In Coelho's The Alchemist, discuss the importance of the journey over finding material treasure—and what this shows about life. In other words, what happens in life when one actually achieves their personal legend?
In Coelho's The Alchemist, the author emphasizes the importance of the journey over finding material wealth. Had the wealth been important, Santiago's dreams would never have drawn him to the Pyramids. It is about learning the understand omens and become one with the world: in this, Santiago learns not only about the world, but also about his place in the universe. He could have received a dream and ignored it, just as the robber:
Two years ago, right here on this spot, I had a recurrent dream, too. I dreamed that I should travel to the fields of Spain and look for a ruined church where shepherds and their sheep slept.
Santiago strives to learn from others, to learn from his mistakes, and to take a chance (as advised by Melchizedek) to find more than he might ever have imagined because something greater than himself had a plan for him—for the taking—if he was willing to embark on this important life journey. And the Soul of the World sends many people for Santiago to learn from:
[Santiago] thought of the many roads he had traveled, and of the strange way God had chosen to show him his treasure. If he hadn't believed in the significance of recurrent dreams, he would not have met the Gypsy woman, the King, the thief...
Santiago learns what he is capable of. The young man who begins the journey is very different than the young man at the story's end: he has lost his livelihood and yet survived; he has learned much about misplaced trust (as with the man who robs him), and that not everyone's journey is the same (as with the Englishman)—which does not make one person's method inferior to another's. Diversity is a good thing.
Santiago would never have met Fatima, and in her (he mentions several times) nothing else matters when he considers the treasure of his love for her.
The story demonstrates that in order to fully experience life and to achieve all one desires for his (or her) life, a person must be willing to overcome fear, leave his preconceptions behind and move forward on faith, certain that a higher power (the entire universe) is conspiring to help each person reach his or her goals.
In realizing one's Personal Legend, a person finds that which God had hoped he would find in his life—the very things that will truly bring happiness, which money (or material goods) can rarely do. (God cannot force a person to pursue his legend, but he can hope, and send signs and people along the way to help.) When one realizes his Personal Legend, he discovers great joy in knowing he has persevered in his quest, and has found not only things of material value, but things that bring great satisfaction: success and a sense of accomplishment when facing the world on his terms, based on his personal choices.