The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This is a story about a boy pursuing his destiny. It got cheesy at times, but ultimately it’s a self help book. Follow your dreams and you’ll succeed. Most importantly, sometimes you have to give up what you have to get back even more.

1) “He realized that he was feeling something he had never experienced before: the desire to live in one place forever.”

If anything, I feel the opposite more and more now.

2) “The heat lasted until nightfall, and all that time he had to carry his jacket. But when he thought to complain about the burden of its weight, he remembered that, because he had the jacket, he had withstood the cold of the dawn.”

This is how I feel when I walk into a heated building in the winter. It’s possible that I sweat just as much in the winter.

3) “‘It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.'” – the old man

This book didn’t change my opinion that luck is a huge factor if your stats (ability – both hard and soft, determination, support system, etc) are within 1 std of the average of the relevant population. When applying to college, the population is the pool of applicants. At a job, it’s all your colleagues. By definition, you are very likely to be within 1 std of the average. If you’re not, you are probably at the wrong place to begin with. I’m keeping an open mind about the importance of luck, but right now this is my view.

4) “And better still to be alone with one’s books. They tell their incredible stories at the time when you want to hear them.”

Same with Netflix. And texting. And Uber. Empowering the user.

5) “‘And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.'” – the old man

The one-liner of the book. Maybe I’m in the wrong universe.

6) “‘I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I’ll have no reason to go on living.'” – the merchant

A positive spin on the hedonic treadmill. At least you’re always running.

7) “‘If good things are coming, they will be a pleasant surprise…. If bad things are, and you know in advance, you will suffer greatly before they even occur.'” – the seer

The extent of desirable fortune telling doesn’t go beyond fortune cookies.

8) “‘When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.'” – the alchemist

Well thought-out internal validation >> external validation

9) “‘That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too'” – Santiago

Are we talking about League here?

10) “‘What good is money to you if you’re going to die? It’s not often that money can save someone’s life.'” – the alchemist

Reminds me to start spending my SPG points.

The Alchemist is a quick and enjoyable read. I wouldn’t call it life-changing – as a lot of reviews suggest – unless you are lacking motivation. That said, it’s likely that someday I’ll reread this post and be inspired.

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