The Alchemist - An Epilogue of the Epilogue

January 6, 2012
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The boy quickened his pace, determined to reach the port before the boat left for Egypt. He knew the only thing that mattered now was returning with the treasure to his beloved Fatima. He approached the cargo ship just as the last crates were being stored away in the lower deck, paying the ship’s captain a large sum of Spanish coins to help him traverse the Mediterranean. As the boat began its journey, the boy looked out at the calm sea and thought of everything he had achieved; he had traveled, just like he had dreamed as a child, he had spoken to his heart, learned the Language of the World, turned into the wind, fulfilled his Personal Legend, and, best of all, he had fallen in love with the most beautiful woman in the desert.

He felt a tap on his shoulder, and upon turning around, he realized that though Fatima may have been the most beautiful woman in the desert, she was nowhere in comparison as beautiful as the woman that stood before him. When she spoke she had all the powerful beauty and fluid grace of the sea, “Hello,” she said, tucking a stream of long, raven hair behind her ear. The boy was instantly reminded of the merchant’s daughter in Andalusia, but this was definitely not her. Her dress was an elegant traveling cloak, concealing anything she might be carrying with her, and she seemed to be someone of royalty. She continued, leaning against the deck to look out at the sea as well, observing the patterns of the wind and waves intelligently, “You look very much like a man who has fulfilled his Personal Legend.” She looked back at him, smiling like the old man would have.

The boy would have said something, but he was too stunned by this sudden appearance.

“You must know that I am not very different in nature from your friend, the King of Salem,” she explained, “And I know that you have not yet learned all it is you need to know,”

“B-but,” the boy stammered, “You said so yourself, I have fulfilled my Personal Legend. I have learned everything I need to know, and I have applied it. Now I can live a happy life with the woman I love,” he motioned to his knapsack full of treasure.

“When one learns everything they need to know,” the woman asked, “Have they really learned everything in the world there is to know?”

The boy contemplated this, his heart softly murmuring in reply, and finally responded, “I suppose that no man on Earth could ever learn absolutely everything there is to know, which is why he settles for his own Personal Legend...” But then another thought struck him. The Alchemist had taught him that the key to forming gold from lead was allowing the lead to fulfill its Personal Legend, until it was prepared to transform into a higher state of being. “But if you settle for just one Personal Legend, how can you evolve?”

The boat rocked gently as the coast of Spain grew smaller in the distance. The sun was rising higher in the sky, although it was concealed by clouds. Like the lead that would turn to gold in the Alchemist’s hands, and like the boy himself, the darkened clouds above were preparing to evolve into falling rain, and return to the sea from which they came.

The woman nodded in agreement with the boy, “There are very few in this world of men who achieve their Personal Legend twice, and even fewer who live long enough to evolve even further.”

“Twice? I have only known one Personal Legend so far,”

“When you were a child, did you ever imagine traveling as far as the Pyramids?”

“No, only of traveling the countryside of Spain,”

“You have achieved that Personal Legend very early in your life, without even the help of an Angel,” the woman said with admiration, “But once you fulfilled that Personal Legend, you could have ended your journey if you had chosen,”

The boy realized, “If I had settled down with the merchant’s daughter, and become a baker,”

“You would have been happy enough,”

“But then I wouldn’t have listened to my dreams, and I wouldn’t have traveled so far, and I wouldn’t have met Fatima, and found my treasure,”

“And even now, you would be happy enough. The night you arrived back in Spain, you had another dream, didn’t you?”

“Yes, but it is quickly fading, even faster than my dreams of the Pyramids. Now matter how persistent they are, they escape my grasp; they are in a language I cannot comprehend.”

“There is always a way to understand something as simple as a dream, so long as you are willing enough to listen,” the woman began to lead the boy down to the lower deck, for a storm was preparing to brew, “However, your third journey will be much more difficult, if you wish to accept the challenge.”
The only thing the boy and his heart could think to say was, “What about Fatima? I cannot leave her! She is beautiful beyond compare, and nothing should be able to stop our love,” He found himself walking down a deck filled with crates and sacks of Spanish exports; textiles, metals, and stores of various crops, to a small bedroom filled with luxurious Persian carpets and imported fabrics of all kinds. He was reminded of the gypsy he had delivered a sum of his treasure not too long ago.

“What better love is there than the love of the Universe itself?” The woman began lighting candles in the small, dark cabin, “This great force you call God,” The dim light reflected brightly in the woman’s ice-blue eyes, flickering as she spoke, “Is this not the true and heightened form of love? If you choose to evolve, this will only bring you closer to all of that which you call Holy. You have left the merchant’s daughter already. Can you not leave this woman just as easily?”

The boy hesitated. The Alchemist’s words echoed in his head, ‘Everything that happens once cannot happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.’

“I can help you understand the nature of your dream, but only if you yourself are willing to let the message be heard. You must let go of all your worldly attachments; everything that binds you to the life you might have lived.” Crystal cups were filled with freshly brewed tea, and set on a small table in the middle of the room, on which was a handsome tablecloth embroidered with emeralds, each containing a strange-looking script, unfamiliar to the boy. He sat down slowly, still thinking. His heart was pounding, obviously nervous, because even his own heart, despite being powerful enough to change a boy into the wind, had an irrational fear of losing that which was close to it so easily. The boy gripped his warm glass tightly, until it burned his palm.
The woman politely waited for him to respond, her gaze upon him unwavering.
He took a deep breath of the jasmine-scented air, thinking of all the knowledge the world had left to offer him, and also of Fatima, the woman he had hoped would one day be his wife. His heart apologized, “I’m sorry I am not of any use to you anymore. If you accept this offer, you will have transcended the need for a heart, like how lead is freed from its excess weight when it is transformed into gold. Beyond this human existence is a world of pure logic, where life is felt and experienced with nothing but the mind. There is no place for me in that world, but I will be happy for you, knowing that you have achieved so much.”
“What will happen to you if I leave?” the boy asked.
His heart responded, “We will not be able to communicate any longer, because we will become one with each other. It is a difficult process, and the result is increasingly lonely, but it is necessary to achieve your next Personal Legend. You will become like this woman, and the King of Salem. You will have infinite knowledge, as far as I can understand.”
The boy took a moment of silence. The woman before him was still waiting. He searched her likeness for happiness. If he was to become like her, would he truly be satisfied with it? What he found in the depths of her eyes was something beyond happiness, beyond love, beyond joy and any human emotion. He couldn’t quite grasp it, but it was almost like an understanding of the world. It was bliss. It was wisdom, and contentment, and mind open to all the possibilities of life. And the boy knew that this was only what the woman was communicating to him with her gaze. She knew much more that she was hiding from him. And this is what the boy wanted to know.
He whispered a last goodbye to Fatima, hoping it would be carried across the sea; across the torrents of wind above. To the mysterious woman, the boy finally said, “Show me. Show me the nature of my dreams. My mind is free, and my heart is compliant.”
Through a thickly-laden mist, the boy saw before him a beautiful jewel... As green and shimmering as the oases of the desert. Inscribed ever so carefully on it’s carved surface were two simple characters, from which the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything could be drawn... “42.”

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