The three objectives in life are achieving happiness, fulfillment, and a sense of belonging. It is for this reason that family is considered a fundamental aspect of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you belong to a family, regardless of whether it is by friendship or blood, you experience happiness. Therefore, it would be accurate to say that you are somewhat satisfied with life. However, achieving personal legends often involves sacrificing these three essential objectives of life in the pursuit of a higher purpose for which you were created. In history, there have been many people that placed bets while intoxicated and woke up to find that they were millionaires. Stories of rags to riches resulting from irresponsible conduct. It is for this reason that I reject the idea of Maktub, Fate, and personal legends entirely.

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In the novel The Alchemist, Santiago is forced to give up things which he held dear to pursue his destiny. He sacrifices his budding relationship with Fatima, and his flock of sheep, in pursuit of treasures in Egypt. All these, the results of a dream he had while he passed the night sleeping under a sycamore tree (15). It would not be illogical to think that if at all one’s destiny is predetermined, the burden should not be on the person in question but rather on forces of nature to deliver fate to each their own. During the 2014 World Cup football tournament, a drunkard placed a bet on a possible outcome in a match between the Brazilian and German national teams. During the entire game, he had passed out. The prediction turned out to be correct resulting in a 1.3 million Euros payout from a 200 Euros bet. In this scenario, the intoxicated man found his “treasure” without having to give up on what he loved most, his beer. His treasure finds him in his most imperfect state, opposing the importance of sacrifice in pursuing personal legends.

Throughout his journey, Santiago faces many challenges which he believes play an integral role towards achieving his destiny. At one point, he finds himself in a desert where his hopes are almost crushed. He has to suffer before he finally locates an oasis, which provides more challenges than relief as war breaks out between Melchizedek and an army of men (83). Even worse, he faces opposition from the army, who try to hold him back as he attempts to convert himself into the swirling wind (70-90). With all these sufferings, one cannot help but remember that the situation would have been much better if he was still back at home. Back at home he had a chance of becoming a wealthy shepherd in future and married Fatima. All these would have been achieved with less suffering.

Upon his arrival at the location of the treasures, Santiago realizes that the treasures were not in Egypt. Instead, the treasures were back in Spain buried beneath the same Sycamore tree where he used to rest (143). From this latest development in Santiago’s journey, the idea of sacrifice to pursue fate and personal legends becomes void. If at all it was predetermined by fate that Santiago would find the treasures, there would be no need for him to travel to Egypt. If it was fate, he should have discovered the treasures without the need to lose his flock of sheep.

The Alchemist triggered my mind as I questioned whether it is worth it to pursue personal legends at the expense of my current situation. I could not imagine a situation where Santiago went back to Spain and found that one of his neighbors had discovered the treasures after a heavy storm fell the tree exposing the treasures. Santiago would be left with no treasure, no sheep, and an onerous task of winning back Fatima.

  • Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. Harpercollins, 2015, pp. 15, 83, 70-90, 143.