The Challenge – what’s this all about?

| January 16, 2010 | 74 Comments

On January 1st, 2010, Paulo Coelho published on his blog a challenge: whoever is able to answer twelve questions, follow them to geographical locations and document one’s being there, will receive a sword and some prize money. The trip will take one on a trip of approximately 1,500 kilometers and it’s not just straight trough because one has to meet real people and they might not be at their homes or workplaces when one shows up. So time becomes kind of uncalculable in this journey, plus one has to leave what he’s doing and also just get there, which in my case means crossing the Atlantic first.

When I read the challenge, I understood it immediately as a personal call to go and do it, get the sword. I spent a while thinking about it, about my motivations and came to the conclusion that I will go and visit all locations, solve all additional tasks there in order to receive my sword. Whether it will be the physical sword that is the prize, that I don’t know – neither if I’m going to be the first one to arrive. What I understand as my sword is the journey itself, the planning of which (including solving the 12 questions) has excited me already like nothing else in the last 20 years or more.

Since I can think, I have been carrying inside myself the seeds to stories but struggled planting and growing them. My real journey of life has now begun with this challenge; almost instantly I knew (finally!) what to do. The outcome is secondary, but I’m on my way!

Issues and worries will present themselves, in fact, they already have. But I will proceed and share all of it. I don’t know if that will be of interest to anybody but then: this is my very personal calling and it doesn’t really matter; important is for me just to do it and to share with me and eventually also with others because it simply gets out the seeds from inside.

I’m not a student nor retired, a working man with lots of work on his hands and I have a family, wife and kid. It’s not like I can simply leave and say “see you when I see you” and have fun following a sword. But very much like Fatima in the Alchemist, my wife gave me her blessing and knows that “the men of the desert” have to follow the signs and pursue the dream of which she has been a part of.
As to the work, as I mentioned, I have already a lot of it and the way I am planning to do the journey for me, even adds to it with additional writing and a trip being away. At this point, I really don’t know whether and or how I will be able to continue with everything else. But the challenge touched a part of my soul that makes it impossible not to heed the call!

And of course, there is the positive thinking inside, the belief in a positive outcome; as Bernard Shaw put it “The power of the dream exists in the believing.”

Bernard Shaw wrote really interesting stuff and I discovered him only recently really, when I came across him for the second time after many years and I want to close for now with quoting him on success, which I hope to achieve:

Fear holds us and binds us and keeps us from growing.  It kills a small piece of us each day.  It holds us to what we know and keeps us from what’s possible, and it is our worst enemy.  Fear doesn’t announce itself; it’s disguised, and it’s subtle.  It’s choosing the safe course; most of us feel we have “rational” reasons to avoid taking risks.  The brave man is not the one without fear, but the one who does what he must despite being afraid.  To succeed, you must be willing to risk total failure; you must learn this.  Then you will succeed.

Once more I thank you, Paulo! You may have saved my life just another time.

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Category: Quest of the Sword

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  • DB

    Good luck in your journey. Confront the fear with everything you’ve got. Follow your heart. 😀

  • Berno

    good luck!! follow your heart when lost… enjoy the experience and let us know all the details!!! my best wishes from mexico!
    post the pictures here ok?

    ill see you when i see you

  • JC

    Hey fellow!

    I wish you the best!
    It’s very inspiring to see someone really going after one’s dream.

    Felt pretty alone yesterday… hehe…

    I’ve found some pretty good clues and got some things I’m pretty sure are the “answers” until the fifth stop. Altough, I think “answering” is the way, not just a goal. So I think what I know won’t be of ineterest to you.

    May the light be with you, It probably will.


  • Paul Lüggen

    May Your Path Be Blessed!

    Thank you so much for making us part of this great journey.

    We will be following you…

    Many blessings,


  • Teri

    Hey there,

    This is so exciting! Congratulations on following your dream — that is such a treasure in life. I can’t wait to read about your journey. Keep us updated!


  • Reijiro

    good luck! keep at it!

  • Sara

    Good luck! Have a blessed journey.
    I wish you faith and patience.

  • Issa

    wow, this is so interesting! GOODLUCK! and yes, please keep us updated ….with photos i hope 😉

  • Pilar

    Good luck Santiago!!!!! God bless you!!!
    good travel!! sigue las señales, viaja hasta donde pelayo miro las estrellas, busca al hombre que hace candelas bajo la luz de la luna, busca el refugio y que la paz siempre este alli 😉 busca la virgen negra, donde esta al pie de la montaña , busca el monasterio donde Pilar lloro a su rio, busca donde el agua es magica y pura y cura, sigue buscando, y suerte!! a por la espada!!!!!! Dios te bendiga

    con amor

  • Maria Jose

    Me encanto!! Bien por ti! Una vez mas nos demuestras que depende de las desiciones que tomemos, de ver ese instante mágico y no dejarlo pasar! Mucho éxito!!!

  • Anderson Marques

    Boa sorte!

    Anderson from Brazil [].

  • Jess

    God speed good thoughts.


    Hi dear friend Warrior of the Light. Good luck and remember that the Journey is really what matters!
    Ithaca by Constantinos Kavafis, a poem that Paulo Coelho loves.
    Regards from Cyprus,

  • celestial regalo

    Beautiful! Have fun!

  • Satora

    From my heart I wish you all the best for your journey.
    Enjoy every step…
    My prayers are with you.

    With loving kindness,


  • yannis

    hello from the uk.

    it seems like you have yr head in the right place and you are going for all the right reasons.

    i wish you the best of luck, fellow warrior of light.

    follow your heart, find your sword, i have a feeling that you will be successful, and for some reason i have a feeling that you deserve it.

    keep fighting the good fight

  • Ileana Rdz

    Buena suerte!!
    Estoy segura que este viaje te dejara lleno de experiencias y llenara tu vida y la de los que te rodean!!
    De verdad yo quisiera hacerlo!! pero aun hay algo dentro de mi que me impide romper las cadenas

    En ti pongo todo mi espiritu del guerrero de la luz…

    Hazlo por favor!

  • ELizabeth

    Good Luck to you. YOu might not even read this but i wanted to let you know[just in case u read this]that my best wishes are with you; cause u are going to do this. I hope one day I can do my one journey this one is yours cause u knew this was the time. Again de best of luck i be praying for you well being.

  • Dances With Crayons

    Yesss! Best wishes on your journey, god speed and good hunting : )

  • Eva

    Dear Santiago.
    I am so happy for you, that you will go on your journey. I wish you all the best en hope you will find what you are looking for on the way.
    My prayers will be with you and your family.
    It ia a great privilage that you let us share your journey, I thank you for this.
    I only hope I will be ready to take mine too some day.
    Blessings from Eva

  • kristi

    Good Luck!

  • Terra

    safe paths and may you find what you look for…

  • HomeLessChic

    many blessings my friend!

    i await your return from such voyage!

  • Cripzy

    Wow! I feel so proud and moved today by reading about your adventure I can hardly express it…
    Santiago te deseo el mayor de los exitos en esta empresa que comienzas y agradesco que nos brindes la oportunidad de conocerla, se que todos nosotros como universo conspiraremos para ayudarte con nuestro apoyo.

  • Caroline

    Good Luck. I was reading about the challenge, when he first posted it and it sounds like it would be such an ultimate life changing experience, and only wish I could undertake such a journey as this.

    I’m incredibly envious.. lol . I wish you all the best on your Journey, I know you will have so many stories to tell when you are back and good luck finding the sword!!! Your life is going to change in such an amazing way!!!

    All the best….

  • Soheila

    Best wishes on your discovery…Just read Paulo’s announcement about you.. I will follow you daily 🙂

  • Laelia

    Dear warrior of Light, I woke up this morning reading your blog and you gave me inspiration and comfort. Thank you for that. Follow your heart always, don t forget about your sixth sense, remember that this is the strongest sense we were born with, but that unfortunately our society has taught us to repress it. It will come back, when you will hear that voice, don t ignore it, it will tell you the right thing to do. Keep us posted, I will follow you with my soul during your journey…xxx Laelia

  • Diana

    Whish you all the best Santiago… although i think you have what might be the most important… Youre awake ;)!!!
    May you be blessed for that!

    Sending all may support from Portugal and the UK! lllolll

  • filiz

    hi there!

    I hadnt read Paolo’s challenge but when I read his update on FB, I couldnt that someone has responded this challenge he put out there…it’s a fairy tale when humanity has been losing its faith in magic…I am thrilled that you decided to go on this journey, magic exists! bon voyage!
    I am on a similar journey myself, standing face to face with fear of looking at my own life in deep quiet and stillness…
    here is a poem I dedicate to all the journeyers and say YES to life!

    the journey

    When you hear the wind blowing
    Or listen to the silence of the ants
    And your heart expands with the sight of an owl
    Sway your infinite body with hymns of life
    Often unnoticed, your wild craves to find her expression
    Like the hidden smells in a moist tree trunk
    Your deepest desires reside in your belly
    Waiting to meet light and life
    Waiting to be released and tended to make you stronger
    The more you own of yourself, the stronger you will become
    And with sudden explosions of consciousness
    Experiencing fire and ice, in and out, birth and death, joy and grief
    You will slowly unfold your authentic Self
    Until the day you will stand in your wholeness
    Tired but firm, worn but beautiful,
    Infinite and eternal.

  • Spyros Bkr

    Good luck friend!!enjoy ur journey!!take only the nessesary photos!live the rest of the journey!!

  • Andrea de Kauwe

    I’m wish you well, safe travels and above all I hope you enjoy your journey. I have been dreaming of embarking on it myself, however, adventure it seems is for the rich, and so I will resign myself to following your blog and vicariously living the quest through you. God bless you with love and many welcoming smiles and a helping hands wherever you go. Andrea

  • Andrew

    God bless you, who pursue dreams.
    When I thought I’m hopeless, I saw your blog.
    An omen it is, that I am not forgotten.

    Thanks for the subtle reminder.

  • Monika

    Dear follower!

    you are not just following your dreams, you are also the first one! Very inspiring and brave.)

    I wish you a great journey! I am sure you will be blessed on your way.)
    greetings from Prague

  • An

    Have a great journey:)

  • graig

    blessings for your journey, may you find all you need, keep your sword clean and sharp!

  • Nadine Montille

    This is very courageous………I wish ya find more than the sword….
    and blessing to your wife and kids

    take care

  • linda

    Bless you. Hope you find what you’re looking for 🙂

  • montega

    Good luck 🙂

  • Ulla

    As much as you knew you had to do this journey I know I’m bond to read your blog. Wishing you all the best, being happy and amused that my name is part of the first task you have to do. I never knew that there was a river called Ulla and am looking forward to reading about the first leg of your journey 🙂 Best of luck !!

  • Tara

    Good Luck on your journey!

    I’m excited for you and look forward to haring about your journey along the way. Just like I think Santiago’s journey became my personal journey as I read it – so too will your journey.
    Have a great time on your adventure!

  • Florence

    Wow ! 🙂 Best of luck to you ! Enjoy the Journey ! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Theresa Goubran-Keshta

    May God bless and guide you on your journey and lead you safely home.

  • angela

    congratulations : ) have a safe journey …

  • Monica

    You Go Santiago!!!!!

    May you find a clean path to you dreams
    May God walk along your side
    and Best of all May you find the Dream on this Quest!!!!
    Good Luck to you!!!!

  • angela

    congratulations : ) have a safe journey …and enjoy yourself

  • Michelle

    Dear WOL,
    Im writing to you from India and i donot know if you will read this.
    I read Paulos book the Pilgrimage and wondered howcome no one has walked the path to find their soul.
    I know and have this feeling this hope this wish that you find the sword and your soul as you walk the journey.
    i know you are going to be successful regardless and when you return your wife and kid will be proud of you.
    Blessed be

  • Maria

    Great post! Just do it; there’s no day like today. You cannot fail. 🙂


  • angshu

    have a great journey!! looking forward to read all about it! good luck!!


  • Mary

    Rock on my brother! May the quest hold you in it’s power and provide abundant gifts. Blessings to your wife.

  • Oralia

    I bless your divine presence , and i send to you light and strenght.

  • veronica S.

    Wow! Have a great journey. I hope you will find your legend if not a sword. You are an inspiration to follow one’s heart. Please keep us posted about your life changing journey.


  • http://facebook kenneth macsween

    Fantastic well done that man!!!!
    God’s speed be with you

  • Maggie

    Your determination is everybody’s dream even in the silent and most sensitive place of our hearts and souls……my tears of joy for you and hope for me just fell…….Hope that you find what you’re after…….Good Luck and please keep us informed……

    from my heart

  • Rosemary

    I admire your courage. Blessings,
    Rosemary 🙂

  • Kostas Politis

    Good Luck my friend. Hope you´ll find your Ithaca…

  • anusha

    May the divine be with you.
    You have already taken the first big step….overcoming your fear.The step which is the hardest for most of us.There is something that helps me, iam sharing it with ya in case.

    When in difficulty,pray for guidance before making a decision.Men can give you advice only as far as their intelligence can reach,but HE who illuminates the intellect will reveal to you the way out of the difficulty.Have patience and wait prayerfully.Prayer can bring about the impossible.

    Good luck my friend.

  • http://Facebook Neena

    May successe shain up on you,all the best… :))

  • Falko

    I’m with you brother!
    Still on my way to find my sword. Or better: to regain the one I already had!
    But faith, hope and love are a good company and guide 😉

  • Kourosh Kavian

    Fortune favours the brave,Good Luck Paulo.

  • Suzanne Fernandes

    Take care….
    Sending love and blessings….
    Good luck….

  • Lia

    All my blessings to you and your wuonderful family!!!

  • Shivang

    This is great! Best of luck for your journey!


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  • Athena

    I want to go with you. please let me go with you.

  • armelle

    enjoy the adventure!.. cool blog and quote from bernard shaw. Good on you for having the balls to go on and do it!

  • Osman

    Wow! Im really impress, i have the best wishes for you…That’s it!Follow you heart and there will find your treasure! Keep us posted!

  • seham&lelya

    we think the sword in the inspiration

  • http://facebook Maxxximuzzz

    I’m glad you’re able to take on the challenge, I was hoping to do it myself this year, but as you mentioned things get in the way…anyway, this is about you and not me :] so I wish you THE BEST OF LUCK IN YOUR PERSONAL QUEST, WHATEVER YOU MAY OR MAY NOT FIND, I THINK YOU’LL FIND the WHY YOU WENT THERE IN THE 1ST PLACE ;D

  • Mirela Baron


    Take care….cause i am waiting just for a SIGN …and I ´ll be with you,If GOD WANT!



  • Lynsymo

    My soul flies with you on your quest and I avidly wait to hear your adventures.

  • Olivia

    Your challenge, challenges me.. Blessings !!!!!.. already a winner…

  • malak-zala


  • Karin from Zambia

    To a true warrior – well done Santiago. You have fought an impeccable fight. What an inspiration you are to us all! I’ll be toasting a glass of champagne to you tonight!
    Love and graTitude