After reading just the prologue of The Alchemist, you know immediately that this is a book packed full of wisdom. The writing may come across as simple, but sometimes you don’t need a lot of words to get something meaningful across – and that is just what this book does. I found myself underlining passage after passage, each holding some little grain of wisdom that I wanted to tuck away and remember. At the start of the book we meet Santiago, a young shepherd who chose his profession, despite being able to read, because he wanted to travel. Santiago also loves his flock and leading a simple life, but is troubled by a recurring dream that he eventually embarks on a journey to uncover the meaning of.
There are many inspirational quotes from the first few parts of the book, but the one that stands out to me the most is the idea that one must be free to move and develop without remaining tied down by material possessions. This comes from a conversation Santiago has with the King of Salem, Melchizedek, who talks to him about finding his Personal Legend – what he has always wanted to accomplish – and not letting his flock or material possessions stand in his way. I relate very strongly to this. I have recurring dreams, that started in childhood, in which I am trying to grab as many of my possessions as possible because I have to leave my house for some reason or another (remember “The Burning House”?). Material things can weigh you down and become a burden. As Bob Dylan and so many others have said, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” Here are some quotes I love from the first three sections of The Alchemist – please leave your thoughts and feedback on the book so far in the comments below!
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“We are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it’s still there.”
“One’s Personal Legend is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend… whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”
“The boy felt jealous of the freedom of the wind, and saw that he could have the same freedom. There was nothing to hold him back except himself.”
“What’s the world’s greatest lie? It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”
What passage stands out the most to you from the first three sections? How are you liking the book so far?