The Alchemist

I started reading The Alchemist. This book has been on my to-read list for quite some time so I was excited to finally get started reading it. And then it happened. It happens a lot. I will be reading along and I come across a passage that stops me cold. At that point I find that I must close the book and ponder. But not just for a moment or two. No, sometimes I never get pass the point that has astounded me. It happened in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

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Has this ever happened to you? I hope I’m not the only one, but then again, even if I am, I’m pretty sure I will continue to do exactly what I’ve been doing when this happens.

I wanted to share the excerpt and who knows, perhaps you will then decide to read it for yourself? Then you can come back and leave me a comment and we’ll discuss what the passage that stopped my reading means to you.

Here we go!

The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus.

The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.

But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.

He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.

“Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked.

“I weep for Narcissus.” the lake replied.

“Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,”

they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”

“But…was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.

“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder. “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!”

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:

“I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

“What a lovely story,” the alchemist thought.

That is the passage! After writing it here I find that I am still in a bit of wonderment.

I will continue to ponder and when I am finished perhaps I can begin the first chapter.

Do you have thoughts about this passage?


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