It’s the story of Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd who repeatedly dreams about finding a treasure and decides to search for it. He travels the Sahara, falls in love, and has to return home eventually to find riches right where he started. On his way he meets an old king aka the alchemist, and talks to the wind, the sun and the desert about finding his treasure. The whole story is about listening to your heart and following your passion. It is about learning how to tell desire from true calling and how to overcome fear.
Some say it’s also about true love not keeping you away from your dreams, but I don’t agree on that one. The book ends with Santiago heading back towards Fatima, his love, but we never find out whether she waited for him or not. Coelho risks a crappy ending here, but it’s o.k. because the story of following one’s dream is complete.
‘What’s the world’s greatest lie?’ the little boy asks.
The old man replies, ‘It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.’
Reading The Alchemist I felt connected to the whole universe. Coelho manages to talk directly to your heart and ensuring it not to be afraid. We don’t follow our passion because we are afraid of all the things that can happen on the way; but not following your passion is the true peril. You know that intellectually, and The Alchemist plants the seed right into your heart. It’s a really weird experience.
It makes you happy from within.