On my plane ride to Utah I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and found it really interesting. The book was first published 20 years ago, but I only became aware of it in the last couple of years, so sorry if all of you read this book a long time ago.
The book follows the adventures of Santiago, a Spanish shepherd who learns that his Personal Legend is to find a treasure near the pyramids. Even though he doesn’t even know where the pyramids are, he gives up everything to try to find the treasure. Along the way he meets other characters who either help him or try to harm him, but he learns something from everyone. At one points in the book Santiago has found moderate wealth and plans to give up on finding the treasure and return to being a shepherd. At the last minute he sees an omen and decides that he can always return home later, but this might be his last chance to follow his Personal Legend. Later in the book Santiago has found love and plans to give up on his treasure to stay with his love, but his love convinces him that he can return to her later, but he must continue to follow his Personal Legend now. I won’t tell you how it ends (hopefully I haven’t already given away too much) because you’ll probably enjoy the book more if you don’t know what happens. You can always wiki it if you really want to know how it ends…
The book describes a Personal Legend as being the “soul’s desire”- the thing which will make you most happy- and claims that everyone has a Personal Legend but for various reasons most people never follow their legends and find their soul’s desire. I found it interesting that Santiago was quite happy being a shepherd (he had been educated to become a priest, but decided that he would rather travel so he used his inheritance to buy a flock of sheep), but when he found out about the treasure he was willing to give up all he had to find it.
I thought the book was well written, easy to read (it took me less than 4 hours of reading!), and had some interesting concepts in it: Personal Legends, Omens, Love, and the Language of the World (that language which allows all things to communicate without needing words). It got me thinking about if I’m following my Personal Legend. I don’t think I am though since I’m not sure I know what my Personal Legend is. The book talks about needing to listen to your heart to learn what your Personal Legend is and I’d like to say I’ve followed my heart to get where I am now, but I know a lot of choices I’ve made have been with my brain and not my heart. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing though- in fact, I think a lot of people probably should use their brains more than hearts. However, part of me does think that I’m like Santiago at the begining of the book- I am happy with my flock, but perhaps there is an even greater treasure out there for me.
Has anyone out there read this book? What are your thoughts on the idea of a “Personal Legend”? If you believe they exist, do you know what yours is and are you following it?