Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho has written an excellent book on following your dreams and realizing your Personal Legend. It is called "The Alchemist". In the excerpt below, the boy Santiago, who is the hero of the story, is helping an Englishman to find the Alchemist.


Another man appeared. He was older, and was carrying a small bucket. The boy repeated his question.

“Why do you want to find that sort of person?” the Arab asked.

“Because my friend here has traveled for many months in order to meet with him,” the boy said.

“If such a man is here at the oasis, he must be the very powerful one,” said the old man after thinking for a few moments. “Not even the tribal chieftains are able to see him when they want to. Only when he consents.

“Wait for the end of the war. Then leave with the caravan. Don’t try to enter into the life of the oasis,” he said, and walked away.

But the Englishman was exultant. They were on the right track.

Finally, a young woman approached who was not dressed in black. She had a vessel on her shoulder, and her head was covered by a veil, but her face was uncovered. The boy approached her to ask about the alchemist.

At that moment, it seemed to him that time stood still, and the Soul of the World surged within him. When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were poised between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love.

Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. Something that exerted the same force whenever two pairs of eyes met, as had theirs here at the well. She smiled, and that was certainly an omen — the omen he had been awaiting, without even knowing he was, for all his life. The omen he had sought to find with his sheep and in his books, in the crystals and in the silence of the desert.

It was the pure Language of the World. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels through endless time. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. He was more certain of it than of anything in the world.

He had been told by his parents and grandparents that he must fall in love and really know a person before becoming committed. But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language. Because, when you know that 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.

Maktub, thought the boy.

The Englishman shook the boy: “Come on, ask her!”

The boy stepped closer to the girl, and when she smiled, he did the same.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Fatima,” the girl said, averting her eyes.

“That’s what some women in my country are called.”

“It’s the name of the Prophet’s daughter,” Fatima said. “The invaders carried the name everywhere.” The beautiful girl spoke of the invaders with pride.

The Englishman prodded him, and the boy asked her about the man who cured people’s illnesses.

“That’s the man who knows all the secrets of the world,” she said. “He communicates with the genies of the desert.”

The genies were the spirits of good and evil. And the girl pointed to the south, indicating that it was there the strange man lived. Then she filled her vessel with water and left.

The Englishman vanished, too, gone to find the alchemist. And the boy sat there by the well for a long time, remembering that one day in Tarifa the levanter had brought to him the perfume of that woman, and realizing that he had loved her before he even knew she existed. He knew that his love for her would enable him to discover every treasure in the world.

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