Narcissus and the Lake

9:23 PM

Myth always used to fascinate me. More than the story, it was the interpretations that I loved. The following is an extract from "The Alchemist" by world renowned author, Paulo Coelho.

"The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought. Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus.

The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.

But this was not how Oscar Wilde, the author of the book, ended the story.

He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.

“Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked.

“I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.

“Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”

“But…was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.

“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder. “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!”

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:

“I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful.
“I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

“What a lovely story,” the alchemist thought."

So many different reasons and interpretations one can make from it. When I first read this, I had so many reasons as to why Narcissus had to spend the whole of his life at the lake.

When Narcissus bent down at the river he saw his own reflection and fell in love with it, and the river did the same thing as well. Even the lake saw, in Narcissus's eyes its own beauty that it failed to see in anyone else's eyes. Maybe there was, an invisible understanding, or rather, a comfort that each found in the other.

Narcissus, was undoubtedly self obsessed, and one may say it was "vanity" at its highest. But maybe, Narcissus, despite the fact that he was proud, only found comfort in the lake (as his true friend), and when he died, he gave the "one and only" precious thing to him back to the lake - his own self and body.

Sometimes, I feel that both failed to realise the beauty in anything else but themselves. There was so much beauty in the world around them. Narcissus failed to realize the love of a nymph named "Echo" who was in love with him.

As I mentioned earlier that they both found comfort in each other, they also found "love" through each other. Only the lake could make Narcissus feel love for himself and vice versa. Its a very important note even in our day to day lives. Only some people in your life can make you realize you are wanted and that you can "love". 

As the saying goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". What I find beautiful is not what you would. And not every single person in your life is going to make you feel that you are. But there will be a Narcissus who will make you feel beautiful, because you deserve that. Afterall, aren't we all that lake, waiting eternally for that Narcissus to arrive and look through us to finally make us realize ourselves?

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  1. I love your interpretation of this story. It's very insightful. I often find that some never go a level deeper than misunderstanding to fully understand. Thank you

    1. You are most welcome. Thanks for dropping by with your valuable comment :)

  2. Superp writeup ...Love, cat ...

    1. Thank you for your comment.Yours is a wonderful blog btw ;)

  3. At first, I thought that the lake was narcissus too. After contemplating the story for some time and the fact that the Alchemist said it was a lovely story, I thought there must be a deeper meaning. Only the lake could feel the love that the boy has and each time the boy knelt at her banks, she felt the beauty and love that only she, the lake could receive because the lake is pure love and looking for nothing else. She felt the love that the boy has and in return saw her own beauty.