Thoughts on The Alchemist
I like reading books, and one thing I’ve realized I don’t do nearly well enough is process them after they are finished. Everyone has different techniques to maximize their reading experiences, and for me, one of mine is to take notes on things I want to remember while I am reading.
I read a lot of fiction in middle school, and lost my interest in reading through all of high school and the majority of my freshman year in college. Last May, as school was wrapping up, I was getting coffee with a graduating senior and he inspired me to get back into reading.
I made a commitment that I would do so once I got back home from school, which was exactly a year ago from two days ago. Between that point and now, I have read 45 books, which I am extremely proud of, and doing so has absolutely changed my life.
Moving into year #2 for myself in reading, there are some things I want to do to continue to improve my experience, and the first of those things is to write a little bit after finishing each book about what I was able to get out of it. The process of writing some things down I am hoping will help me realize things about the book that I didn’t fully grasp before.
This is the first time I’m doing this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my style, methods or the way I’m going about this change drastically, but we will see what works.
Without further ado:
Written by Paulo Coelho, I loved this book. It was recommended on Ryan Holiday’s reading list. Fiction book, about a boy that goes on a journey to find his “Personal Legend,” or purpose in life.
A lot of the ideas and thoughts mentioned in this book translate back to our own spiritual and physical journey through life, and it shares a lot of valuable ideas and thoughts about it.
One big thing mentioned in the book is this idea of Omens. I’m not sure how much I buy into it yet for everyday life, but in the book, Coelho writes about how there are all of these signs around us that are indicators of what actions we should take, who we should become and so forth. I strongly believe in a greater being, and I have had times in my life where crazy things have happened that cannot be explained. The idea of omens, though, hasn’t struck me too largely because I think I have experienced a lot of false positives in my life. Things that I believe are signs that end up not being so. Either way, it’s something I am going to be more on the lookout for.
This is the essence of the book. I had this notion before reading it that everybody has some purpose in life and a reason that they are on this planet. It’s not starting a $1 Billion company for everybody. For some, their personal legend is having 4 amazing children. For others, it’s being an amazing teacher that inspires others. For others it’s being an athlete that brings enjoyment to people across the world. I still firmly believe this.
What The Alchemist did though, was develop my view on it. First, they talk about how even inanimate objects have a Personal Legend, which I found to be an interesting perspective. Second, they discussed what it meant to fulfill or not fulfill this Personal Legend. And essentially the idea is that it is a difficult thing for anybody to do. It requires us to take risks, push ourselves, and trust in something greater than ourselves. That part I think I had etched into my mind before.
What struck me was the way in which they connected this Personal Legend to our heart. Our heart is what always speaks the real truth. And when we are beginning to give up on our dreams or follow down the wrong path, our heart aches because it knows that what we are doing is not who we really are or what we’re meant to be. If we are able to understand this message from our heart, it can substantially help us to find our path. As we avoid living our dreams and purpose, our heart aches, but an idea brought up in this book is that over time, our heart stops aching because it doesn’t want to cause us pain. So the longer that we go without living out what we are supposed to do, the harder it is to make it happen.
Everybody wants to have a strong sense of self and be happy, so when our heart is telling us that what we are doing is wrong, if we don’t have the courage to listen, then our heart might slowly stop telling us because otherwise we will constantly be sad.
At the beginning of our journey, it is easy because this greater being is trying to push us to get started, but as time goes on, it gets more difficult, and things stop going our way as much. And as we are getting extremely close, we are going to be tested in a variety of ways that will force us to use everything we have learned along our journey to succeed.
Those were some of my takeaways. The book is actually quite spiritually deep, so some of my thoughts above about what I took from the book are abstract and out there.
This also doesn’t fully touch on everything that I took out of it, but I think it’s a book I am going to come back to, relatively frequently.
That’s it for now. Enjoyed writing that, feel like I’m missing some big things (so maybe I didn’t read it as well as I could have).
Year 1, Book Review (BR) 1