A story about a young person leaving home to look for some hidden treasure has a familiar and alluring ring to it. We all have heard a version of this story in our lifetime. However, Coelho disrupts our expectation in many ways. The protagonist of The Alchemist was not a passive receiver of fate’ whim. He had a mounting desire, a desire to realize his personal legend, and from that point on, everything in the universe, good and bad, pleasurable or painful, conspired to make that happen, to help him to achieve his personal legend.
He met an old king who dispelled for him the world’s greatest lie, that “at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate.”
By taking steps to live out his personal legend, he came to realize that his life is an expression of God. His story is the story of God. God’s heart and soul is his heart and soul. Coelho writes to his readers: “I am Santiago the shepherd boy in search of my treasure, just as you are Santiago the shepherd boy in search of your own. The story of one person is the story of everyone, and one man’s quest is the quest of all of humanity.” The one is everyone, and the everyone is the one.
I believe, to echo Coelho, even if you and I don’t understand each others’ backgrounds, politics, and religions, if we can understand each other’s stories, we are never too far apart. A bridge of understanding and reconciliation is always there. We will sit around a table together and hear each others’ stories – and see ourselves in others and see others in ourselves.