On Reading ‘The Alchemist’ For The First Time

I just closed the covers of my husband’s special edition copy of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

As I did so, I was curled up on a west coast ocean front — you know, the kind of beach you’re reluctant to call a beach because there’s no sand, but it’s a waterfront either way — contemplating how I, too, could be come more . . . alchemist-y.

It’s embarrassing to think that I haven’t read a single novel by Coelho and consider myself an avid reader. There are at least half a dozen of his books strewn around my apartment at any given moment and a nagging voice whispering in my ear “pick one up!” but it wasn’t until I listened to an experimental interview between him and Tim Ferris on Ferris’ weekly podcast that I was like, “yeah. I need this guy in my life.”

And so, Maktub. Or, as the crystal merchant tells the boy in the book, ‘it is written.’

I picked up the book and closed it within three hours. Not because I was discarding it, but because it was so beautifully simple, so extraordinarily meaningful at this point in my life and so absolutely majestic that I could not — except for once — put it down.

It is a story that I wish had been read to me on my 5th birthday. And again on my 6th. And on my 7th. And so on, until the principle — that we are all a magnificent and unique manifestation of the divine — wasn’t something I needed to re-learn in my twenties, but something that I never lost knowledge of and never ceased to feel.

If you haven’t read The Alchemist, I highly recommend it. It will not take you long and your life will be better for it. In the meantime, I have pulled out some of my favorite quotations. May they inspire you this week to embark on your own Personal Legend.

People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” (24)

Don’t be impatient,” he repeated to himself. “It’s like the camel driver said: ‘eat when it’s time to eat. And move along when it’s time to move along.’” (93)

To die tomorrow [is] no worse than dying on any other day. Every day [is] there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world.” (114)

One is loved because one is loved. There is no reason needed for loving.” (128)

Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” (136)

No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.” (164)




One comment

  • Loved the book and loved your post. The latter was a great reminder, thank you.

    And don’t forget about Peedy Tot’n. Not certain what that means, but it’s the phonetic pronunciation of your first letters of your chosen quotes. It’s meaning may be shrouded, but I must refer to you by this name from now on. See you on Twitter, Peedy Tot’n. 😀

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