Book Review: The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who follow their dreams and those who ignore them.
But there's another dimension to this that seldom gets attention, if you don't go after your dreams, destiny and fate will take over and could leave you herding sheep or selling glassware instead of sailing the seven seas.
Fate is constantly intervening in our lives and a key theme of this book focuses on how much of our lives are under our control, and how much of our lives ends up being controlled by fate. The old king stated that the world's greatest lie is that "at some point during our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate." But this isn’t a lie and dreams, like anything else in life, have a price. Not living your dreams also has a price.
In a nutshell this is a book about how we all too easily give up on our dreams, which makes The Alchemist more self-help than literature, about how we are compelled from birth to build a personalized mythology for ourselves and how we simply cannot function without it. But the irony is that whatever meaning we find for ourselves is always by necessity going to be illusory, transparent, and ultimately meaningless.
I've never been a big fan of general feel-good aphorisms such as “follow your dreams” they don't ring true most of the time, and are highly oversimplified and do not accurately acknowledge the overall complexity of the human experience.
But is anyone ever really capable of achieving their dreams, of finding their purpose? Do people really have the potential to do what their hearts desire? Or is it a hope based in nothing? I don’t know, but I do know that in order for us to accomplish anything, or to even get through the fucking day, we have to believe that the answer is a resounding yes, otherwise we don’t stand a chance.


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