Meeting a King

August 8, 2011
By , Deagu, Korea, Republic of
It was almost seven years ago when I read the story, a pirated copy in my father's computer, forgotten in a corner of its hard drive. The epic tale of Santiago, the shepherd who found the treasure he dreamed of in the pyramids. However, the tale all began with a king, a king that came to people who were on the verge of giving up their dreams, a king that set them on the right course to fulfill their destiny.
This may seem like a concept too ideal to be true, almost like a fairy godmother. However, I know the king exists somewhere, because he came to me as well. The summer of 2011, a summer filled with frenzied preparation for colleges and standardized tests, I routinely studied in Seoul, the capital of Korea and travelled down to Deagu, my home, by train. As I took my seat on the train one Friday, I sat next to a father of two daughters. I pulled out my laptop and brought up a PDF file of The Alchemist to refresh my memory of it. As I read the book, the man next to me, intrigued and impressed by the many pages of English I was reading, struck up a conversation with me. At first I was reluctant, as I did not want to be interrupted in reading my favorite novel. However, gradually I became engrossed in the conversation we were having and stowed the book away. We talked of many things, but the one moment that left a distinct mark in my memory was when he started talking about his dream. When he was young, his dream was to be a famous movie director, one that would be known throughout Korea. However, the more he grew up the more he realized that his dreams were "unrealistic", so he became a high school teacher, what seemed to be a more stable job. From that moment onward, he collected the tickets of every movie he saw to soothe his aching heart. As he pulled out the wad of movie tickets from his bag, I realized; he was my king, and I was the shepherd. I was just getting prepared for my college applications at the major crossroad of my life, he came as an omen.
As I contemplated this over in my head again and again in my room, I came to a conclusion; I was not going to be like the man I met on the train. “Then you’ll die in the midst of trying to realize your Personal Legend. That’s a lot better than dying like millions of other people, who never even knew what their Personal Legends were”, the Alchemist once said to Santiago. Those words rang clear through me as I thought of that man on the train, the man who, out of fear, gave up his dream and was forced to spend the rest of his life soothing his wounded heart, wounded because it could not fulfill its destiny. That day, I resolutely said to myself, whatever happens in life I will not be cowed into forfeiting what I my heart desired, for what I forfeit that day is sure to haunt me for the rest of my life.
To some, this may indubitably sound like a naïve statement proclaimed by a seventeen year old who had not truly tasted life. Undoubtedly, some of these individuals will approach me and whisper that it is too idealistic, to assess the situation rationally and to play safe. However, I know I will disregard these urgings, for that day the king taught me that the greatest wealth in the world is to realize my destiny, to not be another buried dream that persistently aches a heart.

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