The Alchemist - Hidden Gems & Challenges
Book Title: The Alchemist (25th Anniversary Edition)
Author: Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is filled with wisdom explained in the simplest terms and can easily be applied to everyday living. It tells the story of a shepherd boy named Santiago who sets out on a journey traveling across the world in search of a treasure that’s revealed to him through his dreams. Along the way, he meets a Gypsy woman, King, an Alchemist and some others; all of whom help the boy follow his personal legend. I found the greatest value in this novel was to not focus on the treasure itself, but to read about the various obstacles and challenges that Santiago faced along the way. It was in this where the reader learns about the power of dreams and harnessing the power within yourself that may not be fully realized.
Here are 3 Hidden Gems that resonated with me:
Hidden Gem #1: “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting” - pg. 13
Let’s think about this one. We all have dreams, and you can fall anywhere on the scale from 1) not believing in your dreams as they may appear to be absolutely unattainable to 5) you know without a doubt that you will dedicate every second of your life to realizing your dreams. What I love about this novel is that it shows how Santiago had his dream and started as 1 on the scale and took the reader through the scale all the way to 5. Although there were many instances and people along the way that shifted the scale from 1 to 4, then back down to 2 and many numbers in between, ultimately Santiago set his heart on 5 and he became determined to follow life’s omens to fulfill his purpose.
This same process can be applied to our own lives. Whether you have a dream that was found in resting, or a dream discovered while awake that’s transformed to a passion. As the quote shares, it’s the simple possibility of that dream coming true that will make life interesting.
Challenge: No matter where you fall on the scale of dreams today, explore the possibility of your dream being realized and I hope it sparks a sense of motivation.
Hidden Gem #2: “In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you” pg 31-32
At this time of the novel, Santiago meets an old man that later reveals himself as a King. I’d say Santiago is at a 3 on the scale of believing his dreams. He’s met the Gypsy who asked for 1/10 of his treasure (still not knowing what it is) in exchange for interpreting his dream. And now he’s encountered this King who shares these wise words with the boy. Let’s break down this quote a bit, an omen is an event that holds some sort of prophetic significance. God has prepared a path for EVERYONE to follow. This amplifies the thought that everyone has their own unique path that God has personally designed for us and we need to remain aware of the signs aka omens that he’s left for us.
I like to think that everything has a meaning. Whether it be good and signifies that you’re on the right track or bad and causes you to pivot and push through. COVID-19 can be viewed as an omen (an event regarded as a portent of good or evil) and has impacted everyone around the world in some form. What’s more moving is that it’s impacted us all in such unique ways. I know for me personally, it’s forced me to slow down, take a break and pay attention to my mental health. For companies, it showed that work can in fact be done from home. It weeded out the essential workers that had always been essential but suddenly became essential for everyone. For others, it’s forced them to spend more time with their children and spouses. More importantly, COVID-19 highlighted the racial health disparities that exist in our nation and laid the fuel for protests that are happening across the world, thanks to the flame of police brutality in the back community lighting itself on fire.
Challenge: keep an eye and ear out for the omens that God has left for you and read them, let them guide you through your next steps in life.
Hidden Gem #3: “Because I don't live in either my past or my future. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man” pg. 87
By this time in the story, Santiago is well on his way to finding his treasure. He’s traveling through the desert and has chosen to join an Englishman on his journey to find the Alchemist. The camel driver is the one who shares these words with the boy as they were trying to remain as quiet as possible with the threat of surrounding tribal wars and any sound could signal a raid which could lead to loss of life. A groan from the camel frightened the boy and the camel driver shared these words to explain to the boy why he was not frightened.
To clarify, it’s okay to be aware of the past, but don't live in it. It’s okay to plan for the future, just don't delve on it because in the instance things don't go as planned, you’ll be unhappy. This quote simply says to live in the present, is to be happy and if not for anything at all, but to be alive.
This is arguably my favorite quote in the story. I’ve often questioned my way of living, but this quote confirmed that it’s okay. I’ll share a little on my personal journey. I’ve always struggled with setting goals. At an early age, I had an understanding of how life worked and it never went as planned. So my thought was, why spend time thinking about 5 years from now when I can use today and this moment to do the best I can with what I have. All while taking advantage of opportunities that made sense for me and that I felt was the right thing to do in every inch of my body. Not truly understanding till I read this passage that I had been doing just that, living in the present and being sure that I was always putting my best foot forward.
In college, I lived on campus and juggled 3 jobs throughout the 4 years. I worked part time at CVS, part time in the library on campus and stayed with an internship. The internship varied throughout the years but I had one every year. Most of my friends and other students at the university had secured jobs early on as it’s a prestigious Accounting & Finance School. After nearly failing an accounting class, I decided to switch my major to Marketing as I found a love for creative writing that pairs well with my love for using numbers to tell stories.
The day of graduation, I did not have a job lined up and I began to question if I had made the right decision to change majors. That same day as graduation was wrapping up, I was approached by a young lady that was recruiting for a manager in training program at Abercrombie & Fitch **Omen Alert**. Now, was it the job that I believed I deserved after accumulating thousands of dollars in debt, no, BUT I understood that it had to be a part of my path as it was my only option at the moment. After a few rounds of interviewing, I got the job! Again, it wasn't my dream job but still I worked my butt off and learned everything I could about running a retail store.
After about a year, I got sick of eating in the food court and wanted something different for a career choice. Now, I have some years of full time work experience under my belt and parents that had moved to Atlanta during my sophomore year in school. With that, I told my parents that I was ready to leave Boston and wanted to live with them in Atlanta while I searched for my next opportunity.
After about 4 months of being in Atlanta and applying for countless full time marketing jobs, thinking I should be able to land something nice with my degree. I still wasn't having any luck and had to ‘dumb down’ my search. I finally received a call back for an interview as an intern, making $7 hr. Again, although it felt like a step back, it was a step forward. I got the internship, which led to a full time position and then led to a promotion.
From there, I went on to work at a local newspaper, fast forward to now and I’m working at Google. Just like Santiago, there are many stories in between and various encounters with people along the way who I now feel were placed there strategically to help me get to where I am now.
Challenge: think in the present and put your best foot forward every single time and see where it takes you.
I’ll close with this final quote that speaks for itself and can be found on page 146, “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure”. I implore you to keep fear out of your heart and mind. It’s okay to be scared sometimes but don’t let fear consume you. Remember to love through your fear, give through your fears and trust the path that God has built for you.