Everything will come to dust

By Paulo Coelho

The fiestas in the Spanish city of Valencia involve a curious ritual, which has its origins in the ancient community of carpenters there.
During the year, artisans and artists make gigantic wooden sculptures. In the week of the fiesta, these sculptures are placed in the middle of the main square. People look, pass comment, and feel amazed and moved at such creativity. Then on St Joseph’s day, all these works of art – apart from one – are burned on a huge bonfire, before thousands of onlookers.
‘All that work for nothing!’ said an Englishwoman at my side, while the vast flames rose up to the skies.
‘You too will come to an end one day,’ replied a Spanish woman. ‘Just imagine if an angel were to say to God then: "All that work for nothing."’

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  1. Marie-Christine says:

    Valencia -esta historia es similar al que de los Monjes en Japon.
    Esto es una idea buena asi podemos comenzar a ver cosas diferentamente. Finales de puerta se ciera,el otra se abre.

  2. Nieves says:

    Vivo en Valencia. Me siento feliz de vivir aquí­. La Cremá de las Fallas nos enseña que la vida comienza una y otra vez. Y lo importante que es pensar sobre la mejor manera de conseguir unas Fallas mejores el año próximo.

    Si puedes, ven y vive las Fallas. No se necesita invitación. Sé bienvenido. Tú también, Paulo. B7s

    I live in Valencia. I feel happy to live here. The ‘Cremá’ (burn) of the Fallas show us that life begins one and another time. And how important is think about the best way to get a better Fallas next year…

    If you can, come here and live the Fallas. No invitation required. Be welcome. You too, Paulo. Kisses

  3. Josephine in Brussels says:

    Just like sandculptures or sculptures in snow and ice. Or the ritual sandpaintings made by the Navajo.

  4. tom says:

    This is one thing I fear. I would like to leave a legacy behind and be remembered for the right reasons. But apparently there is a proverb or saying that warns you of trying to get your name remembered. I look back thousand of years and see some people that are still remembered today. Julius Caesar, King Leonidas and of course Achilles. In another 2000 years time I wonder wether there will be obscenely out of proportioned legend about nelson mandela and winston churhcill. Well, a man can dream.

  5. A.V.C. says:

    So difficult to fully comprehend and emotionally accept, the importance of endings as the starting point for new beginnings, the importance of death to life, the importance of regeneration.

  6. Esteban says:

    I’ve been to Las Fallas – the festival in which Paulo is talking about. It’s incredible. Fireworks going off as the burning is goin on. The size of these statues can make some of them stand 3 stories high. Just a few days worth of events and partying and fun. If you get the chance its definitely worth seeing for yourself.

  7. Kathleen says:

    That’s a fantastic answer.

    The purpose of it is to create wonder and joy at that particular festival, then you have to make way for new creations, new wonders to behold. By having it only for a short time, you make sure to appreciate it.

    Aditya, thanks for sharing your story as well.

    Kathleen xx

  8. aditya says:

    In India we have scores of festivals where very intricate, beautiful statues of gods/godesses are made, beutiful designs are drawn and soon enough the idols are immersed in water / beutiful designs painted over. as a young boy I was sad to see the beautiful idol of goddess durga getting immersed in water, the same one which we had worshipped for 5 days, the world revolving around the idols during teh Durga pooja celebrations, i was sad to see the beautiful ‘aripans’ being erased, almost as lovingly as they were created.

    I was puzzled and asked my father ( to whom I turn even now for all my complex peoblems ), he answerd in his usual light, smiling speech, so that we accept the idea of non permanence of physical beings, relationships, readily.


  9. Tania says:

    Nurturing the soul through beautiful surroundings ..what a gift that would be to see those sculptures through the eyes of light.
    Now that is a ritual !!! Blessings Tania

  10. Pichu says:

    “Then on St Joseph’s day, all these works of art – apart from one – are burned on a huge bonfire, before thousands of onlookers”

    Is it that we must be like the artisan? and Artist? printing our lives in works of art, so our acts, words, thoughts, be kept safe, as a fine piece of art that wont be taken to grave with us.

    Why become a waste in Gods Time!? Theres something we must do or create, that must stay in this world for eternity.

    “‘Just imagine if an angel were to say to God then: “All that work for nothing.”‘

  11. Chus says:

    I have always thought that the best of the way is every step you take, not what happens at the end of it.

    Beautiful words to las fallas :)

  12. Nancy says:

    The last couple of lines really made sit up. What if an Angel did say that? The entire human race can be gone just like that. What if God agreed. :)

  13. wanbliska says:

    Une parole de grí¢ce et d’éveil. Oí¹ l’Espagne est un petit paradis.

    ‘Just imagine if an angel were to say to God then: “All that work for nothing.”= ‘Imagine juste, si un ange avait dit í  Dieu: “Tout ce travail pour rien”‘

    Pourtant beaucoup ont du penser que ce travail ne servait í  rien. Car toujours, ils mirent la perte.

    Thanks Paulo, for that divine breathe.

  14. agnieszka says:

    Dear Paulo,

    Every moment we live
    we should enjoy,
    every second we breathe
    we should be greatful for,
    every tear, every smile,
    we should embrace,
    every person that comes
    we should love,
    every life is worth giving
    yourself away.


  15. Marie says:

    Quite! Ha ha! Brilliant.
    But what about the one who/which does not get burned on the fire?
    Perhaps, this is the ‘one’ that will always remain, the ‘one’ that we all are???