I’m currently re-reading (for the third time) THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a brief explanation. It’s basically a fable, i.e. a short story with supernatural elements that conveys a moral.
The main character is a young shepherd boy from Spain who goes on a quest to find a treasure and, along the way, encounters mentors, friends and enemies, as well as many obstacles and setbacks, some quite dangerous. He also falls in love and has to overcome his own self-doubts and fears. All of these elements are part of the larger journey of his life, symbolically representing how we can get easily distracted or discouraged from what our heart truly desires. The moral of the story is that each person has a Personal Legend (the thing they were put on this Earth to do), and a person’s only obligation in life is to pursue that Personal Legend.
A friend gave me this book many years ago as I was about to travel abroad for a film festival. I read it again shortly after Kaz died. I’m reading it again now because I’m feeling many of the emotions the shepherd feels in the story. But I believe my “personal legend” is to be a story-teller and the upcoming journey to the east coast is part of that evolution. Writing is the foundation of my soul, the base from which all else springs.
Below are some favorite quotes from The Alchemist. You could spend hours meditating on each one, but as you read through them, think about your own personal legend. Do you know what it is? Are you pursuing it?
“People learn, early in their lives, what is their reason for being.”
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
“There is a force that wants you to realize your Personal Legend.”
“Every search begins with beginners luck and ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”
“Everything in life is an omen… There is a universal language, understood by everybody, but already forgotten.”
“Don’t forget that everything you deal with is only one thing and nothing else. And don’t forget the language of omens. And, above all, don’t forget to follow your Personal Legend through to its conclusion.”
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
“The closer one gets to realizing his Personal Legend, the more that Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being.”
“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.”
“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”
“There is only one way to learn. It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”
“Making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the little boy asks.
The old man replies, “It’s this: that 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.”
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”
“Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World.”
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
“The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.”
“Naturally, (your heart) is afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.”
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So, it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”
“When something evolves, everything around that thing evolves as well.”