“Love never keeps a man from pursuing his personal legend. If he abandons that pursuit, it’s because it wasn’t true love.” The Alchemist
Our Santiago has much to learn at the feet of the crystal merchant, though some may not be obvious on the face of it. For example, the merchant follows the Koran, which is his holy book, and it gives him 5 Obligations to complete in his lifetime. The last and final obligation is to Go to Mecca. This, he believes, is his personal legend. But unlike the boy, the older man does not want to realize his dream. He says:
“I just want to dream about Mecca. I’ve already imagined a thousand times crossing the desert, arriving at the Plaza of the Sacred Stone, the seven times I walk around it before allowing myself to touch it. I’ve already imagined the people who would be at my side, and those in front of me, and the conversations and prayers we would share. But I’m afraid that it would all be a disappointment, so I prefer just to dream about it.”
How many times have we sabotaged (here is that word again!) our own dreams? Too afraid to try, too afraid not to try. My husband would attest to this, I know. Many years ago, he had an opportunity to go to Journalism school and made another choice, which he’s regretted. His life has been filled with the experience of journalism (through mostly newspapers) and he is an excellent writer and employee. But there has always been that pesky wondering if he might have gone bigger, wider with his career had he just gone to school? Of course, he will never know.
For me, I could list a thousand things. A thousand and one. From a career in speech pathology to managing a cat centre, which we’ve talked about ad nauseam in this blog. From owning a home to living by the beach to having my entire family living in a compound of sorts — not religious, just close by. From being thin to accepting myself as I am, in all my fluffy glory. All these things are my Mecca (and please forgive me if the religious reference is – in any way – insulting to Muslims. I use it in the same way I might “Heaven”).
Santiago will not be deterred, however, and leaves the crystal shop in pursuit of his “Personal Legend” — to find his treasure at the pyramids.
But life, as we all know, interferes, as does the loveliness of a certain young woman he met years before… and meets again.
This is where things come to a bit of a halt again.
Is a Personal Legend the same as Mecca, or Heaven? Because Santiago feels as if he’s there. He is happy. He has what he needs. He has love. He lives in what is called “an oasis.”
The book might have ended here… on a happy note… except… have we met The Alchemist? Almost. So close!
I find, as I’m reading, that there is so much to stop and think about. Honestly, I hadn’t realized (until after I’d bought it) that it was published in the late-1980s. I thought for sure it was older. Interesting. It feels ancient.
Do I love this book? Not sure. I have a reverence, though.
Read the final post in this series, tomorrow.