The Alchemist by Paul0 Coelho
Book description: Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world, and this tenth anniversary edition, with a new introduction from the author, will only increase that following. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
What’s your personal legend? Are you living your dreams? What are you doing today that is getting you one step closer to fulfilling those lifelong aspirations? What goals did you accomplish when you were a child that shaped who you are today? What things do you still want to do? These are all questions that I wish we took more time out to ponder and maybe even share with friends as conversation starters. The Alchemist takes us along for Santiago’s ride through self discovery through a lighthearted fable about following through with dreams and tuning in to life’s simplicities along the way.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to truly listen to my gut. I get into this fun habit of sharing my “predictions” with my husband and close friends. A classic Hillzism is “Mark my words, insert prediction/gut feeling here”. Then when it comes to fruition, I love to recognize it. Why? Sure it may sound silly, but I wish more of us would go with our gut instinct, our inner voices. When something feels a bit off, I employ the “when in doubt, don’t” ideology. Or when the “I’m just not feelin’ it” or “I didn’t get a good vibe. I didn’t get a warm and fuzzy” sets in, I’m quick to recognize. I’ve gotten much more in tune with my inner voice which has guided me to make really sound decisions both in life, love and in friendships that I am proud of. I stick to my guns and I think those around me appreciate the stability this brings. I wish more people were better at following through, to thyne own self be true. Albeit an OCD quality, yes I do recognize this, how truly satisfying it is for me to strike something from my “ta-da” list when it’s done. Or how rewarding it is to look at my home after I’ve spent an entire day cleaning from top to bottom, yes baseboards too!, and feel a sense of pride. Why not challenge ourselves to feel that sense of accomplishment every single day and make someone else feel good??
I could relate a lot to Santiago, The Alchemist’s main character. His quest for meaning, truth, and treasures introduce him to three ‘forces’, a Gypsy, a king, and an alchemist. There was a lot of symbolism in this story, especially behind each of the three characters he meets, hence it’s position as a fable. But moreso, it made me stop and think about my life and what 3 forces, 3 experiences, 3 moments in time that changed the direction of my personal journey altogether, and for the better. I am so fortunate to have such an amazing personal network of friends that facilitate me living my dreams and always support me whatever I do, in part because they know when I say I’m going to do something, I actually DO follow through, it’s not just a pie-in-the-sky hair-brained scheme (although I’ve had those too!). There’s a funny card at Hallmark that I wish was my personal mantra and it makes me think of Santiago. The cover shows an image of two dogs, one large, one small, each with suitcases in their mouths at a train station. The inside reads “It’s not about where you’re going, but who you’re going with”. This card makes me smile every time I see it. It evokes the sense that life isn’t about checking the box, but about how the people you meet change your life in subtle or dramatic ways. I draw strength from each of my friends in different ways. My dynamic with each is unique and I love that. From the way we talk on the phone to the way we communicate in other ways, and the depth of our relationship. My life is never a dull place because I’ve got an amazing group of folks to share it with that make me a better person just for knowing each of them.
Santiago quickly discovers through his travels, the beauty and power of the “other worldly” treasures lie within. Although a bit juvenile and geared towards younger readers, I would recommend The Alcheist for a quick and light read while on travel, poolside, as a “palate cleanser” between “intense books”, or an uplifting book to share with your tween/young adult embarking on high school or college.
I’m curious to see what Fa-BOOK-ulous thinks, this is our first simultaneous read in 2010. Stay tuned for her review.
6 down, 46 to go…
On deck, unSweetined by Jodie Sweetin and Olive Kitteridge (audiobook)