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  • Angela Duckett

The Alchemist


Brace yourself because this is not your usual book review. Wait for it…

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is very well known and universally liked by many. Within a week I heard both Will Smith and Kobe Bryant (May he rest in peace), credit this book as personally life changing. My immediate reaction was, “Ok, I’ve gotta read this book”.

If I were sum this story up in one statement I would say, “The joy is in the journey”.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the story:

A young Shepard boy named Santiago dreamed of treasure at the foot of the pyramids in Giza. His dreaming eventually lead him to embark on the long, uncertain trek to find his treasure. He encountered many people, obstacles and pit stops traveling to the destination. What he realized in the end is that the actual treasure was not at the pyramids, but the true treasure was the beautiful experiences, growth and wisdom he gained along the way.

If you look beyond this sweet story for the lessons, there are sooooo many. Here’s just a few things I gleaned:

  • When you want something, the universe (Which is God in my life) conspires to help you achieve it. This is probably one of the most famous quotes from the book.

  • Even when things don’t turn out according to plan, trust that God has a bigger plan.

  • You DO know the answers to your life questions. Stop asking others and go inward to find all the answers you need.

  • God is constantly giving you signs along your journey. Learn to see the signs and follow them.

  • Only you can clearly identify your purpose and only you know when your purpose has been fulfilled.

  • The road to purpose has pit stops, sometimes very long ones.

  • It’s easy to go back to comfort zones. It takes courage to continue forward into unknown territory.

This is only a short list of lessons to be derived from this story. I really enjoyed discovering the messages. What was even more interesting is that in our book club discussion, everyone derived different things from the book. This text has the ability to be quite personal.

Some reads are solely for entertainment and some reads are full of meaty substance. This book is the latter.

Now… what I realized while reading this book is that many of the general understandings called out are many of the necessary attributes for anyone I would date. It hit me… this book could be a potential litmus test for actual date-ability. If you don’t find this book interesting then it’s a no for us.

Thus behold The Alchemist Dating Decision Tree….

There’s a lot I can learn from this flow chart and the subsequent conversation…

  • What type of reading do you do?

  • Are you willing to read books I suggest?

  • What’s your comprehension level?

  • Are you able to grasp underlying concepts in a text?

  • Do you have dreams beyond basically surviving?

  • Have you spent much time thinking about your purpose?

To read a good book with someone and have a great discussion is extremely attractive to me. I think anyone who has spent time evaluating their life journey would find this book interesting. You may not love it, but you should be able to find some value or at least enough disdain for a great conversation.

So while I’m serious/not serious about this book as a date eliminator; I am kinda serious. I think a discussion about The Alchemist will tell you a whole lot about a person. It will reveal their drive, their belief system, their level of risk taking, their fears and desires. Most importantly a discussion about this book will reveal a person’s self-awareness. Do they seek guidance in life, spiritual and otherwise? Do they walk by faith? Are they living their life with intention or are they out here flip flopping around like a fish out of water?

Would I call The Alchemist a life changing read for me? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes.

I think the ability for this book to be life changing depends greatly on when you encounter it. For me, many of the lessons exhibited here I already knew. I’ve got great experience with things not working out according to my plan. Quite frankly, I have too many of those experiences! Life has surely taught me to quickly adjust and acknowledge that God must have a bigger plan. Another concept emphasized in the book is about “Following the Omens” as Coelho calls it. God is constantly leading us with gentle and sometimes not so gentle nudges as to which way we should go to stay on track. My life has been filled with twists and turns, ups and downs, signs and wonders. I’ve surely learned to surrender and adjust. Alas if The Alchemist were your first encounter with these concepts I can clearly see how this can be life changing experience.

It’s a great book. I can’t believe it took me so long to read it.

Regardless where you are on your journey to purpose, I recommend it, indeed.


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