Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved to read. About two years ago, I received a book that changed my life. Now that sounds pretty radical and a bit crazy, to be honest, but for me, it opened my eyes.
The book was called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author. By the time I had read the book, it was celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Why hadn’t I heard of it previously?
I had actually heard of the book once, the summer before I received it. I didn’t really pay any mind, as my coworkers were talking about it. One of them said that the book really changed her life, and I thought exactly what I’m sure you’re thinking now: “How can a book be so influential that it can cause a person’s life to change?” It’s a complicated question, but there’s also a complicated answer. However, before I explain how it changed my life, I’ll explain what the book is about.
The Alchemist, according to the front inside cover’s description, is described as follows:
“Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring 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 near 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 in his path. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure 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.”
I think that’s a pretty concise, accurate description of the book, honestly. The only thing I wish they had included is the Personal Legend. In the book, they keep referencing something called the Personal Legend, and basically, it’s the dream you have always wanted to accomplish. When they are young, everyone knows what their Personal Legends are. For example, up until a few months ago, I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer at Walt Disney World in Florida. I spent almost six months as an intern at Disney World (I wasn’t doing graphic design, however), and I found that it wasn’t what I’d really wanted. Now I know that I want to be a graphic designer here in Des Moines, Iowa. I’ve finally figured out who I am and where home will always be.
So now you’ve heard a little about how the book has changed my life. I believe completely in the Personal Legend, and I am following my dreams. Obviously, it has taken me far and wide, but the universe has always guided me in the direction that I need to go. One of the most relevant and one of my most favorite quotes from the book says, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” How true it was. Whenever I was in a tight financial situation with school, I would worry and work, and the money always seemed to find me. It was always hard, because it wasn’t ever enough to cover everything, but it was enough to get by. When I applied for the Disney College Program, I also believe the universe knew how badly I had wanted to experience the College Program, and after all the interviews and waiting, I had been accepted to live my dream.
The Alchemist has affected my thoughts and beliefs so much that before I left Florida last month, I got a tattoo in honor of the book. It is definitely my favorite tattoo, and it’s now only about a month old. People often ask me what it means, and it’s difficult to tell them. I want to tell them the whole story about Santiago, the Personal Legend, and the treasure, and I also want to tell them about true love, destiny, maktub, and why the word is written in both the English and the Arabic script. Usually, I tell them that the tattoo is based on my favorite book, and I also tell them that the word loosely translates to “fate” or “destiny.” The translation is correct, but they would never truly understand why I feel so deeply about fate, when I found it to be a myth earlier in life. The Alchemist has definitely changed my perspective on a lot of things.
I don’t want to give too much away, but if you’re interested in quests and spirituality, this is a great read. It doesn’t focus a lot on spirituality, but I think there’s a connection. It also makes you think, and I believe it was meant to be philosophical, but general enough that everyone can relate to it. The Alchemist is just a good book all around, in my opinion. If you’re interested in reading it, you can always purchase or rent it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Half Priced Books.
If you have any other book suggestions, feel free to comment on this post or drop me a line by going to the Connect With Me page of the site.