the greatest lie


“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked completely surprised.

“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. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”

When I read that part in The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, I stopped and reread it several times because it seemed to hold such an important truth for me. When we are children, the future is a never ending smörgåsbord of possibilities. What we will do for a living, where we might travel and live, the people we’ll meet and the adventures we’ll have are laid out before us and all we have to do is choose: this amazing future or that one, which will it be? But when many of us grow up we lose the part of ourselves that believes in those possibilities. We feel consumed by the basic needs of life. We have bills to pay, illnesses to beat, children to raise, husbands or wives or aging parents to care for, and before we know it we’re buying into the idea that we have lost control of our own fate. That life is something that is happening to us, the buffet is closed.

I remember getting an e-mail once from a family friend. She caught me up on what was happening in her life and then suddenly at the end of the note she wrote, “My life hasn’t turned out like I thought it would.” That ten word sentence stayed with me for days. I understood what she was saying, after years of poor health I sometimes felt that way myself. Yet her statement sounded so final and sad and she was younger than me, her life was far from over, our lives are far from over! In The Alchemist, Coelho writes that every living thing has a Personal Legend, or life’s purpose. The author Caroline Myss calls it your Sacred Contract. I believe that’s true. I think that the fearless child we once were is still inside us, still dreaming the dreams that hold the answer to the question, “Why am I here?” We simply need to be still and start paying attention to it again. I enjoyed reading The Alchemist. Written in the form of a fable, it’s a wonderful little gem of a book that really gets you thinking. Thanks for the recommendation Ann!

3 thoughts on “the greatest lie

  1. I have resisted this book for the longest time (not sure why) but my resistance stops here. I’m writing it on my list right now. Thanks for a great review.

  2. hello!
    I’m a big Paulo Coelho’s fan and I don’t know if you heard about his blog
    I’ve started as a fan and now I’m collaborating with him and thought that you would like to enter his universe.
    Check the blog.
    if you want, or subscribe to his newsletter
    You’ll see a community of warriors of light sharing ideas, dreams and most importantly following their personal legend.


    In the intervals between battles, the Warrior of Light rests.

    (Manual of the Warrior of Light)

    Merry Christmas!


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