Skip to content

The Alchemist

This is the second time that I have read The Alchemist. I read it for the first time the summer after my sophomore year of college; my copy was handed down to me on May Day from a graduating senior (a part of one of our many traditions here at Bryn Mawr). I honestly don’t remember what I thought of it the first time I read it. I did however, have misgivings about reading for the second time. I remembered The Alchemist as something quite different from what I found it to be this time around.

Here are my important quotes and themes:

“What is a personal calling? It is God’s blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend” (vi).

“We do not realize that those who genuinely wish us well want us to be happy and are prepared to accompany us on that journey” (vi).

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times” (vii).

“We have to be prepared for change, he thought…” (8).

“It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That is the world’s greatest lie” (18).

“It is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their personal legend is” (21).
This quote is really interesting to me. I feel like I have definitely lost track of my personal legend. In all honesty I’m not sure if I did ever know what it was. From about fifth grade until freshman year of high school my only goal in life was to become a nun. I’m not Catholic and I don’t believe I was very religious at the time that I had this deep longing, but it was something I really wanted to do. How do you know if something is your personal legend?

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one” (22).

“…every day was the same, and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day the sun rises” (27).
I live my life like this everyday. Most days are the same to me because I don’t let myself enjoy the present. This is something I really want to work on.

“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon” (32).

“As he mused about these things, he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure” (42).
Anne and I spoke at length about this during our discussion of Life of Pi on Wednesday. We have the ability to tell our own stories; we can shape the narrative into a happy or sad tale. It is all about choice!

“Today I understand something I didn’t see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse” (58).

“I can always go back to being a shepherd, the boy thought. I learned how to care for sheep, and I haven”t forgotten how that’s done. But maybe I’ll never have another chance to get to the Pyramids in Egypt” (64).

“…making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision” (68).

“…people need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want” (76).

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man” (85).
A mindset I hope to master.

“The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better” (103).

“Life attracts life” (117).

“You must understand that love never keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love… the love that speaks the Language of the World” (120).

“‘There is only one way to learn,’ the alchemist answered. ‘It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey” (125).

“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow” (129).

“Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place” (131).

“When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed” (134).

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure” (141).
I have an intense fear of failure and I know this fear has shaped many of the decisions that I have made in my life.

The Alchemist gave me a lot of inspiration. I feel like Hector and The Alchemist came at the perfect time for me in this semester. The weeks that I spent reading these books were really tough and the lessons that I learned from them helped me to get through that time.

Posted in Alexandra Funk.

Tagged with .