‘It is the desire to walk that creates the path ahead; however, when we set off on the journey towards our dream, we feel very afraid, as if we had to get everything right first time. But, given that we all live different lives, who decided what ‘getting everything right’ means?’
The author of novels such as The Alchemist and Veronika Decides To Die, Paulo Coelho offer glimpses of magic in the greatest, smallest and simplest things in Like the Flowing River through a collection of anecdotes, reflections, thoughts and stories.
Some chapters are very short, merely a few paragraphs. Finishing those chapters may leave you feeling empty – as if a story is suddenly cut short half-way through. Yet as you let the minimal words sink in, you realise you were meant to fill in the empty spaces yourself – with your own thoughts, your own reflections, meanings and dreams.
It’s always fascinating to hear how others see the world, the universe, and Paulo Coelho sees enchantment and more in the simplest, most mundane occurrences of daily life. In Prepared For Battle, But With a Few Doubts, the simple act of weeding a garden becomes a contemplation of humanity’s interference with nature and likened to ‘wielding the power of life and death.’ How to Climb Mountains reveals a path (among many) to make our dreams a reality. The Importance of the Cat in Meditation makes us question ‘how many of the things we do are really necessary and how many are simply absurd’.Even more fascinating are Coelho’s thoughts on dreams and death. In My Funeral and Living Your Own Legend, he reminds us of the ever-present entity that is Death and how, despite the fear that comes hand in hand with our sense of mortality, we should not fear something inevitable, something we cannot control. Instead, we should use this fear as our motivation to pursue the dreams we set aside for reality, for practicality, for that pay check – ‘Death is always by your side so that, when you need to do something important, it will give you the strength and the courage that you need.’
Like the Flowing River reminds us to dream – no matter how big, no matter how absurd. In On Rhythm and the Road, we are reminded to ‘follow our own rhythm’, to dance to our own tune – to keep dancing whether we have the support of others or even if we have to dance alone. In The Art of Trying, we are encouraged to embrace change and to be ‘unashamedly contradictory. You have that right; it doesn’t matter what other people think, because they’re going to think something anyway.’
This collection gives us glimpses, snippets of the mundane and if you look closer, magic hides behind the words. Although there may be some stories that get lost, that may not resonate with everyone, you’ll sure to find one that speaks to you. In those strange moments where the words seem to reflect back on your life, it’s as if they were written especially for you. And that’s the fascinating thing about words, isn’t it – how you can sometimes see yourself looking back from the page?
Like The Flowing River was published by HarperCollins in 2007.