“It is we who nourish the Soul of the World and it will become better or worse as we become better or worse.”
From the Alchemist
In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, the main character is a shepherd named Santiago. He is quite content as a shepherd until he has a recurring dream about a treasure. This sets him on a path of discovery of himself and the world – a path on which he learns about the importance of pursuing one’s personal legend – the treasure and his legend are intertwined.
While following his path, Santiago encounters four obstacles. Of course, these obstacles are woven into the story with some finesse but in the introduction, Coelho identifies them clearly:
- The first obstacle is negativity. As we grow into adulthood the negative noise also grows. We are told that this is not possible or that can’t be done. Our passions and personal legend may be drowned out by the noise. But you need to know, they are still there.
- The second obstacle is love. If, as adults, we still know our passions and the path we want to pursue, we may not do so for fear of disappointing those we love – those who rely on us. You need to remember that those we love well, wish us well. They will want us to realize our personal legends.
- The third is fear of failure. There is no doubt that in pursuing our personal legend we will encounter some difficulties along the way. We will stumble and at times it may look like we won’t succeed. And, when that happens we won’t be able to say, “ah well, it doesn’t really matter that much”. After all, it is a personal legend we’re talking about. But be patient. Even an indirect route can get you to your destination.
- The fourth is the guilt of success. Many who pursue their personal legend will stop just short of realizing it because, well, who are they to realize their dreams when so many they know don’t. Believe yourself worthy of your success. After all, it has not come easily. You have overcome three other obstacles to do so.
It is only natural that the story of the Alchemist is told about a solo traveler and a supporting cast of characters he meets along the way. And it is not surprising that our solo traveler, Santiago, eventually finds his treasure at home.
It is by traveling alone, that we have the time to reflect on who we are – our passions, dreams and personal legend. That we encounter people and ideas that are outside our typical social realm who help us discover treasure we didn’t know existed. That we learn that this treasure is actually at home waiting to be recognized. It is by traveling alone that we “become better and more able to nourish the soul of the world.”
I encourage you to mull on those obstacles above. Do any of them interfere with you pursuing your personal legend?