3 Gems From The Alchemist
The first time I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho was a decade ago. My friend and I happened to discuss the book and wondered why it was such rage then. Neither of us remembered much, except that the book was about a boy traveling through the desert trying to make some wind.
A few days later The Alchemist showed up on a rack while shopping for stationery. I felt drawn to read it again and make sense of why it is popular.
There were three reasons I picked it again.
1. What was it about the book?
2. Paulo Coelho's books have deeper soul-searching meaning through everyday stories.
3. I don't ignore coincidences. Right after discussing the book bumping into it is a coincidence for me.
Girl, Ain’t I grateful for honoring my instinct!
Reading The Alchemist is a contradiction.
It is an easy quick read but with a soul-stirring depth that cannot be fully assimilated. The story is simple but layered with insights into the journey of our lives that cannot be expressed through words. A book to be kept handy when one wants to go within.
“I recommend The Alchemist to anyone who is passionately committed to claiming the life of their dreams — today.” — Tony Robbins
The book drove me into a highlighting spree along with sitting and wondering at the deep thoughts penned elegantly. I possess neither the depth nor the knack to do justice to what Paulo Coelho has articulated through the story of the shepherd. A few of the gems resonated close to heart and stirred strings. The Alchemist has a lot to take away, for each one of us.
It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.
My friends and I call it ‘having a project’. In essence, something to look forward to. When we are working towards a dream, we immerse ourselves in action. Our hearts are happy. The labor or effort involved in working towards the dream makes the actualization of the dream worth it.
Smaller projects in life are easier to achieve and labor for. The short term goals are essential to feeling a sense of fulfillment and success. It gives us a sense of confidence in our abilities. Whether it is fitting into a pair of jeans, writing 3 articles a week, getting curated, buying your home, setting up your home, reading a book, a personal or professional goal -they are all important.
The catch is -we get lost in this dopamine hit. It is easy to lose sight of what Paulo Coelho calls “Personal Legend”. The society we live in, the goals that are fed to us through social media, our peers, our fears can cloud our dreams. We end up with the proverbial ladder against the wrong wall.
The labor of chasing a dream which is not your own is never fulfilling. Even after the dream is realized, we do not find joy.
Dreams drive us. We should listen intently to our hearts. Yes, it is not easy always. Taking a moment every day to truly listen to ourselves will slowly start shifting the clouds. One day at a time we can tune into what we truly love and what we truly want to achieve. Our own ‘Personal Legend’ will get clearer by the day.
Why do we have to listen to our hearts? Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure. -Paulo Coelho
The journey of realizing the dream can then start.
One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.
I love peanut butter, my daughter, on the other hand, cringes every time she sees me dig into a jar. There is nothing right or wrong with peanut butter. I and she can give opposing views about peanut butter. But I love it, she doesn't.
We can attempt to rationalize why we love, what, or who we love, but words can never capture the essence of love. When we love, we just do.
Humans by nature want to categorize everything, and as a society, we have tried to put love in the form of elements on a periodic table.
eg: At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas with the molecular formula H2.
The same way humans chart out love. If you are born in a family this is whom you love, the culture you are born in defines whom and how to love, the financial situation dictates what to love or follow, your gender narrates whom to love, even your caste categorizes it.
Love is free. Love is love. It is felt within the heart. Whether the love is for a thing, a person, a place, or something you do, if it feels right it is right. When we truly love we truly connect.
Love is a positive force.
We love just because we love.
But you are in the desert. So immerse yourself in it. That will give you an understanding of the world.
This to me is an assimilation of being present, being accepting, and being grateful.
2020 put a lot of me to test. Every time I faltered at either of the 3 above I experienced stress. I have always taken pride in addressing problems and coming to terms with the problem and the solution. But again, maybe I had never truly experienced ripples in my life.
Being present helps us fully appreciate the moment, which is life. Everything else is either a memory or imagination. Eckhart Tolle has elaborated beautifully about being in the present in his books “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth”.
Acceptance is the foundation of action. Without acceptance, we can not make decisions or take actions in alignment with ourselves. We should first start with acceptance of our own selves. When we truly understand ourselves, we can expand to understand what we do, where we are and the world around us.
Once we tune in, we can truly hear what our soul desires. Like Paulo Coelho says we are all connected to the universe, each one of us. When we can hear what our souls desire we can take action.
Being grateful is powerful. It goes one step above acceptance. When we become grateful the universe gives us more to be grateful for.
When we can work the three, we are truly immersing ourselves in our current situations and actions. Every situation, every experience, every person can teach us about the workings of the world if we are willing to listen. We start learning. We start growing.
But we are busy being blindly consumed by our surroundings instead of us immersing ourselves in our now with full awareness.
Learning in any form is the stepping stone towards personal growth. It is one step closer to our dream.
The Alchemist is brimming with insight. There is something for everyone. We are all on different journeys but the story is about all our journeys.
My copy of the book has highlights on every other page. I have added the page numbers so that you can go straight to that page for a better or an understanding that is your own.
The book might speak differently to each one of us based on where we are in our journeys.
The article wouldn't have ended if I chose to write about everything in the book. Below are some more gems and page numbers for further reading if they resonate with you.
And dreams are the language of god -pg 15
Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth. -pg 24
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it -pg 43
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. -pg 70
The boy was beginning to understand that intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected and we are able to know everything because it’s all written there. -pg 76
When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the world. It’s always a positive force. -pg 81
Everyone has his or her own way of learning things. -pg 86
The secret is here in the present. pg 106
Life attracts life. -pg 120
There is only one way to learn. It is through action. - pg129
Why do we have to listen to our hearts? Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure. pg 132
Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. -pg 134
When something evolves everything around that thing evolves as well. -pg142
That is why alchemy exists — so that everyone will search for his treasure, find it and then want to be better than he was in his former life. -pg 54
Because when we love we always strive to become better than we are. -pg155