More thoughts that come from the Alchemist...
I think another reason for the success of this book is the hope that this delightful story gives for each person: Yes, every person has a Personal Legend... will you pursue it?
Perhaps it has been yet another recurring theme for me since I wrote my paper on "the role of the church in the postmodern culture."
I go back to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (yes, I'm a big subscriber).
This generation, a term I broadly use, has been blessed abundantly. We did not live during the 20's when there was a depression and we didn't know whether there would be enough money for the next day's food... nor do we live in our parents time in Asia during the 50's when Hong Kong saw tragedies during the Japanese occupation or in China during the Cultural Revolution. I have never doubted about the existence of my physical needs. Or even the next level, of safety. The next two levels are less granted, though our society encourages both and attempt to provide when those are lacking. Finally, we reach self-actualization.
I know my observations reflect a specific slice of the circles i have encountered... we who have been blessed with education (even post-secondary, and even multiple degrees), with a likeminded community and affluence of being in the top 10% of the population (approximately... from an old Canadian survey with income cutoff of approximately $64,000... basically, it's relevant to me because that's around the level all newly qualified CA's generally make...)
But an observation is that this "generation" has a much decreased drive than our previous generations... when those generations worked full drive towards more immediate needs (e.g., levels 1 to 4). I'm not referring to one's vocation specifically, but just... drive. What drives you?
It is interesting that all of the provisions and blessings we have received... including receiving many different choices and opportunities for self-actualization... yet, now lacking motivation to take that step.
I do say this for myself. Though I have a lucrative vocation (and a vocation I believe I am called into), I hesitate to think how I would "self-actualize" in it. Through different studies, I know I have other passions (e.g., theology... though accounting still remains one...) do I see myself making a complete jump to pursue such a "Personal Legend" of becoming a seminary professor? I don't know. I understand how choices can be paralyzing sometimes...
In this way, I think a reason why the Alchemist has been popular because it reinspires each person's own purpose... there *are* things to strive towards! Will you follow the signs of the "omens"?
My paper also touched upon the success of Purpose-Driven Life in this same way... PDL provides each person with a personal identity and purpose... something that may have been lost along the way when we have been clouded by many images from media and entertainment. Michael Chang also shared a similar message (yes, tennis player Michael Chang! He shared in English. =p) at another church in Hong Kong (while we watched via live feed, haha). His message was basically, "Do you dare to dream?"
Michael Chang shared about his dream of being a world-class tennis star when he was 6, in the basement of his home. He also shared about his struggles and prayers as he struggled through the 1989 French Open as his legs cramped up during the early rounds, but through this supernatural strength and God-given ability to move, he was given the victory. It was inspiring to hear his story and how he ascribed it all to the Lord.
I see these recurring messages being applied to many different levels... one, as in my paper, in how the church can answer the needs of the popular society, akin to how Purpose-Driven Life has given new meaning to life for some non-believers.
Another level is a challenge to all of us Christians... we who are in a comfortable and affluent slice of society... how will we describe your self-actualization to your children or grandchildren, and what motivated us behind it?
It has not been a rare "lament" (among multiple circles =p) as to the lack of examples of godly men in the churches that I know... Guys! Will you follow take up the lead as a continuation of Adam's Personal Legend? Haha, but yes, the challenge is for both genders and is consistent with the *ten* talents which we have received and on which the Lord expects a return.
What is your Personal Legend? Do you dare to follow it?
What drives you; what is your purpose?
Do you dare to dream?