The Alchemist

I’ve just finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  It’s a story of a journey and of all journeys.  Santiago, a shepherd, embarks on a journey to find his Personal Legend.  The Personal Legend is your story – your true story.  It is your calling.  Most people don’t pursue their Personal Legend and thus live their lives compromised.  The first example of this in the book is a baker.  The baker wants to travel and so should have been a shepherd.  However, he knew that bakers were valued more by society than shepherds and he would be more likely to be accepted as a husband as a baker.  So he became a baker and thought about traveling his whole life while his wife wondered why he was so sad.

The Personal Legend is very much a hero’s journey.  There is a call to adventure – often from an omen or sign.  There are mentors, friends & foes, and a path of trials.  At the end of the path, the greatest struggle comes, but once you get through it you are the master of two worlds.  “Every search begins with beginner’s luck.  And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”  The boy remembered an old proverb from his country.  It said that the darkest hour of the night came just before the dawn.

Do you know what your Personal Legend is?  Have you spoken to your heart to find out?  What compromises are you making that are keeping you from following that journey, from creating your legend?  It’s a courageous thing to follow the call, that’s why so few people do it.  When those people do follow their Personal Legend, they make the world a better place.  “That’s what alchemists do.  They show that, when we strive to be better than we are, everything around becomes better too.”

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4 Responses to The Alchemist

  1. Dan January 8, 2007 at 2:48 pm #

    Matt, I have a point of clarification. Is the journey a single direction in life that unifies the many elements and paths that define our experience?
    Or when you reflect upon your own history do see a series of recurring journeys composed of the various elements(mundane world, crossing the threshold, etc) that have brought you to your current destination?
    Or maybe its something entirely different?

  2. Matt Langdon January 8, 2007 at 4:21 pm #

    Life is a series of journeys. There are many calls to adventure and many thresholds to cross. For example, I had a journey that consisted of university after high school. I had one my first summer in America. I also had one long one that lasted 12 years, but there were smaller journeys within that one. I hope that explains.

  3. elizabeth March 6, 2007 at 10:36 pm #

    I am a freshman in High School and i also just finished reading The Alchamist. On the subject of Dan’s question i would have to say that The Hero’s Journey is a sequence of events and obstacles that occur leading up to what you were seeking. Now if you spent your entire life seeking just one single thing then yes i guess you could say that the journey is composed of your entire history and each part falls into a category of the Journey. But i have never met someone who has their whole life known what they want and only go after one single thing. So i guess what i would say to your question is that The Hero’s Journey is someting that is a single direction for a single purpose.

  4. Matt Langdon March 6, 2007 at 11:21 pm #

    Thanks for your comment Elizabeth. I totally agree that life is a series of journeys. Someone with a clear “mission” may be able to describe their life as a single journey, but that type of person is rare.

    Did you read The Alchemist as part of school or on your own?