Reading The Alchemist: It all started with a Podcast

I’m trying this new strategy of maximizing my time on long-distance trips or even when I’m simply waiting for a ride. Instead of listening to that Bleachers album on repeat I’ve started embracing those podcasts on my Iphone. (If you’re like me you always have that irrational fear that you’re not learning enough so podcasts are the way to go.)

I’m an active follower of Oprah’s Super Soul Sundays where a variety of spiritual pioneers share their secrets for living a fruitful life. While there are different videos available on YouTube for your pleasure, she also has a Super Soul Sunday podcast. One of these Podcasts, which I saved is called, Paulo Coelho, Part 2: Your Journey of Self-Discovery. 

In this podcast, Paulo Coelho describes how he aspired to be a writer, but his parents sent him to a mental institution since they thought he was nuts. He had a sister who was a kick-ass lawyer making bank, and so to his parents, Paulo’s risky dreams made him seem like a lunatic. If you ever thought your parents were ever crazy, think again. He also mentions his firm belief in that if you truly want something, “all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. 

The podcast even discusses how he managed to craft The Alchemist in a time-span of only two weeks, and wrote in his journal, before even writing the book, that one day he was going to write an international masterpiece. Whether you are a firm believer of hard work or even manifestation, the journey to writing the book as well as the book itself explains how every human being’s ultimate goal is to discover and pursue their personal legend. 

For those individuals who feel guilty for reaching a certain age and not accomplishing their dreams, let’s put Paulo Coelho’s story in perspective. He was the age of 40 when he first wrote the Alchemist. Even when the book was first published, only one individual had bought it. Paulo Coelho still remained hopeful and knew in his heart that the book would be a success. He knocked on the doors of another publisher, and from there the book became an international hit. Celebrities such as Madonna and Will Smith also recommended this read.

Nothing comes easy.

His story is inspirational to me, because he spent years in mental institutions, embracing a full on hippie lifestyle, and even writing song lyrics for a variety of Latin musicians, before he had his own moment to shine. Through all these life events, his intention of becoming a writer never wavered.

After listening to his interview with Oprah, I knew in a heart beat I had to go to the nearest Barnes and Nobles and pick up this novel. Call it a spiritual calling if you will. Regardless if you are in your teens, 20’s, 30’s…50’s all of us have always questioned our life’s purpose, and so in the midst of this confusion, we should all definitely pick up this book.

I’m not going to ruin the plot for anyone so I’ll state my takeaways. The novel depicts a young shepard’s quest to discover his treasure and ultimately his personal legend. The young shepard meets a king who reinforces the shepard’s previous meeting with a gypsy. The meeting states the young shepard must endure a tumultuous journey to visit the Pyramids where he will discover his personal treasure.

As the young shepard pursues his journey he is enticed by several life events and opportunities that easily can make him a victim of complacency. While there are many moments where the shepard could have easily given up his quest for pleasures such as a higher wage, business endeavors, and even love, the shepard ultimately fulfills his quest to discover his personal legend. You may read this book from a figurative sense or even if you take it literally, there were some key points we can receive from this book:

  1. It’s easier to start your “dream” and this is when you begin to feel lucky. It is more difficult as you pursue your dream and face the many obstacles. This is where the “tests” really begin. The novel calls this “beginner’s luck”.
  2. The mini treasures you receive along your quest to achieve your personal legend will seem enticing. However, the goal is not to be fooled and instead continue your journey. After acquiring your treasure, you will eventually receive the “higher wage…love” you desired. (Don’t get distracted).
  3. We all receive signs of the directions we have to go. Sometimes it takes longer to really recognize this. We often have to stumble upon the wrong path to see the right one. Trust your gut.

Like Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I would recommend purchasing the book to keep as a reminder of chasing your dreams. Sometimes it takes that physical reminder to keep us on track, rather than these thoughts floating aimlessly in our heads.

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