The Alchemist Reread

When you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it

So that’s the quote that always be in my mind since more than six years ago. six years is not just an arbitrary number. That year, six years ago, I first read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. It was my first encounter with Paulo Coelho. A friend of mine let me borrow that from him. Needless to say, that book converted me into Coelho’s fan. To date, I’ve read 13 of his books, if I counted correctly. The point I want to convey is that The Alchemist is so powerful of a book.

Differences

I first read The Alchemist as a high schooler. I read the Indonesian version. That time, I feel like I didn’t quite get the real meaning of the book. I can think of several factors now.

First, the translation. I think when a manuscript is translated repeatedly into a different language, there would be some loss in the information. Concretely, let’s say that The Alchemist was written in Portuguese. It then translated into English, from which the Indonesian version is derived. In the Portuguese - English phase, there must be some loss of meaning, so when the English version is translated into Indonesian, that loss is magnified. Hence, it just didn’t feel the same, the Indonesian version.

Second, my mind. I think six years ago, I couldn’t relate much to The Alchemist. Now, that I’ve matured, almost all of the things in The Alchemist are relateable to me. I think it’s down to my mind. The exposure to knowledge, experiences, and stimuli, matured it a lot, and suddenly everything got clear and very relateable to me.

Third, now I know what I want. Now I know my dream. Now I know my Personal Legend. This book is all about that. Hence, knowing all those, it really opened my eyes when I reread The Alchemist.

Impact

I realized, just after I started reread The Alchemist, that even though everything I remember about this book from six years ago was blurry, what I did these past six years was largely influenced by its philosophy. The Alchemist is powerful, to say the least. It influenced me without me knowing.

I certainly learned something about dream from Santiago, the protagonist of The Alchemist, who forwent his life as a shepherd in Andalusia, and went to the pyramids of Egypt to realize his dream. Coelho calls it as Personal Legend.

When I first read this book, dream is just a hazy concept for me. Year after year after that, I was always in search for my dream, my Personal Legend. Dream was the word I thought a lot. But then, the universe revealed it to me. Now, I’m on course to realize my Personal Legend.

Personal Legend

This is the main theme of the book. This is the main theme of my life. This is the main theme of everbody’s life.

As Melchizedek said to Santiago, everyone has their Personal Legend to fullfill. When we were young, we know what our Personal Legend was. At that time, everything was possible to us, we’re not afraid to dream. As years went by and we became adults, we were convinced that those dreams we dreamed when we were children, were not possible to realize.

I could relate to that. Childhood was the greatest era. I was free to dream, to do things I wanted. As I grew up, I would think twice before I did things. Heck, even I would think twice before I dreamed. Between those fears and suppression and paranoia the society gave to me, it was hard to dream. Whenever I tried to dream, all of those worries, all of those impossibilities were hitting me.

Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

For me, it’s important to not listen to the toxicity of the society anymore. It has all the weapon in its arsenal capable of burying my Personal Legend. Just as Melchizedek said:

In the long run, what people think about shepherds and bakers becomes more important for them than their own Personal Legend.

That’s the abyss that I’m so determined to avoid. Avoiding that is by no means a trivial thing, a lot of people fail on that, and I could too, if I don’t keep my determination with me all the time. Many will be content to just live, no, exist comfortably without discovering their Personal Legend, let alone realizing it.

Obstacles

Rereading The Alchemist, I also found a note by Paulo Coelho about Personal Legend. You could read it here: http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2009/06/22/workshop-the-alchemist/.

He said this:

Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don’t all have the courage to confront our own dream.

He argued that there are four obstacles that could hinder it. I’ll summarize it here, but I strongly urge you to read that full note above. I’ll thank you with all my heart if you do that, because I want everyone to discover, confront, and realize their personal legend.

  1. The toxicity of the society. We grew up with fear, guilt, and prejudice casted by the society.
  2. Love. We’re afraid of hurting people that dear to us because we think we abandon them when we’re pursuing our Personal Legend.
  3. Fear of the defeats. We’re afraid of failures.
  4. The fear of realizing our dreams. We thought that we’re not worthy to achieve our Personal Legend. Impostor Syndrome is part of this.

I found that all of the obstacles are real and relateable to my life. Those hit home really hard when I first read the note, and it still does.

Epilogue

I’m grateful to my past self to pick this book and reread it. Best decision I made this week.

I’m more determined than ever to realize my Personal Legend. These past several weeks, I had overcame some of those obstacles, and actually made a step toward my Personal Legend.

I’ve made a crucial decision.

I understand this merely just the start of my journey of realizing my Personal Legend. Things won’t be as easy as just being a “baker”. But I won’t falter, and keep my determination burning.

As The Alchemist said:

You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say.

It’s better to suffer because we’re pursuing our Personal Legend, rather than suffer because we’re ignoring our heart and the calling of our Personal Legend.

And that suffering is called regret.

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.