“The Alchemist” – A Must Read

For those of you who have not yet read “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho, you must drop everything and buy that book. There is a reason why this book has sold over forty million copies! In my opinion this fable is the best story ever written on how following your dream brings about the best in you. The book encapsulates spirituality, power of our mind, creating the life that we want, belief in one-self and the magic of life.

Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coelho introduces Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he’s off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream. During his journey he learn a lesson or two about life. Along the way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman’s books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists–men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the “Soul of the World.” Of course he does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy’s misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. “My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.

Here is a quick summary*:

When Santiago, a young shepherd boy from the Spanish countryside of Andalusia , has a dream that reveals the location of a hidden treasure buried at the Egyptian Pyramids his simple life is suddenly torn in two. Part of him wants to take the chance to go searching for it and the other part of him wants to continue his easy life as a shepherd.
A mysterious king named the king of Salem in Tarifa convinces Santiago that he has succeeded in discovering his Personal Legend. The old king tells Santiago that following his Personal Legend to its conclusion is a person’s only real obligation in life.

Santiago listens to his heart and decides to go on a dangerous search for the treasure. He sells his flock of sheep and heads to Africa, where he is quickly robbed of all his gold and left despondent on the streets. He decides that he was foolish to believe in his dreams and quickly gets a job with a crystal merchant in order to save up enough money to go back home.

After almost a year working for the merchant, Santiago has made a success of the shop and has plenty of money to do whatever he wants. As he’s walking the streets to go back home he suddenly decides to take a chance and continue his search for the buried treasure.

He joins a caravan to make the dangerous crossing across the desert and as he rides the long, slow days away he begins to listen to his heart and to the desert. He begins to understand what the Soul of the World is, and how he fits in.

When the caravan makes it to the oasis, Santiago meets a girl he falls in love with the moment he sees her. The local alchemist, a mysterious man who reminds Santiago of the old king, helps Santiago continue his journey across the desert and teaches him more important life lessons along the way. Although Santiago does not know it, he is becoming wise, and a master in the art of living to the fullest no matter what. Although he has left his true love back at the oasis, he is resolved to follow his dream to its end.

After many adventures, dangers, and important life lessons Santiago finally reaches the Pyramids. His joy at finally being at journey’s end overwhelms him, and he is grateful that he got the chance to follow his dream.

He begins to dig deep into the sand looking for treasure, but before he can get far a pack of thieves shows up, beating and robbing him. They force him to continue digging, and then leave when no treasure is found. One of the thieves, as destiny would have it, tells Santiago an important clue and when they’re gone Santiago can’t help but laugh, because now he knows where his treasure truly lies.

It ends up being right back where his journey began, under the very tree where he had the prophetic dream years before. He digs and finds a beautiful chest full of gold and gems. His next and last journey will be back to the desert to be reunited with the woman he loves.

*(Summary taken from www.WikiSummaries.org)

Even if you have read this book once or several time before, it will not fail to give you a boot and make you wonder whether there indeed is a higher power behind what we call life.

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