7 Quotes from The Alchemist to Remember

Clickbait title, amirite? Do you know that feeling when you go through all the old notes, memos, and junk on your iPhone Notes app, computer desktop, real-life desktop and you find very interesting stuff, especially when you only do these semi-annual purges about once-ish a year (hey, it’s a new year, so tabula rasa, ya kno?)

Anyways, a good friend of mine let me borrow The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho several months ago and while reading it (in the span of about 2 days) I decided to take notes on my phone since I felt bad about highlighting a book that wasn’t mine or sticky-noting it to death whenever I came across a cool quote. Keep in mind, I had no idea what this book was about at all or clue that it was such a widely renowned book. Also, these are quotes that stood out to me immediately as I was reading; I didn’t resort to searching up “Top (insert arbitrary number here) quotes from The Alchemist to live by” on Google. I’ve got to say, Me-from-7-months-ago, you have a keen observation and you took down some sweet notes :)

1. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should live their lives, but none about his or her own.

A lot of my peers comment that I’m “on top of my shit” from time to time, but let me be honest: I still have no idea wtf I’m doing half the time. To quote Philip Wang from his 2016 UCSD Commencement Speech: “No one here knows what they’re doing. Everyone is fronting” — I just used a quote to explain another quote, deal with it. We’re so quick to say “ you’re great with kids so you’d be a great teacher!” or “I could totally see you as a graphic designer” and so on and so forth replacing each career with another word for each of our friends and family. We’re never quite 100% about what our own future self will be, however. We literally live our whole lives trying to figure out how to live our lives. Fascinating.

2. …at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.

This one was a difficult one to wrap my head around, but the more I reflect on it, the more it makes sense. Think about it, “fate” is just a word, a concept made up by people to describe finality. We feel comforted when we let loose of the reins of our life and “leave it all up to fate.” This could be problematic because you stop being conscious of your actions and you simply stop trying. Strike-that-reverse-it: instead of letting your life be controlled by fate, change your name to Fate and control life yourself!

3. To realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one.

A lot of these quotes are quite similar. I guess a similar theme kept sticking out to me: do you, boo-boo.

4. If you concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.

Or woman. Or whatever you identify as. Inclusivity. I’d like to add that it’s okay to dream big from time to time, spend some moments in La La Land with your head in the stars, find some inspiration, and set your goals for the future as well. Just don’t fixate yourself too much on “what if” but rather insert-Nike-slogan-here.

5. Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse that 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.

First part: affective forecasting for you psychology geeks. Basically, we suck at predicting the future (unless you’re so Raven) and we especially suck at predicting our emotions. Second part: a little spiritual-esque and mumbo-jumbo-ish, but be passionate about what you do and truly go for it. It’s like that old hackneyed phrase: time flies when you’re having fun. And if you pursue something and you discover you’re not passionate about it, CONGRATS! You can check that off your “Things I’m Not Actually Passionate About or Willing to Commit To” List and you’re just that step closer to reaching your Personal Legend, goal, encounter with God and with eternity, end result, finale, whatever you want to call it.

6. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.

Love others, love yourself. Love makes the world better.

7. Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.

This stuck out to me mainly because I had to read it twice, and surely I read it over again a third time (and a fourth, fifth, sixth time) to make sure I comprehended what it meant. Honestly, the more you read it, the more complicated your definition will be. Basically, some things happen only once and some things happen more than once. As for me, I take this proverb as a reminder to deeply cherish every moment of life, especially those “once-in-a-lifetime” moments like accomplishing a milestone, falling in love, or finding a new friend or family member.

Overall, The Alchemist is chock-full of inspirational, self-growth passages about achieving your true purpose, pursuing your Personal Legend, and overcoming obstacles on your life journey. It’s definitely a must-read for a fan of self-growth, figuring out the meaning of life, books, and plots that take place in a desert setting.