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This lesson saved Santiago's life because he finally understood that having faith in your destiny can actually lead you to realizing it, that it's wrong to "curse" your destiny because there is always a bigger plan that we fail to comprehend. Understanding that the gold did not represent what truly made him rich was everything.
Santiago, the shepard boy, who in effort achieves his true personal legend, is saved by a simple lesson. The narrative conveys a simple, yet complex point when you have faith in your goals and aspirations is all you need. Don't giveup because you had a minor settback like the crystal merchant, it's our inability to see the omens, and to see the bigger objective set beforth us, to achieve our personal legend. While, Santiago's quest did yield monetary gain, it was the knowledge and experience of the journey that made him more fufilled, thus saving his life from an enternity of dissapointment.