africa. He finds himself in a new place and unable to speak the language. Despite losing all his money and having no friends or family in this new place, Santiago keeps a positive outlook and is able to find work and make friends. He even learns to speak the language of the people. He learns new skills, and continues to grow a greater world view, far exceeding what he could have been by just staying at “home.”
The messages throughout the text resonate to me on many levels. I can also apply the ideas to my current situation. My husband and I have sold almost all our belongings to pursue our dream of traveling New Zealand. We are in a new land, with a different lifestyle, and while we have support from our family and friends we are living in a way that not many other people could find the courage to do themselves.
There are also elements of learning to observe what is around you, spirituality, learning to be present, listening to your heart, the many “languages” of the world and finding the “Soul of the World.” All of which are learned through Santiago and his observations and experiences.
I am happy I finally read this book, and at the perfect moment in my life too! I want to finish with this quote below:
“I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure,” he said to himself.
Santiago was looking for a physical treasure, but he also ended up finding another type. A spiritual treasure, a mental treasure – wisdom. Through my travels, I feel that I am finding my own similar treasures. Things you can only learn or experience when you bring yourself out of your comfort zone. As I said, this book came to me at the perfect moment, reassuring me that I too am being true to my heart and following my dreams.
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Thanks for reading!