The Alchemist (Coelho)

Melchizedek tells Santiago a fable about a boy and his drops of oil. What does this fable mean to Santiago? What do you think it might mean to people pursuing their personal legends in general?

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Melchizedek's infers that 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 boy in the fable is told to walk about the castle and warned not to spill a drop of oil from the spoon he carried with him. The boy was so terrified he'd spill the oil that he never took the opportunity to see either the castle or its great wealth. When the boy is sent out the second time, he is told to pay attention to the things around him, while still carrying the spoon and oil. Unfortunately, he became so enamored of the sights around him that he forgot to take care and spilled the oil.

The story's moral is that humanity must find balance in their lives. Observe everything but neglect nothing.