Living your own personal legend (A humble tribute to The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho)7 min read

by | Jan 5, 2014 | Contemplation, Happiness, Philosophy

It has been a while I have ever read any fiction for pleasure.

At least for the past 3 years I have been in St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, thanks to the enormous reading list that I am required to read for class, reading great fiction works by Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf had become more of a task rather than a means to lose yourself in the world of imagination.

Fiction is a form of art that allows us to dwell in the deepest realm of our human imagination in enriching our life experiences in the reality without living the imaginative world ourselves.

Just recently on Christmas Eve night, I had met a very attractive and interesting lady named Aletheia, who is a huge fan of fiction reading. Only at the night when we went out for blues dancing in Albuquerque, I found out that her father is, in fact, one of the fiction bestselling author who is currently residing in Santa Fe (due to the privacy, I am not mentioning his name).

Unfortunately for her that I am not a huge follower in any kind of fiction in these recent years, I was quite oblivious to any of the fiction author she was excited about. However, her passion for fiction was so great that it rekindled the fire in me to pick up a fiction to read them for pleasure again.

On April 10, 2013, thanks to Willard Carroll Smith aka Will Smith, who is one of my most respectable celebrities in the entertainment industry, I had bought a book named The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho that was highly recommended by him when he was interviewed by Travis Smiley. Due to the immediate duties and obligations, I had to deal with as a college student and as a student manager in Varsity International, I failed to get myself into the right mindset to read that book.

Just this past week, I already had a strong desire to pick up that book again. And thanks to Aletheia’s infinite passion for fiction, I finally sat myself down to read that book. In 3 hours, I was totally immersed in Coelho’s phenomenal description about the beauty of life through Santiago’s adventure pursuing his Personal Legend. Here, I shall dedicate my next few blog posts as a tribute to Paulo Coelho’s life-enchanting work that has been a huge impact on me.


“Why do you tend a flock of sheep?”

“Because I like to travel.”

The old man pointed to a baker standing in his shop window at one corner of the plaza. “when he was a child, that man wanted to travel, too. But he decided first to buy his bakery and put some money aside. When he’s an old man, he’s going to spend a month in Africa. He never realized that people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

“He should have decided to become a shepherd,” the boy said.

“Well, he thought about that,” the old man said. “But bakers are more important people than shepherds. Bakers have homes, while shepherds sleep out in the open. Parents would rather see their children marry bakers than shepherds.

The boy felt a pang in his heart, thinking about the merchant’s daughter. There was surely a baker in her town.

The old man continued, “In the long run, what people think about shepherds and bakers becomes more important for them than their own Personal Legend.”

The old man leafed through the book and fell to reading a page he came to. The boy waited, and then interrupted the old man just as he himself had been interrupted. “Why are you telling me all this?”

“Because you are trying to realize your Personal Legend. And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.”

[…] (The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho, pg. 22 – pg. 23)

This is the part where it struck me the most. The baker chose to be a baker not because his utmost desire is to bake and serve people around him by means of the bakery.

He became a baker due to the common notion of his time to save money and to be seen as a good candidate for marriage. Instead of looking for the best path to live his Personal Legend, he gave it up due to immediate challenges and social obligations.

Consequently, the baker ended up becoming a baker for the rest of his life and never left his duty post. Hence, he never even had an opportunity to experience what he might like about traveling. Traveling might not be his Personal Legend but it was definitely something that he genuinely desires for himself.

Instead of taking actions that would lead him towards his desire, he gave it all up because he is afraid to lose the comfort zone he had: a baker who earns money with a good reputation to be a good husband. He has chosen well for his own life rather than great.

How many of us are the baker in disguise in our lives?

How many opportunities have we given up because of fear of failure, fear of missing out and fear of the unknown for the path that we know we have to take to be great?

Are you taking any step every day striving towards your Personal Legend or are you lying to yourself that you will never reach anywhere close to the life that you truly desire for yourself?

Ask yourself now, “What kind of life do you really want to live?” Don’t worry about how to get there, as Paulo Coelho says, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

“Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.” ~ Self Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson

For those who have already read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, if the book or my post has made a positive impact in your life, why don’t you share it to your friends who you think might enjoy it?

You never know what kind of impact you could have in their lives.

Sharing this post with them would be a good start! ^^

Disclaimer: This post does not claim to fully explain the philosophy behind Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist but an article for the sake of its author’s mean to share his thoughts and to receive more contribution for those who are about living their greatest version of life. For those who are interested in getting them a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, click here.

The book is an international bestseller. According to AFP, it has sold more than 30 million copies in 56 different languages, becoming one of the best-selling books in history and setting the Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author.

If you enjoy reading this post, share it with your friend and family.

And again, don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment box below! ~