The Alchemist

by: Paulo Coelho

Personal Legends

Quotes Personal Legends
But in his heart he knew that it did matter. And he knew that shepherds, like seamen and like traveling salesmen, always found a town where there was someone who could make them forget the joys of carefree wandering.

As Santiago muses about the Moorish girl he has met, he makes the first of many connections between his own Personal Legend, or destiny, and that of many others. Santiago recognizes that his unique narrative follows a pattern he has seen before in the lives of itinerant workers. He draws the conclusion that the love of another can outweigh the loss of freedom. Santiago derives support from placing the personal into a universal context.

It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting, he thought, as he looked again at the position of the sun, and hurried his pace.

Santiago reflects on what it means to travel and discover. Early in the novel, wanderlust combined with his attraction to the merchant’s daughter begin to take hold of his soul. His Personal Legend is at the point of departure. The sun’s course in the sky marks the passage of time, and Santiago feels the anxious anticipation of arriving at his destination.

If someone isn't what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

Santiago has just identified his mission with the help of the old Gypsy woman interpreting his dream. He muses about how people judge others’ choices in life, recalling the opposition he experienced in the seminary. The people who were part of his life wanted him to change and he compared their ideas for him with their own choices. He resisted such pressure by leaving the settled seminary existence and choosing an itinerant lifestyle.

It's what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.

Melchizedek explains the concept of the Personal Legend to Santiago. The wisdom he shares with Santiago about having a Personal Legend frames one of the major themes of the text. According to Melchizedek, a person’s Personal Legend manifests as a unique desire that becomes obvious to a person in their youth. Melchizedek further explains that sadly, over time, people become convinced they will never realize their Personal Legends.

The closer one gets to realizing his Personal Legend, the more that Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being, thought the boy.

Santiago begins to see how a person’s purpose for living has a place in the broader scheme of life. While traveling with the caravan, the Englishman disproves to Santiago the concept of coincidence. This new perspective leads Santiago to think about the mysterious chain of events that has brought him here: his sheep, his recurring dream, the king, the thief, the crystal merchant, and now the caravan.

Unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them — the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.

As Santiago’s heart speaks to him while crossing the desert, he understands that people want to pass their legacy to children. As they age, life leads them off their chosen paths, and they forget what they set out to achieve or discover when young. They forget about their Personal Legends. A person can avoid such a sad and unfortunate ending by staying true to a personal vision. The path to true happiness and fulfillment lies through an understanding of personal mission.