The bridge and the plank

By Paulo Coelho

After many years of work and meditation on the best way to cross the river that ran past his house, a man created a kind of footbridge out of planks. The villagers, however, rarely used it because it seemed so precarious.

One day, an engineer appeared. With the help of the inhabitants, he built a proper bridge, which infuriated the maker of the footbridge. He would tell anyone who would listen that the engineer had failed to show due respect for his work.

‘The footbridge is still there!’ replied the other villagers. ‘It’s a monument to your years of effort and thought.’

‘Yes, but no one uses it,’ the man would reply tetchily.

‘You are a highly respected citizen and we all like you, it’s just that we find the new bridge more beautiful and more useful than your plank footbridge.’

‘But it’s crossing my river.’

‘Now, however much we may respect your work, we have to say that the river is not yours. We could wade, swim or row across it, but if people prefer to use the bridge, why not respect their wishes? Besides, how can we trust someone who, instead of trying to improve his own bridge, spends all his time criticising someone else’s?’

(Based on a story by Silvio Paulo Albino)

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  1. lamina says:

    dear paulo,
    i feel like i know you through your amaizing stories, i have never been able to read stories, but when started reading your unique stories and the way you write and describe people, i fell in love with reading, for this, i would like to thank you for introducing me to this world, and wish you all the best.

  2. Oriol says:

    Dear Paulo Coelho, I didn’ know that exists this blog. I’m very happy to follow your opinions here. I met you in the Rainbow Bridge Project in Poland, 5 years ago, and you impressed me so much.

    With my best regards from Spain!
    Good luck

  3. raul says:

    Estimado Sr: Paulo Coelo. He leido muchos de sus escritos en el diario La Prensa (panamá). Por este medio me he enterado de que usted existe.los escritos que he podido leer me han servido de mucho,pues siempre que leo algo suyo siento que lleno mi alma de esperanzas. Si, así­ es. Con tantas cosas malas que pasan a nuestro alrrededor cada persona nesecita leer cosas que lo motiven, y veo que en cada escrito usted busca darle una guí­a a las personas de cambiar las cosas malas que hacen o que son obligados hacer.
    Sin mas y esperando que el señor le siga dando salud, para que siga llenando la vida de personas como yo de EXPERANZAS.
    Se despide su amigo Raul….

  4. DANMAT says:

    soy su admiradora de verdad quisiera ser como usted y escribir asi es la musa de mis imaginacion

  5. Jim Courbis says:

    My river….a bit like my God….Our Father……..”Mon” in french like a mountain…. un mont………if you believe…every “Mon”…will dissapear…….into the SEE!!!!!!
    Kind Regards Paulo
    Jim Courbis in… In Hear In …In Her…Inner

  6. wein says:

    this is really true…a lot of people criticizes others without checking on their own self…It’s a shame that some people just tried doing everything to please others rather than appreciating themselves. acknowledging their gifts and sharing it with others.

  7. Ohh yeah! Great, great! One more time, a great message! :D

    Thank you! Blessings into your path!

    Marta :)