Paulo Coelho - The Alchemist: Part One
"A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness
from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for
forty days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It
was there that the wise man lived.
"Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main
room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went,
people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft
music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious
food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed with everyone, and
the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the
"The wise man listened attentively to the boy's explanation of why he had
come, but told him that he didn't have time just then to explain the secret of
happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in
" 'Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something,' said the wise man,
handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. 'As you wander
around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.
"The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace,
keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the
room where the wise man was.
" 'Well,' asked the wise man, 'did you see the Persian tapestries that are
hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master
gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my
"The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing.
His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had
entrusted to him.
" 'Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,' said the wise man.
'You cannot trust a man if you don't know his house.'
"Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of
the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the
walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the
flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon
returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.
" 'But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?' asked the wise man.
"Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.
" 'Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you,' said the wisest of
wise men. 'The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world,
and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.' "
The shepherd said nothing. He had understood the story the old king had
told him. A shepherd may like to travel, but he should never forget about his
I need not comment, expound, or share my perspective on this story. I would just like you to think about this and hold on to it.
Your wandering traveller in search of riches,
cc licensed flickr photo by john_curley