The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) BY: Kathlee Nguyen

Here, King Melchizedek tells Santiago the world's greatest lie, which claims that one's destiny is determined by fate. King Melchizedek is explaining that one's life is not determined by fate, but can be changed by the person themselves. His words of wisdom go against the belief that the Soul of the World already has everything written out.

The belief that one's fate can change from their actions can be applied to many peoples' lives, especially students both at home and at school. Over the years, students are told what they excel at, as well as what their weaknesses. They are told that college is the only way to succeed, and that if they don't make it to college, there's no way to succeed and live "a normal life." Students are told that one test, the SAT determines our fate. One exam is all it takes to erase years of hard work and dedication. The Soul of the World can be thought of as the SAT, but in very specific ways.

For example, the Soul of the World, according to The Alchemist, determines one's fate, and there is no way to change it. The SAT and similar college-admission tests "determine" your fate with a three to four digit number.

The Soul of the World, though, is a very POSITIVE force for EVERYONE, not just the "smartest," students who have, "worked the hardest," or "deserve it." The Soul of the World helps anyone who will receive its help, through omens, while the SAT's only help those who understood the material, are good test takers, etc.

“People learn, early in their lives, what is their reason for being,” said the old man, with a certain bitterness. “Maybe that’s why they give up on it so early, too. But that’s the way it is."

An old man, who later turns out to be King Melzedek, explains to Santiago that some people give up on their dreams because they find out too soon. From my perspective, it appears that fear and doubt are the reasons why one would surrender their hopes and dreams to a "stable," life. Another reason one does not pursue their dreams are because they don't have enough motivation to follow through. Grasping onto one's dream and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't happen overnight, which is a risk for many people. People fear that they don't have the time to take risks. In actual life, people are not afraid of pursuing their dreams, but the idea of it, as well as the risks that come with doing so. They're afraid of the idea of failure, but also, interestingly, according to King Melzedek, that they're not ready. People are willing to pursue their dreams, but often find out what they want too soon; and get freaked out, which results in giving up too soon.

For example, when I was a freshman at Marina, I joined choir, and got placed into the most basic choir. When I learned about auditions, and all the other choirs, I freaked out and didn't audition, because I was afraid of the audition, which would eventually place me into the advanced women's choir: Valkyrie. My freshman year was a review and recap of all the music I learned throughout the years. At the end of the year, I was sick, but I still auditioned, despite having a voice with extremely limited range. I got into Valkyrie. The audition wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. This year, at the end of Sophomore year, I plan on auditioning for Concert Choir, the honors choir. I plan on eventually joining Viking Choir my senior year.

The main lesson of my mini-story is that you can't be afraid of accomplishing your dreams because of how long it will take. Like King Melzedek said, some people find out about their passion in life, and give up, but why? Because they're afraid to. They're afraid of failure, and the risks, but mostly they're afraid of change, both good and bad. Change in one's life is always a little intimidating, and can be life-changing, but it will make you a better person. Besides, if you're not winning, then you're becoming wiser. That's a quote that has kept me going. If you're not gaining victory, then you're gaining knowledge and experience.

“There must be a language that doesn’t depend upon words the boy thought” (46).

Santiago's thought refers to the Language of the World, or in other words, a universal language every single person and thing knows. A language that every one, as well as everything, is born knowing automatically. The Language of the World is most likely referring to body language, love, fear, and surprise; which everyone knows. What I mean by that is that when you look at someone's face, you can usually tell how they're feeling, whether it's happy, sad, afraid, surprised, etc, without them telling you.

One of the most common universal languages happens to be love, which includes love at first sight, which Santiago experiences upon meeting the love of his life, Fatima, at the desert oasis. Love is an emotion that can be felt universally, and can be applied to real life in all relationships, including our love for our parents, a spouse, a friend, or a pet. There are many kinds of love, but there are many more emotions that are a part of the Language of the World.

“Because it’s the thought of Mecca that keeps me alive.” (57).

The crystal merchant reveals to Santiago his reason for not going to Mecca, which is because he knows that it's the thought of going to Mecca that keeps him alive. Sometimes in life, we know what we want, which is great, but we don't pursue it because we're afraid that we'll be disappointed. Life is full of disappointments, but in the end, we learn that the times that we beam with pride outweigh the times we cried ourselves to sleep from disappointment by a mile. For example, in choir, it's hard to hit the high and low notes. While most will go for it, and end up learning and improving, others will not; but not for the reason some people would expect. Most people would think it's because they don't have the ability, or they're afraid of not making it. Sometimes, it's no the fear of failure, but the fear of disappointment. The thought of hitting that high note I've been working on for months, and not having it be as thrilling as I thought it would is always in my mind, but I always remind myself that I'll never know if I never try. I'd honestly rather live a life of, "Oh well," than a life of, "What if?"

“Today, I understand something I didn’t see before: every blessing ignored becomes a curse.” (60).

This quote is spoken to Santiago by the crystal shop merchant, and the merchant is saying that if you ignore an opportunity of some sort, then you might miss out on something great. If you bail on a chance to make your dreams come true, then you'll be fine for a while, but eventually, your heart and mind will begin to haunt you, saying you should've gone; but when you decide you're ready, it'll be too late. The merchant doesn't mean that the blessing itself is a curse, but rather the absence of it. We can take this saying and apply it to our own lives by taking chances and taking every blessing. When someone offers you a hand, you shouldn't deny it, even though you think you don't need it, because chances are, if you don't need it now, you'll need it later. For example, in choir when someone offers to help you read even the simplest music in C Major, you should accept it, because there's always a tiny detail no one notices, but could trip you in the future. Basically, don't let your ego and pride get in the way of your dreams coming true.

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” (119-red).

This is the most interesting quote, because it makes a direct connection from the Bible

Credits:

Created with images by Walkerssk - "giza pyramid pyramids of giza" • Pearly85 - "Magic in the sky"

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