“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist insists that this philosophy rings true, and that once one becomes aware of his personal destiny, everything in the world will come together to make it happen.
Taking place on the streets of Andalusia and in the vast deserts of Egypt, Coelho’s novel is both earthly and inspiring. The Alchemist is about a young shepherd named Santiago who has a dream which overwhelms him with the feeling that he must partake in an adventure to complete his personal destiny. Soon after his vision, the shepherd encounters a king who encourages him to read the good omens that God leaves for him on his journey.
Santiago sells his flock of sheep and departs from his homeland of Andalusia to reach the pyramids of Egypt, where it is presumed that he will find his treasure. Experiencing bumps and misfortune along the way, Santiago learns the art of patience and preparedness. He takes into account the importance of each person with whom he crosses paths, and strives to learn something from everyone he encounters. On what becomes over a yearlong journey to the pyramids, he realizes that several of the acquaintances he has made resemble the king who first granted him advice when he began.
Once the shepherd reaches the Sahara Desert, the novel’s focus shifts to the fact that every living thing shares the same language of the world, and once this language is understood, anything is deemed possible. Coelho stresses that once two people realize that they both speak this language, it becomes known that everything under the sun has been written by the same hand. Since the stars, the desert and the oceans have been written by this hand, it becomes known that the universe is within the shepherd, and he has every capability he needs to seek his personal legend.
Coelho’s novel is enchanting, uplifting and thought provoking. While explaining earthly concepts in a simple manner, Coelho has created a piece of literature that delivers truly beneficial lessons to his readers while making his audience feel important and connected. After all, “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”