Today, I am going to talk about the Alchemist, my most favorite book by Paulo Coelho. The story that Paulo Coelho tells us in this book is simple in style, yet contains powerful emotions. The alchemist tells the story of a young shepherd named Santiago who is able to find treasure beyond his wildest dreams. Along the way, he learns to listen to his own heart instead of blindly following people. He realizes the power of dreaming and that his dreams are not just his own but part of the soul of the universe. He starts to follow his dreams and learns that it's in pursuing these dreams to the best of one's ability, that one is most truly alive.
This story starts in a small village in Spain. A shepherd boy named Santiago is headed to a town where he met a girl the year before, hoping he can marry her. While camping out in an abandoned church with his sheep, Santiago has a recurring dream of a great treasure. Then he explains it to a gypsy woman. She interprets it, saying that he must go to the pyramids in Egypt to find a hidden treasure. Santiago is uncertain. His parents want him to become a priest. He is hesitant about following his dream and leaving his life because he kinda likes the life of a shepherd.
Next, Santiago meets a mysterious old man who seems able to read his mind. He is a strange wise man who claims he is a king from a far-off land. He tells Santiago that everyone has a dream when they are young. It's what you have always wanted to accomplish. He tells him that he must follow his dreams and listen to omens in order to find his treasure. He also gives him two magic stones that will help him decide what to do when he can't seem to find answers.
The next day, Santiago sells his sheep and heads to Africa to follow his dream. Shortly after he arrives there, a thief steals all of his money by telling him that he could take him to pyramids. Unable to speak a single word of Arabic, at first, Santiago thinks about giving up and turning around. But then he remembers what the wise man told him about following his dreams. He decides to get a job at a local crystal shop.
While working there, the crystal merchant tells him that he also used to have a personal dream himself, making a pilgrimage to Mecca. But he gave up on it. After working there for a year, he now has enough money to buy a new flock of sheep. He doesn't know what should he do? Should he return home and buy more sheep? Or should he cross the vast Sahara in pursuit of the hidden treasure of his dream? At the last moment, Santiago decides to risk it all and join a caravan to Egypt.
Once in Caravan, Santiago meets an Englishman who has come all the way to Africa to meet a famous alchemist. He hopes to learn the secret of alchemy, how to turn any metal to gold. As they travel through the desert, the Englishman tells Santiago about his own personal dream. They both talk of a soul of the world to which we are all connected and of the necessity of following our heart’s true desires. Santiago, however, prefers to learn these from observing the world, While the Englishman prefers to learn it from books.
Almost to Pyramids, they hear the news of tribal wars and the caravan decides to stay in a nearby town until the wars are over. This means anywhere from weeks to years. Santiago is so close to the pyramids and unhappy about the news. In the town, Santiago meets a beautiful Arab girl named Fatima and immediately falls in love with her. He discovers that love, like the personal dream, comes directly from the soul of the world.
One day, Santiago has a vision of an upcoming attack on the town. He rushes to warn the elders of the town. Then his vision is confirmed. They offer him a position as a consular. Santiago considers staying there with Fatima, but the Alchemist finds Santiago and tells him that he will help Santiago to find his treasure. They head toward Pyramids and almost there, Santiago and the Alchemist are taken prisoners by a warning tribe. The alchemist has a solution. He tells tribesmen that Santiago is a powerful magician who can turn himself into the wind. Tribesmen are impressed and will let them go If Santiago can do it. The only problem is that Santiago has no idea what he is doing.
But being more and more acquainted with the soul of the world, and after three days of meditation, Santiago uses his knowledge of the soul of the world to ask the elements to help him. First, he asks for the dessert. Then he asks the wind. Then he asks the sun. And, finally, he asks the soul of the world. Immediately the wind whips up and Santiago disappears and reappears on the other side of the camp. This scares the Warriors, and they let Santiago and the Alchemist go on their way.
They finally arrive at a monastery where the Alchemist turns some leads into gold and divides it. Santiago takes a large amount of the gold and continues on to the Pyramids. Once there, he begins to dig where he is sure he will find the treasure. But he finds nothing there. He is ambushed by robbers. They beat him hard and take all his gold. While leaving, one of them asks Santiago, what he was doing there? Santiago replies that he had a dream of a treasure buried at the base of the Pyramids. He laughs at Santiago and says that he has had the exact same dream except that in his dream, the treasure was buried in an abandoned church in Spain and that he was not stupid enough to go and pursue it. Santiago has his answer. He realizes that the treasure was back where the whole story started.
The book ends with Santiago digging up the treasure in the church where he had his first dream. Sure enough, he finds a trunk full of gold, enough for him and Fatima to live happily for a long time.
The story of Santiago is a representation of the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts. What starts out to find a worldly treasure, turns into the discovery of the treasure found within.