I am writing this in a cafe at 8am whilst watching people rushing to work in the rain. Are they following their dreams? Are they doing the thing that fills them with passion and enthusiasm?
The Alchemist is about following our dreams and providing the answers as to how we can do this. It tells the story of a shepherd boy who gives up his job and everything that is familiar and routine in order to follow his dream. He embarks on a travel adventure of new cities, new people, new landscapes, new experiences and new challenges.
Many of us do not follow our dreams because there are many obstacles and we end up doing something that does not fulfill us. The book attempts to teach us how to overcome the obstacles and is the reason it was a worldwide success. It sold more than 30 million copies and was translated into 63 languages (officially the most translated book of a living author).
The tale of Santiago, the shepherd boy, seemed to resonate with many people and it had been on my reading list for a very long time. Some people have said the book changed their life.
That is not quite the case for me because I am not following my dream one hundred per cent. I want to travel and write for a living, rather than it being only a hobby. But the book has encouraged me not to give up and keep pursuing the dream. I keep up my blog, I plan my trips and I take notes that I turn into travel tales. I enter travel writing competitions.
The book is full of philosophical statements designed to encourage the reader to pursue their own personal calling. For example, this exchange that Santiago has with the King of Salem:
"What's the world's greatest lie?" the boy asked, completely surprised.
"It's this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie."
I think these statements are all things that we know, deep down, but in our hectic lives it is easy to put them out of our minds. Sometimes we need reminding of these things and this is why books like this are so successful.
Regardless of the message the book imparts it is also an exciting travel adventure that really appealed to me. Santiago leaves the pastures of Andalucia to journey to Morocco, then crosses the desert by camel train to reach the Pyramids of Egypt.
Have you read The Alchemist? What did you think? Did it encourage you to follow your dreams?
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.