Maktub-Air of Resignation or Sound Advice?

One of the words that really interested me in The Alchemist by Paulo Cuehlo was the Arabic word “Maktub” which apparently means “so it is written.”  I think it really loses it full flavor when translated from the Arabic.  Even the pronunciation of the word gives it more meaning than you can get by literal translation, but I guess thats what you lose when you translate one language to another.  All the pronunciations of the word I can find on the internet sound like an American or European reading the word MACK-TUB.  I would love to hear it from an Arabic speaking person to get the full flavor.

Does the word mean “so it is written” as in “there’s nothing you can do about it” or does it imply “young man or women, take life one step at a time.”  I would prefer it to imply the latter, but thats probably my own personal bias.  Life seems much more hectic than it used to be.  Every event and statement has taken on an air of so much importance and relevance.  But perhaps as Charlie Munger might ask “what is the incentive for these peoples motivation and behavior?” I tell my kids there are only 3 or 4 really important things or events in life, kind of like the 10X inflection points that Andy Grove wrote about.  These include controlling your mind and thinking, when and to whom you get married, and when and if you have children.  A loving atmosphere at home is the foundation for your life.  The rest of it is probably nonsense.  The other thing I tell my kids is what my Dad told me years ago, and it has always stuck in my mind.  He said “I can tell you about a man by the people he hangs out with.”  Thanks Dad, that was good advice.

The Alchemist

I like to read books.  I don’t read novels, but like books that make me think.  I recently read a quote that was in the Farnam Street Blog that got me re-reading The Alchemist by Paulo Cuelho, a book that I have read at least 8 times over the past 2 years.  Before I talk about the book, I do highly recommend that you at least take a look at the Farnam Street Blog.  It is an intelligent summary of books and articles that challenge thinking.  The quote was from Joseph Tussman, who was a Professor of Philosophy at Cal Berkeley.  It states “What the pupil must learn,  if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities.  If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.”

I first read the Alchemist at the recommendation of a new friend Peter Stickney.  I found out we share a lot of interests, and we have become really good friends.  The first time I read the Alchemist, I initially thought I was reading a simplistic children’s book.  But as I kept reading it, I started to reflect more on some of the message that seemed to spring up to me from someone in my submerged sub-conscious.  Every time I re-read the book, I get something new out of it.  Its one of those things, kind of like watching The Shawshank Redemption that you never get tired of seeing it over and over again.  Here is the link to that Farnam Street Blog page