On a cool rainy night in December last year, I visited my friend Jason at his Burleigh Waters share house. We sat out near the pool and talked all things, travel, film making, entrepreneurship and success. He reminded me to read a book called ‘The Alchemist‘ which he had recommended earlier in the year when we had first met. He didn’t tell me much other than that it was a perfect time for me to read it, coming into the new year and with my digital nomad adventure almost here.
It was one of those moments where nothing more was needed to be said other than the recommendation itself. ‘The Alchemist‘ is the kind of book that is better to read first and talked about later. That being said, if you plan on reading the book I suggest you abandon this article now and go read it! Otherwise, allow me to wet your appetite.
“The Alchemist” is an allegorical novel which basically means the entire book is like a metaphor. I like to think of it like a parable, a spiritual text. According to The New York Times, The Alchemist is “more self-help than literature” which I would agree with. I don’t usually read novels but I did feel that I got a lot out of this one.
The core theme of the book is to follow your destiny. It’s about a boy who travels across borders and continents to find ‘his treasure’ and he meets many people along the way who happen to say very wise and profound things to him. Here are my top quotes from each of the characters Santiago (the protagonist) meets along the way;
“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised.
“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. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
The Old King:
“People learn, early in their lives, what is their reason for being,” said the old man, with a certain bitterness. “Maybe that’s why they give up on it so early, too. But that’s the way it is.”
“That’s a good luck omen,” the Englishman said, after the fat Arab had gone out. “If I could, I’d write a huge encyclopedia just about the words luck and coincidence. It’s with those words that the universal language is written.’”
The Camel Driver
“Once you get into the desert, there’s no going back,” said the camel driver. “And, when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward. The rest is up to Allah, including the danger.”
“…And God only rarely reveals the future. When he does so, it is for only one reason: it’s a future that was written so as to be altered.”
“There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey. You need to learn only one thing more.”
“What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’ “Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”
As I was re-reading the book and writing down these quotes, I discovered many more stories and quotes that are also worthy of mentioning. These parts, however, are many and scattered all throughout the book. There were simply too many to mention in this article which is why I fully recommend you read the book first.
And to my friend, Jason, thanks for the recommendation.
Until next time,
Christopher R Dodd