The winter break is soon over and I’ll officially start teaching again next week. These days the Sogang campus is packed with new graduates clad in the traditional cap and gown and their families beaming with pride and even more new freshmen participating in orientation.
I’ve spent a lot of time enjoying my beautiful Seoul this month and also a considerable amount of time reading. I recently finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I cannot believe that this book has been around for 30 years and that I just learned about it recently. In fact, it was one of my Korean students who told me about it in the fall. I must admit, though, that I did not read it in Korean. I am reading plenty of Korean literature on the side, too (which a friend of mine recently told me probably should not be marketed internationally as “K-Lit” haha) and will be updating about that as well in a later post.
Back to The Alchemist. This book was a surreal reading experience, mind-blowing and mind-opening at the same time. It truly reinforced my beliefs in all the good forces in the world. Briefly, the book is about a boy from Spain who ventures out to find a treasure buried by the Pyramids. Through his journey across Northern Africa, he meets many inspiring people that all contribute to shaping his fate. It made me think of my favorite Korean word 인연 (inyeon) which translates to something along the lines of “fateful meeting”, “special relationship”, or “destined relation”. Koreans have a saying that goes 옷깃만 스쳐도 인연이다 (otgitman seucheodo inyeonida). It means “even if you just graze a person’s collar when passing by them, they become part of your destiny”. This Korean saying beautifully summarizes the main lesson of The Alchemist. Here are a few of the quotes that I wanted to share with you:
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” (fun fact: there’s also a Korean expression for this: 칠전팔기)
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”
“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
“People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.”
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
“Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity”
This book is a testament to the law of attraction. When you truly want something and you pursue your goal with zeal and determination, failure is not an option.
I’ve recently had many amazing encounters with some very inspiring people here in Korea, and I cannot help but wonder if this is a part of the Universe’s big magic slowly unfolding in front of my eyes. I’ll definitely keep pursuing my goals and dreams and believe in all the beautiful quotes from The Alchemist.
Do you have a book that has inspired you? I’d love to hear your recommendations.