The Alchemist

by: Paulo Coelho

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
2. “…every blessing ignored becomes a curse. I don't want anything else in life. But you are forcing me to look at wealth and at horizons that I have never known. Now that I have seen them, and now that I see how immense my possibilities are, I'm going to feel worse than I did before you arrived. Because I know the things I should be able to accomplish, and I don't want to do so.”

The crystal merchant says these words to Santiago as Santiago prepares to leave Tangier after an extremely successful year working at the crystal shop. The crystal merchant expresses a regret common among several ancillary characters in The Alchemist, such as the baker and Santiago’s father. He knows that he has not achieved all he can in life and feels depressed as a result. The crystal merchant serves as a warning to Santiago that those who ignore their Personal Legends in favor of settling into material comforts always feel haunted by their untapped potential. This idea recurs throughout the book, and the complacency that the crystal merchant represents serves as a near constant danger for Santiago. Santiago nearly goes back to Spain after leaving Tangier, for instance, and he hesitates to leave the Al-Fayoum oasis for the pyramids because he already has Fatima and some wealth there.

The characters that guide Santiago, most notably the alchemist, constantly warn him against settling for what he has. The alchemist, for instance, describes how Santiago’s life would unfold if he remained at the oasis rather than live out his Personal Legend. Santiago and Fatima would be happy for some time, but gradually Santiago would begin to regret not seeking out his Personal Legend, while Fatima would feel that she caused Santiago to abandon his dreams. Eventually, Santiago would no longer be able to read omens, and he would ultimately lose touch with the Soul of the World. The lesson set forth in the quotation and this subsequent example essentially says that a person can only feel truly fulfilled by pursuing his or her Personal Legend.