I know I’m a little late jumping on the Paulo Coelho bandwagon (20 million copies sold, 56 languages) but I read it in Mexico for obvious reasons – I needed inspiration to follow my dreams. Now I typically steer clear of fantasy books with male protagonists but I’m glad I broke the rules for this one. Regardless of your age or spiritual affiliation, you will get something out of it. Don’t believe me?  The book came highly recommended from the Eharmony Male Population, so it must be good 😛

A Little About Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist

The plot and writing are quite simple (easy and short read) yet full of profound observations about life, love and following your dreams.  Here’s a Quick Synopsis:

A young boy named Santiago intends to become a Priest as dictated by his parents, but decides he wants to travel the world instead at 16. His parents support this new direction and give him enough coins to become a shepherd (the most realistic way to realize his travel goal). A recurrent dream propels him on a new quest for “treasure” during which time he sells his flock, encounters pivotal characters and persists against obstacles.

How often do we "judge a book" by its cover

Our Personal Legend in The Alchemist

Santiago is used to illustrate Coelho’s belief that we were all put on Earth with a specific path to follow – he calls it our Personal Legend, which is whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm. Amen. He identifies 4 obstacles that threaten our vision:

  1. We become aware of our Personal Legend as children but are made to feel like it is impossible to achieve.
  2. We are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream.
  3. We are afraid of the defeats we will meet on the path, because we do want it and have staked everything on it.  The secret to life is falling 7 times and getting up 8 times.
  4. We are afraid of realizing our dream, for which we fought all our lives (fills soul with guilt).

So many of us live in denial, with our heads down, buzzing around, achieving things but feeling a sense of restlessness. The World’s Greatest Lie is described as when we “lose control of what’s happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate”.

When you believe this, you have license to take a more passive approach to life. I believe in being proactive and taking risks but paying attention to see how much effort it takes to pry open new doors i.e. too much effort with little progress may mean it is the wrong door.

Beginner’s Luck According to Paulo Coelho

Coelho believes “Beginner’s Luck” – a force that whets your appetite with the taste of success” occurs so you continue to follow your Personal Legend once you’ve taken that first leap. He believes that “when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. Lisa and John’s stories pay homage to that theory.

Coelho continues that “Omens”, both good and bad, are left by “God” to litter the path of your Personal Legend in an effort to guide you. In order to perceive them your eyes and heart must be open. Hallelujah, I was beginning to think I was crazy looking for signs everywhere (okay maybe I take it too far sometimes).

Finally, Coelho warns that just before your dream is realized, “the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way” and that “Only the fear of failure makes your dream impossible to achieve.”  You have to steel yourself, find inner strength and put the pieces of your journey together to overcome the final challenge.

Everything worth it in life is worth fighting for.