Stay in the desert

By Paulo Coelho

‘Why do you live in the desert?’ asked the gentleman.
‘Because I cannot be what I want to be.’
‘No one can, but we all have to try,’ said the gentleman.
‘It’s impossible. When I start to be myself, people treat me with false reverence. When I am true to my faith, they begin to doubt me. They all believe that they are more saintly than I am, but they pretend to be sinners for fear of mocking my solitude. They are constantly trying to show me that they consider me a saint, and thus they become transformed into emissaries of the Devil, tempting me with pride.’
‘Your problem lies not in trying to be who you are, but in not accepting how other people are. And if you carry on like that, you had best stay in the desert,’ said the gentleman, and with that he left.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet


  1. lara says:

    hi mr.paulo coelho..may i ask if what are the similarities of your novels-the zahir,veronika decides to die and eleven minutes? we are doing a research about your novels..thanks!

    1. Paulo Coelho says:

      Besides the style (being simple without being superficial) each book is a different one, answering a different question I have

  2. Mary-Ann says:

    hi magus paulo coelho!you’re really a brilliant capture the heart of the many and i guess i am one of them.i’m a fourth year college now here in the Philippines,an ab english student who will be graduating this of our requirements and is really in our curriculum is to write a thesis that will be our legacy in our know i had made your two best selling novels,the alchemist and the pilgrimage as my specimen texts in my study entitled The Journey-Quest motif of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and The that okey???=)

    please emaill me at [email protected].
    i really want your insights.
    thank you so much.

  3. Leaf says:

    Hi Jenny,
    Your english is understandable enough, well done – I wish I had made the effort to understand another language, but the beauty of english is that I can recognize its roots in many other languages, so can understand written foreign words.
    Anyway, you say, we behave as the other person expects us to behave….which may be true to a point, although maybe not true to ourselves, because in that process, the point is, WE have already made an expectation of what we believe the other person would expect….do you see my point?
    So, maybe the answer is, do not expect anything, of yourself, or the other, give only the best of yourself, and receive the best back, unexpectedly.

    I was going to suggest imagining one ‘awkward’ person, to being a ‘favourite’ person, and treat them as if they were, and you are free to be you – but that may be an exercise to do or ignore, at your leisure.

    Jenny, why do you prefer to be like the others?
    You are perfectly you, appreciate them, for them BUT love you for being you, we are all meant to be different…maybe you see similarities in these people….the real similarity is you, meaning, you know them – that’s what they have in common, and if they want you to be like them, then you don’t need them, you need more time to be yourself, even by yourself…there you will naturally grow to be who you wish to be.
    ‘A warrior of light doesn’t care that to others at times he may appear mad.’
    ‘We are all born different, and should do our uttermost to remain so.’
    Lovingly misquoting Paulo again.

    Love to you, Angel, thanking you.
    Love to all, always.

  4. Alexander says:

    Magnific!! Mister Coelho you are my Idol… are very wise!!!! hugs for you!!!!and lot of love!!!!

  5. jenny says:

    sometimes i can’t even accept myself. i always find myself different from the others. and it really bugs me. i do try to change myself to be the same as the others, but then my heart tells me that i have to be myself, not be another person. is that because i can’t understand the other people, or is it a different matter?

  6. karen- says:

    I don’t have an answer, but in my life, I had feell that everyone, i had meet, see me in a different way. there was some people that I can feel myself and other that look to me in a way that a can’t feel mine…I don’t know if it’s because of me or not…but I think that ourselves look for to behave whath the other espect to ourselves, we must don’t have fear of the other.
    sorry I don’t know if the concept is clear in english!

  7. marie says:

    I’m laughing because this has solved a problem of mine :D

    lots of hugs

  8. it is always about others
    the eternal source of pain

    we will be free if we learn to accept ourselves as we are, and then they accept us

    we will be free if we establish peace between ourselves and the outer world, knowing that god created all creatures in a way to complete each other, even if they are opposites

    my best regards to you

  9. Cristina says:

    Muuuuuy cierto.