Tag Archives: alchemist

Alchemist – A fascinating quote

And this quote, comes from the alchemist himself in The Alchemist:

No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.

That may indeed sound to be too strong a statement, especially for those of us who are strong believers in existentialism, but there is a clear sense of optimism (of our influence) and responsibility (of our actions) in it. The quote is when a Roman centurion goes to find Jesus and felt to be in the presences of the divine. There is a slightly related story in Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss.

Having had the privilege of visiting the holy land, I can slightly picture some of the settings, and that makes these two stories so much more interesting for me.

“Everyday was there to be lived..” – Alchemist

Another wonderful quote from the Alchemist:

Every day was there to be lived or to mark one’s departure from this world. … He had lived every one of his days intensely since he had left home so long ago.  If he died tomorrow, he would already have seen more than other shepherds, and he was proud of that.

Reminds me of Dasvidaniya, even though Dasvidaniya was more about catching up.

3 Selected Quotes from “The Alchemist”

"The Alchemist" by Paulo CoelhoAs a book that has sold alzillion copies, has been translated into so many languages, and has been read by so many people, The Alchemist needs no formal review.  Instead, here are 3 quotes from the book, that are phenomenal. While no replacement for reading the book, the quotes do convey what I as a reader took away from the book.

Quote 1: Part I, Page 39 of paperback version.

I’m going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me.  I’m going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine.  And I’m going to hold on to what little I have, because I’m too insignificant to conquer the world.

These are Santiago’s feelings right after being robbed of all his  belongings.  The three fears that Santiago has are quite distinct: (i) fear of becoming apprehensive of strangers, (ii) fear of hatred of successful people, (iii) fear of becoming petty and miserly.

Readers identify with different aspects of the protagonist, and this fear is the aspect that I identify with the most.  I certainly hope that small or big setbacks will not set me back. Whether this is the ideal or my current self may be irrelevant.

Quote 2: Part II, Page 64.

The hills of Andalusia were only two hours away, but there was an entire desert between him and the Pyramids.  Yet the boy felt that there was another way to regard this situation: he was actually two hours closer to his treasure … the fact that the two hours had stretched into an entire year didn’t matter.

What could be more literary way of articulating the economic theory of sunk cost?  In the preface, Coelho mentions 4 major obstacles in realizing your destiny: (i) the notion of impossibility, (ii) the shackles of love, (iii) fear of defeats and (iv) the fear of success.  By the time we overcome some of these obstacles, we can think – Oh, but we have already lost too much time. Or, we can think: this is where we are, now what?

Quote 3: Part II, Page 68.

But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things.  When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.

Each decision is the starting point of a new journey – a fork in the definition of a new parallel universe – a realization of our potential.  Whether we realize our potential positively or negatively is subject to interprCastle Falletation.  Similarly, decisions themselves are rarely right or wrong – mostly it is just our interpretation of the result of the decision that was taken, and our estimate of the road not taken.  How can we compare a road taken, with all its rewards and its pitfalls that we experienced concretely, with a road that we never took and of which cannot reasonably guess rewards and travails?  Yet, we do it all the time.

And how about the indecisive ones amongst us?  Not making a decision is akin to making a passive decision of maintaining status quo.  This is true in a corporate sense as well – decision making is a key distinguishing reason for companies performing average, and companies performing well.

Book (non) Review – The Alchemist

"The Alchemist" by Paulo CoelhoThat anything remains to be said about “The Alchemist” is highly debatable.  That anything remains to be said by me is touching upon ridiculous, since I am pretty much the last person to read the book that has sold over 300 million copies.  I am sure there are people who have not read this book yet, but let us not talk about the 3 year olds, people who only communicate using whistling language, beautiful spice girls married to football stars and US vice presidential candidates right now.

Suppose all your friends went to the National Museum of Natural History, and saw this beautiful Hope Diamond and came back and told you all about it.  But for years you didn’t go there, until more of your friends went and saw it and told you about it.  And then your aunts and uncles and everyone else saw it and told you about it.  And then finally your FedEx delivery guy told you about it.  And then you went and saw the Hope Diamond.  Who would you write the review for?

"The Hope Diamond" at NMNH
“The Hope Diamond” – Click here to buy now

[Picture courtesy Ken Lund]