I read this book years ago and was touched by the incredible journey the main character, Santiago, goes through to fulfill his life legend in pursuit of a treasure he seeks. I got reminded of this book just recently upon having an enlightening conversation with a friend of mine from San Francisco who works at a start-up tech company.
There is something about Silicon Valley that gets me sort of excited, maybe it’s the dream, maybe it’s the start-up culture or the incredibly intelligent and real people you meet there. Whatever it is, I love the vibe of SF people and here is a little insight as to why;
My SF friend and I were taking a walk one morning with our coffees at hand and we came across a convenient store which had a sign advertising for the lottery; “Win 30 Million Dollars!”, as I have often dreamt about winning the lottery and what I would do with my winnings, I posed the same question I have asked dozens of people to him; “What would you do if you won the lottery?”.
The answer I got wasn’t one that I was expecting and I think you all might be surprised too!
He took my question seriously and thought about it long and hard and then said the following:
“Selfishly… I don’t want to win the lottery.”
I was baffled! first of all selfishly? And second of all who doesn’t want to win the lottery?!
He went on to explain as he could see my face was a bit shocked;
“Selfishly I don’t want to win because I know my winnings could potentially secure my family but personally I would gain no great value from that kind of money.”
I took that answer in for a brief moment and asked him; “What if you could start you own company with it?”
To which he responded:
“I already work for a start-up and what I do for them on a technical level is just as rewarding, I think the money would actually ruin my journey completely.”
I had a moment, that word “journey” immediately reminded me of the book “The Alchemist” and how incredibly real it just got for me.
In short, The Alchemist takes place in Egypt during the Middle Ages at a time when Alchemy was practiced. The main character, Santiago is a Spanish shepherds boy
who lives a simple and uneventful life until he starts to experience a series of reoccurring dreams. Throughout these dreams he is continuously approached by a child who tells him to go and find a treasure at the foot of the Egyptian pyramids. With little to lose, other than his sheep, he sells everything and goes on a quest to find this treasure and in his journey he encounters rich characters such as the alchemists.
For Santiago, the treasure becomes far less valuable than the wealth of knowledge and experience he gained throughout his journey. And even though he does find material wealth along the way, the experience clearly becomes the real treasure.
I would recommend this book for a meaningful read full of symbolism and poetic writing! And a reminder that life is about the journey & we are all richer for the experience.