Stories & Reflections
With 65 million (* update from the blog: over 80 mio copies) copies sold and translated close to 80 languages, the Alchemist remains to be seen, one of the best selling books in history. Written in 1988 by Paulo Coelho, the story is an allegory about a young shepherd in search of his treasure. According to Coelho, he wrote this profound spiritual novel in just 2 weeks. When asked, he explained that he was able to write at this pace because the story was “already written in [his] soul.”
I chance upon this novel every few years and every time I read it, I glean something different from it. Captivating and stupendously uplifting, no book list is complete without this gem. And let me share some of the more endearing quotes from the book which is reason alone for you to pick it up for your reading list.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
When we want something in life, then it’s our responsibility to get up and do something about it. Too often in life, we let fate decide our day to day actions and hope all too much that things will work out in the end. Here’s a small excerpt from the book which captures the quintessence of this little thought.
“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the little boy asks. The old man replies, “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.
But who knows? If we do our part, maybe the universe does so too?
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
If we get everything we want in life, the minute we want it, then what is the point? Maybe some things aren’t meant to come to fruition no matter how hard one tries. But hey? Isn’t that what makes it all the more interesting and worth trying for. The possibility that it can come true?
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
This made me reminisce about a poem I came across a few years back. This magical little piece reminds us to appreciate and not take granted, the simple things we have in life and find joy and wonder in the so-called ordinary.
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.” — William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents
“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked.
“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Popularized in pop culture by the Harry Potter series. In the book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J. K. Rowling, it is written that the inscription on the tombstone of Ariana Dumbledore reads
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.
The most basic interpretation of this would be that the things that are truly treasures, things that have true value are the things you love: family, friends, etc.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
A reminder to keep pushing forward no matter what adversities we face. Because at the end of the day, we only miss the shots we don’t take. So keep dreaming and keep trying until your goals become a reality.
“Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Take this opportunity to cultivate gratitude for all the blessings in your life. We may not realize it but the lives we lead today are distant dreams for many. And taking it for granted is the last thing we ought to be doing in such dire times.
“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. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Coelho, in this beautiful passage, urges us to be more mindful of the present. How we spend our days is quite frankly, how we spend our lives and the quality of our lives does depend on the quality of our days. If happiness is what we’ve been striving for all along, then there isn’t a more helpful, insightful answer than this.
Life goes by in the blink of an eye. And trust me, you will not regret picking up this masterpiece.