Friday, March 6, 2015

Nugget of wisdom

This quote surmises what happens on pages 1-30. The old man suggests to Santiago that to "realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation." Santiago is at this moment in his life: he must realize his "Personal Legend." This quest for realization consumes the young shepherd which reflects the old man's observation: "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."  This is similar to the concept of intuition: the weird and strange inclinations we have without rational explanations. I like to describe the universe's conspiring as a feeling of restlessness much like the one young Santiago is experiencing. Whenever I am not where I need to be(in a cosmic sense of course, not literally), I feel a bit unbalanced and like I am constantly struggling to regain that balance. It is reminiscent of the way Holden Caulfield describes walking across the road and feeling like he is disappearing: an unsettling, irritating harbinger. Perhaps, this quote foreshadows Santiago's quest for his "Personal Legend or it may just be the ramblings of the mysterious old man.


  1. The onus of recognizing or discovering one’s purpose has endured as a nagging mission for me throughout my life. The quote that you selected, where the old man tells Santiago that to “realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation” stirs that uneasy suggestion that I have not fully accepted my responsibility to this existence. Have I neglected my true destiny by following the path that my experiences have set before me, the usual route: college, marriage, family, work? Have I left buried somewhere within me my true “Personal Legend”? The old man tells Santiago of the baker who wanted to travel as a child, but chose to spend his life as a baker because it was more acceptable profession than one such as a shepherd that would allow him to follow his childhood dream. The old man states, “In the long run, what people think about shepherds and bakers becomes more important for them than their own Personal Legends.” This is an interesting concept and I do think that most people take the safe expected path in life. It would require tremendous faith and courage to pursue a “Personal Legend” not to mention great personal sacrifice. The other gnawing question for me is how does one know what that “Personal Legend” is for sure. Truth gets buried early in life for most of us by parental and society expectations. The layers of influence, covering our true selves, tend to guide us throughout our lives. Thank you for your thought provoking post.

  2. When I read this I immediately connected with Holden as well. I see the journey of the young man as being a search for his identity and/or purpose. I also thought of Marlow from HOD which had a different take on how the world helps you achieve what you are searching for. It seems that fate and the path you choose to take contradicts the theory of the world helping you get where you want to be.