The Alchemist Book Summary
“Man, who follows passion, always richer than man who follows money” – Mr Miyagi.
One of my current goals in life is to read all the classics. I’m talking the “To Kill a Mockingbirds”, “The Catcher in the Ryes” and “The Great Gatsby’s” of English literature. Why? Well as a wanna-be writer and filmmaker, and having had so many professors/teachers tell me that these books would change your life, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Most recently, I checked out Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”, a book widely regarded as ‘life-changing’. The story follows a young Sheppard boy who goes on an epic journey to find his personal legend – a quest in which the author believes all people must follow, where they follow their soul’s passion and find ultimate fulfillment and happiness in doing what they are passionate about.
Now it may sound a bit cheesy to some people, but I really connected with this book. As someone who has so many creative goals in mind, whether it be starting a YouTube channel, writing a screenplay, or traveling the world and making it into a movie, it can be tough to fully realise these goals. With constant ‘head-noise’, distractions such as social media, and the echo of people’s stupid downgrading opinions in the back of my mind, it can be difficult trying to do what I am passionate about 100% of the time. It is easy to adopt the mindset that you don’t care about what other people think of you, but deep down we are all innately social creatures who do care about being judged, made fun of, and criticized – it is an intrinsic part of being human. However, what I think is most important, is the ability to push forward, move on, take the hits, and accept that you are going to cop shit, but keep doing what you are passionate about because it is what you are passionate about and it is what makes you happy. At the end of the day, who wants to live a life where you aren’t doing something that makes you happy. So, I really commend Frazier for making this website, because I think I speak for all people who are trying to express themselves online, whether that be making music or movies, that it can be a very daunting task. Anyway, I thought I would summarise 3 of the most important things I learned from reading “The Alchemist” without delving into spoilers, and how this can be translated into making movies, achieving goals, and ultimately doing what you are most passionate about.
- Live a life of intention
“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
One of the main messages of “The Alchemist” is that the only person that can bring the Sheppard boy to finding his purpose is himself. And it is so true. If you have a goal in mind, whether it be grinding the gym, making a movie, or writing a book, the only person that can get you there is yourself. Paulo Coelho believes that if you are passionate about something, the entire universe, people, nature, and the God’s, will help you get there. It is totally up to you if you want to believe that, but it is a nice thought to have at the back of your head in my opinion. One of the biggest problems in today’s culture is that we can so easily live a life of complacency, I mean, think about how much time we spend just mindlessly scrolling, on TikTok and Instagram – we just shut our brains off and let our devices take charge. Now I don’t want to act like I am not a culprit of this, because I am. I have spent hours where I have wanted to write stuff and get creative, but I just wasted my time scrolling on social media. I do believe though, that if you put your phone down and take charge of what you want to get done, you can see great success. If you do all of your tasks with an intention, not viewing them as a mere obligation, they become far easier.
“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the little boy asks. The old man replies, “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.”
2. Seek Discomfort
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
A good lesson that I learnt whilst at film school was that limitations are your friend. Think about it, when things go wrong, don’t work, and fall out of place, you are forced to think on your feet and that is when creativity sparks. An example of this is in the movie “Jaws”, where the robotic shark used in the film wouldn’t work. Steven Spielberg was forced to think on his feet, and he opted to show far less of the shark in the film, creating a visual unease and exponentially sparking fear in the minds of the audience by tapping into their fear of the unknown. When going to create something, or follow a pursuit, things are going to go to shit. Nothing ever works out the way that you want it to, but that is also a good thing. As you keep trying new things, experimenting with different stuff and learning from your failures, what you are creating gets better and better, just like in “Jaws”. I can think back to when I made my first proper short film about male mental health titled “Boys Don’t Cry”. Everything I did seemed go wrong. I tried doing stop motion animation – it failed miserably. My printer broke. I got ink all over my hands and the cardboard I was using. My microphone sucked, so I had to borrow my mates and teach myself how to use Garage Band. I was so close to giving up, but I kept pushing on, with little sleep and no energy. I had to constantly improvise, which sucked at the time, but it actually taught me so much about the film-making process, and some things worked out for the better. An example of this was when I couldn’t find any good music for my short film, I was freaking out – with no music the whole vibe would’ve been killed. Luckily, I reached out to my friend Aubany who provided a beautiful soundtrack – far better than any copyright-free music I would have found online. Anyway, the film ended up making the final 30 of a Bond University short film competition, weird how things work out in the long run. I’m going to quote from another book here, “Think and Grow Rich”, but this is honestly one of the best things I have ever read related to this topic, and it is that “one should never give up when presented with temporary defeat.”
3. Experience is one of the best teachers
“Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.”
As Frazier mentioned in his review of the book “Rebel without a Crew”, it is not about ‘movie experience’, but instead ‘experience in movies.’ When following a creative passion, it takes time, it takes making a hundred shit movies, writing a hundred shit articles about books, and just letting everything out of your system. While it may seem crap at the time, everyone has to start somewhere, and the only way you are going to learn is by actually giving it a crack. Slowly, but surely, you learn new things along the way until you become a master of your craft. Personally, I look back at the Volleyball Promo’s I made in Year 11 and cringe at how bad they were, but I then also I look at the Senior Video I made almost two years later, and I can see how much I have learnt about film-making. So as explained in the above quote, take the opportunity to cultivate gratitude for everything that you create, because one day you’ll look back on it and realise how much you have grown.
I’ve decided to not really delve into the plot of the book in this article, because I think the whole purpose of this book is that you have to read it for yourself. Everybody has different goals and passions in mind, and it up to you to realise them.
“It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”