The Alchemist

by: Paulo Coelho

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
3. “We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions or our property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”

Here, the camel driver addresses fear while he tells Santiago his life story during the trip to Al-Fayoum. Fear acts as the biggest impediment to achieving one’s Personal Legend. Santiago faces many obstacles during his journey, but he regularly feels tempted to abandon his quest when he fears losing what he has already earned. For example, Santiago initially balks at giving up his flock of sheep to Melchizedek. In Tangier, Santiago fears losing the money he earned with the crystal merchant. In the oasis, Santiago fears losing Fatima. Finally, after being captured, Santiago fears he will never be able to turn into the wind. The irony of this fear stems from the fact that Santiago earns ever greater rewards each time he abandons his fear and gives up his previous possessions.

This quotation also raises the notion that a person should have no reason to fear anything if he recognizes that he plays a role in something greater than his own life. The camel driver speaks these lines to Santiago from experience, having lost all of his possessions when a flood destroyed his orchard farm. He acknowledges, however, that the same hand that writes a person’s life story also writes the history of the world. In other words, each person’s life plays a part in the larger world around him, and the camel driver suggests that God dictates that part. This realization doesn’t prevent a person from suffering tragedies, but if the person recognizes that his tragedy serves a higher purpose, he has no reason to fear any loss. This insight becomes important to Santiago as he faces challenges later in the book, particularly as he learns to stop fearing failure and to trust in the omens he sees.