If you take a glance at the bookshelf in my bedroom, you will find an array of novels from thriller to adventure authors, including Dan Brown and Stephen King. Lying in bed with a nice cup of tea while reading one of King’s horror classics is my ideal end to a good day.
I have become very interested in self-care and spiritual connection as of late. So, I wanted to connect my new passion to my life-long love of reading. It was a bit odd, switching from my usual thriller genre to a spiritual tale such as The Alchemist. Although I was skeptic, Paulo Coelho’s infamous novel certainly exceeded my expectations.
The book begins with introducing readers to the main character, a shepherd boy. As he is leading his flock of sheep across the country side, he has a dream about a treasure buried within the Egyptian pyramids. At first, he brushes the vision off as nothing more than an unimportant part of his subconscious. However, once he meets a wise king, who seems to know of the dream occurring all on his own and tells the boy that it is real, he sets out on a quest to find the treasure.
His travels lead him to meet many exciting people, and he learns life lessons along the way from each.
I do not want to spoil the whole novel, as it is simply a tremendous read and I would love for each of you to read it. However, I will share one of my favorite pieces of the un-seemingly intricate plot.
At one point, the boy is traveling through the desert, trying to reach his next destination in his travels. He is speaking to his guide, a man who leads people through the dangerous desert. There is war between peoples in the desert. The boy asks the guide why he is not afraid, with the war and the threat of dying at any moment all around him. He does not understand how he can be so happy with life.
The man says, “Because 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. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment you are living right now,” (page 87).
I learned from this part of the novel that we are so busy living in irrational fear, sitting on our phones all day, or engulfed in the negativity presented by the news media that we forget that time is so precious. Right now, the present moment, is the most precious moment of our lives. The past, and the future do not currently exist. Only now.
I went through a period of time of being so afraid of death that I was paranoid and constantly depressed. This part, and many other parts of this novel, helped me break out of that negative thinking by helping me realize that death is not to be feared, and that right now is the time for enjoyment.
As I read the book over a few months time (it is a short read, but I am in college so I did not have much time to read for enjoyment), I took notes and highlighted important quotes. It is amazing how as I read, I grew as a person. It helped me break out of my depression, and it gave me lessons I will continue to practice throughout my life.
Here are a few of my favorite life lessons I drew directly from the novel.
“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” – Page 17
“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” –Page 18
“Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.”- Page 60
“…there was a language in the world that everyone understood…it was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose.”- Page 64
“Everything in life is an omen”- Page 72
“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.” –Page 76
“God reveals his secrets easily to all of his creatures.” –Page 90
“When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.” – Page 138
“We were all made by the same hand.” –Page 151
“Be aware of the place where you are brought to tears. That’s where your treasure is.” –Page 164
Those are only a small sliver of the amazing lessons within this novel. Paulo Coelho is an absolute genius, taking a simple story of a boy in search of a buried treasure, and making it into a novel that I will surely never forget. I want my friends to read this. I want my family to read this. I want everyone to read this book.
If you want to read a book that will teach you more about yourself and the world than any novel you have ever read, The Alchemist will not disappoint.