Where we last left off in The Alchemist, Santiago was debating going on a journey to find the treasure he dreamed of, following his meetings with a dream interpreter and wise king. He follows his dream and travels to Africa, where he is robbed of his money by a thief. Distraught, he finds a job working for a crystal merchant and makes enough money to continue on his journey, which takes him across the wide-open desert and to an oasis where he will find the love of his life, as well as the alchemist. The journey across the desert teaches him many important lessons, perhaps most importantly that of the universal language. We have all experienced the universal language – an unspoken understanding between people that exists despite a language barrier or cultural differences. But as Paulo Coelho points out, we don’t always use this language. We get so caught up with daily life that we don’t take the time to understand the language of the trees, the sky, the ocean, or even the eyes of someone else looking into ours, not saying a word. Read on for some passages around this idea and, as always, please share your thoughts and favorite passages in the comments!
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“Maybe she didn’t even remember him. He was sure that it made no difference to her on which day he appeared: for her, every day was the same, and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
“He realized: if I can learn to understand this language without words, I can learn to understand the world.”
“But, in the desert, there was only the sound of the eternal wind, and of the hoofbeats of the animals. Even the guides spoke very little to one another. ‘I’ve crossed these sands many times,’ said one of the camel drivers one night. ‘But the desert is so huge, and the horizons so distant, that they make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent.'”
“The boy was beginning to understand that intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.”
“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesman fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”
“When you know the universal language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”
Stay tuned for our next book club meeting a week from today!