In efforts to fulfill my “read more” 2019 New Year’s Resolution, I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Due to a lyrical suggestion by one of my favorite musicians, I purchased an old looking new copy of this renowned book. With little to no expectations of the story that was able to unfold, I began reading. At times I found myself re-reading passages because of the rich meaning behind each excerpt. Just when I thought I processed what the author was trying to convey, I was surprised to learn another meaning behind each omen or quote.
While the book is an entire wealth of knowledge, the message throughout is consistent. The message resonated with me on multiple levels. As a graduate student, a runner, and a dreamer, I felt for the boy who traveled to follow his heart’s dreams. The boy became a simple shepherd so he could see the world. He learns to care for his sheep and follow his instincts when protecting them. Throughout the story, the boy chances his simple life to fulfill his dreams to travel. He meets a wise king who refers to his dreams of travel and his heart’s desires as his “Personal Legend.” The king encourages the boy to listen to the omens and follow his heart as he pursues his dreams across the desert. Along his journey, the boy overcomes many different trials and challenges. In hopes you read the book; I am not going to spoil the plot.
After reading this, I began to think more about our own Personal Legends. I do not plan on searching for treasure by the pyramids, but I do plan on following my dreams. Concepts throughout the book seemed to be distant, but so close. I mean, what do we really have in common with a shepherd boy who joins a caravan across a desert? I can answer that, not a lot. However, when you look at the metaphors, you hope you have something in common with the simple shepherd. He cashed in his life and decided to follow the advice of a gypsy and old king he met in a market. After selling all his sheep, he encountered problem after problem but continued to make his way towards his Personal Legend. The story was not set over a short amount of time, it progressed through the boy’s life; the boy’s journey took him years to complete. We hope to have the insight and vision the shepherd boy has as he uses his resilient spirit to follow his passion.
The more you learn about the shepherd, the more you hope you are like him. Firstly, if you have ever interacted with sheep for an extended period, you would know how much patience this boy has. The boy also has a connection with his soul and his heart’s desires; I feel like we all strive to have this. Even in the lowest points, he was able to find the voice of his heart. No matter how far away from home he got, he was always able to ground himself. By the end of the novel, it felt like the boy’s heart was one of the characters. This is true in our lives. No matter where your path takes you, you must check in with your heart. This is not always easy to do, because sometimes your heart is silent. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, Joan of Arc, “I am not afraid, I was born to do this.” This quote is concise and bold. Just like the shepherd, Joan of Arc understood her Personal Legend. While we can all worry and dwell on shortcomings, why are we not looking forward to what our Personal Legend entails? Why are we not facing the world and pursuing our own fate with the resilience of the simple shepherd boy, or like the courage of Joan of Arc?
“When you’re on a journey to fulfill your Personal Legend, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it.”The Alchemist
My takeaway points from The Alchemist:
- It might not seem like a forward step right away, but in the end, you get to where you need to be.
- You can do all the “right” things while chasing your hearts desires and still end up broken and cheated along the way. While at that moment, the broken and cheated parts of you do not see it, they are what is helping you reach your ‘personal legend.’
- The whole world might not know your Personal Legend, but the world is involved in making it happen.
- I believe that everything happens for a reason. Even if a ‘yes’ seems like it would be helpful, a ‘no’ can be just as helpful. Someone helping you on your quest for your Personal Legend might be just as beneficial as someone’s lack of support. Do not let the support (or lack thereof) discourage you in the wrong direction. Take what is given and appreciate it because it all happens for a reason, no matter how difficult that reason might be to believe.
- Follow your dreams, even if it means taking a voyage across a desert through war territory.
- It would not be easy to leave your sheep herd behind. I get it. Logically, a shepherd back in the day would never dream of selling his flock. However, sometimes the risk outweighs the logic when following a dream. The same goes for our Personal Legends. Take a minute to think about what makes you feel alive. Take a break from the path traveled and learn to live. Live for your passion and live for your dreams.
Thanks for reading!
“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die; follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.”The Sandlot