The Alchemist: What's My Personal Legend?

A story I presumed focused on changing metal to gold surprisingly ignited an internal debate.

The Alchemist: What's My Personal Legend?

In the 4th grade, I spent many hours on my local public library's online system, placing a myriad of books on hold. I wanted to read everything.

  • An animal encyclopedia? I remember staring in astonishment at Australia's Cassowary
What's a Cassowary
Cassowaries are the third tallest bird in the world with an adult standing up to six feet tall. The feathers of the body are black and hair-like. The bare skin of the head and fore-neck is blue, while the rear of the neck is red. Also...they're considered the world's most deadly bird.
  • The Lord of the Rings series? I was hooked by the prologue on the history of "The One Ring"

  • Lunch Lady? I keep my signed copy from Jarrett J. Krosoczka, the graphic novel's author, on a special pedestal.

When I came across a burnt orange cover titled "The Alchemist," it was a no-brainer. I immediately put the book on hold. A week later, it was in the library with a little hold confirmation receipt sticking out. So I brought it home and read it.

Since its initial publication in Portuguese in 1988, The Alchemist has been translated into 80 languages and has sold over 65 million copies worldwide.

The narrative revolves around the journey of an Andalusian shepherd named Santiago. Santiago dreams of a treasure buried near the Egyptian pyramids and decides to pursue it, leaving his comfortable life behind. Along his journey, he meets a series of characters including an old king, an Englishman, and an alchemist, each teaching him about life, love, and the pursuit of one's "Personal Legend"—their ultimate purpose or goal in life. This concept of a Personal Legend is a central theme in the book, which brings us to the repeated word "Maktub".

After searching up the book's repeated word "Maktub," I learned that its translation was "It's all written." In 2017, I saw it as Coelho's hint at fate's unchangeable, obstinate nature. It made perfect sense—Santiago's Personal Legend would force him on a journey, even if the treasure was back at home.

"I can control my destiny, but not my fate. Destiny means there are opportunities to turn right or left, but fate is a one-way street. I believe we all have the choice as to whether we fulfil our destiny, but our fate is sealed.
" ~ Paulo Coelho

I applied the moral to justify my life's journey and all it encompassed as predetermined. I thought my destination was set on being a doctor, like my grandfather. Most things I did were to steer my destiny towards accomplishing that one, preset goal.

By random chance, I came across The Alchemist last year in my English teacher's classroom library. Unlike 6 years before, I wasn't sure of being a physician anymore. My daily schedule was now monotonous: go to school, work on homework, manage extracurricular activities, and sleep.

Even though Santiago faced numerous external obstacles—such as getting burglarized or taken captive—the majority of his conflicts were internal, much like my own. His predicament was seemingly straightforward; his existence as a shepherd was comfortable and predictable, yet he yearned for more than the daily monotony of wandering with his flock.

I finally found a resolute understanding of the treasure's location under the sycamore tree.

It is a unique journey that each of us is destined to undertake, and it is our responsibility to not only acknowledge it but to overcome our apprehensions and fervently pursue it.

Therefore, a life devoid of this pursuit is one marked by a lingering sense of dissatisfaction, despite outward appearances of contentment, and a perpetual longing for something more.

I believe that I've realized my Personal Legend: to follow my intuitions and worry about the consequences later.

In the next chapter of life, I'm unsure where I might end up. Yet, I'm sure that pursuing my Personal Legend will always keep me hungry for more but satisfied with my growth.

Based on Coelho's words, I guess my Personal Legend also entails meeting The Alchemist again.

I'm awaiting another concealed lesson to unearth.