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In The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, the old man (Melchizedek, the King of Salem) tells Santiago about how he helps people in their search for their Personal Legend. Santiago does not know what the old man is talking about, so Melchizedek explains what a Personal Legend is:
"It is what you have always wanted to accomplish."
In one instance, he relates the story of a miner who had searched for an emerald for five years. He was ready to give up, after investing all that time, so the old man became a stone that rolled and hit the miner's foot. Angry and frustrated, the miner picked up that stone and threw it as hard as possible into another rock that split apart— inside that rock was "the most beautiful emerald in the world." It was in this way that the old man was able to help the miner.
Melchizedek tells this story to Santiago because he believes that Santiago has come too far to go home and quit as the miner was thinking of doing. So the old man offers Santiago help, requiring a tenth of the boy's sheep.
The old man ends up giving Santiago several pieces of advice that are extremely valuable. First he tells Santiago what the greatest (biggest) lie in the world is: the lie is that people lose control over their own lives.
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.
Melchizedek also tells Santiago to observe the omens along his journey for these will lead him to his treasure.
In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.
Of course, Santiago is speaking of "treasure" in terms of gold or jewels, whereas the old man's idea of treasure goes beyond what can be held in the hand to mean increased self-awareness and happiness.
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