Reading Paulo Coelho

Español: Paulo Coelho (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading Paulo Coelho’s prose is a privilege. The same privilege and gratitude one feels in presence of truly inspiring art; a painting that opens our vision to different shapes, a music that takes us on a new journey. With his words Paulo invites us to search and find our souls. Our own Personal Legends. He opens the door gently, so that we may come with peace and light.

It is of that door I wish to speak today, in hope that more may choose to come through.

When I read ‘The Alchemist‘ for the first time, a memory of another book I read long time ago when I was just a young girl, were immediately awoken. ‘The Little Prince‘ by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I later learned that some other people thought the same. It is easy to think that; both books are simple and short works, and both are exquisite. However, it was only after I read ‘The Alchemist’ for the second time, I found the magical door. Wide open to all of us traveling, stumbling and tiring on the roads, through the valleys and across the deserts of life.

The story is told by Santiago. He is an Andalusian shepherd who loves his flock of sheep, travelling through his native land and thinks of a merchant daughter who lives in one of the villages he passes through with his sheep; … ‘and he knew that shepherds, like seamen and like traveling salesman, always found a town where there was someone who could make them forget the joys of carefree wandering …

‘He owned a jacket, a book, that he could trade for another, and a flock of sheep.’

But Santiago had a recurring dream. He dreamed about finding a treasure in the Pyramids of Egypt. The dream caused him to question his life for the first time; ‘the only things that concerned the sheep were food and water. As long as the boy knew how to find the best pastures in Andalusia, they would be his friends.‘ He also remembered that; ‘ever since he had been a child, he had wanted to know the world …’

Santiago asked a Gypsy woman to interpret his dreams. She told him that his dream is difficult because; ‘It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them …’

While he was rather disappointed with the Gypsy woman, he met an old man, who claimed to be the king of Salem and who told him that the book he was reading ‘describes people’s inability to choose their own Personal Legends.’ The king of Salem explained to Santiago what the Personal Legend is; ‘It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.’

With courage and determination, Santiago sells his sheep and travels to Africa. On his journey a thief steals all his money, and he works in a crystal shop for a year, hoping to save enough to return to Andalusia and buy another flock of sheep. However, he learns some important lessons from the owner of the crystal shop and instead of returning to Andalusia, he sets on a journey across the desert towards the Pyramids of Egypt.  While on a desert caravan, he meets an Englishman relentlessly searching for secrets of alchemy, and falls in love with a young woman when in the desert oasis. Falling in love made Santiago thing that he has found his treasures. But then the most extraordinary thing happens, and the greatest test of all is undertaken. Because love, true love never prevents one from finding his own Personal Legend.

Santiago did find his treasures because he realized his Personal Legend. He followed it not only when it was hard, when all seemed lost, but also when the oasis felt comfortable and safe enough. He could have stayed in the oasis, or he could have fulfilled his destiny. We all have the same choice … ‘because there is one great truth on this planet; whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something; it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.

While by now the book has been translated into more than 60 languages and has sold more than twenty million copies, when asked ‘What is the secret behind such a huge success?’ Paolo Coelho simply answered; ‘the only honest response is: I don’t know. All I know is that, like Santiago the shepherd boy, we all need to be aware of our personal calling’.

Do you know your personal calling?


Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

17 thoughts on “Reading Paulo Coelho”

  1. I feel that one of the most attracting part of the story is about the merchant who did not go to the Mecca. I wrote about it twice, and I always say, fear is our greatest enemy. There are a lot of aspects that is not as straight forward as it is. Often, like the Shepherd who travel to Egypt and found that the most precious thing has been around him. Here, fear is one factor, dream that can shift, when eventually we found our soul, and realised later what is most important to us in life. Often when we were young, we were brave to pursue our dream, and without or with less wisdom in life. However, in a perfect world, we have the wisdom, and we know our dream, and we pursue them, which is a happy ending. But, the growth of inner soul, through real life experiences, and often, some of them come as a surprise, for good and for bad. I like Alchemist, what the book has not told, is equally as much as what the book has told. Beautiful story!


  2. Santiago learned to listen to his heart. It’s an important life lesson I have been presented with many times. My favorite quote is this one:
    “We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”
    ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


    1. Thank you very much for reading and commenting. The Alchemist is one those books that one wish to memorize it entirely so to never lose even the smallest part of it. We are indeed just traveles and have but our hearts to listen … it is the simplest thing, it is the hardest thing!

      Many thanks,


  3. LOOOOVe this post and even timethiefs quote above was gorgeous. How you write and bring this story to us is very poetic and enticing. I’m going to buy and read it when I have my next holiday (as I have quite a few too many books on the go)Thanks


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