In a bar in Buenos Aires

By Paulo Coelho

Dear readers,
Today is the last story of this book of mine called “Fathers, Sons and Grandsons”.
As promised here’s the illustration made by Christina Oiticica for you to download.
Fathers, Sons and Grandsons ( image version)
fathers-sons-and-grandsons.pdf ( pdf version )
Love,
Paulo

In a bar in Buenos Aires

I am with the Venezuelan writer Dulce Rojas, drinking coffee in Buenos Aires; we are discussing the idea of peace and how removed it has become from the human heart. Dulce then tells me the following story.

A king offered a large prize to the artist who could best represent the idea of peace. A lot of painters sent their works to the palace, depicting woods at dusk, quiet rivers, children playing on the sand, rainbows in the sky, drops of dew on a rose petal.

The king examined everything that was sent to him, but ended up choosing only two works.

The first showed a tranquil lake that perfectly mirrored the imposing mountains surrounding it and the blue sky above. The sky was dotted with small white clouds and, if you looked closely, in the left-hand corner of the lake there stood a small house with one window open and smoke rising from the chimney – the sign that a frugal but tasty supper was being prepared.

The second painting was also of mountains, but these were bleak and stony with sharp, sheer peaks. Above the mountains, the sky was implacably dark, and from the heavy clouds fell lightning, hail and torrential rain.

The painting was totally out of harmony with the other submissions. However, a closer look revealed a bird’s nest lodged in a crack in one of those inhospitable rocks. In the midst of the violent roaring of the storm, a swallow was calmly sitting on its nest.

When he gathered his court together, the king chose the second picture as the one that best expressed the idea of peace. He explained:

‘Peace is not what we find in a place that is free of noise, problems and hard work; peace is what allows us to preserve the calm in our hearts, even in the most adverse situations. That is its true and only meaning.

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Comments

  1. eleonora says:

    ‘La pace non è ciò che troviamo in un luogo che è libero di rumore, dei problemi e il duro lavoro, la pace è ciò che ci permette di conservare la calma nei nostri cuori, anche nelle situazioni più avverse. Questo è il suo significato vero e unico.

  2. chana says:

    The swallow anticipates that the raging storm with its rains will bring forth growth, thus food.

    But if, for arguments sake, the swallow does not have any imagination for the ‘future’, its blessing and its curse is that it acts within it’s given nature – and that nature is to brave the storm. It’s focus – its focus of existence – at any moment is to continue to exist, and to bring life into the world.

    Seperating now the kings interpretation of the painting from the actual painting:

    Whilst I agree with this particular king that during times adversity true peace is what allows us to preserve the calm in our hearts, nevertheless – one must ask – does this peace also allow calm to be preserved in the hearts of others?

    Essentially what this asks is, can there be true peace in any one place in the world whilst there are yet other places where others suffer, (even if they be ‘the enemy’)? Is this the tranquility found when one hides from the rest of the world, waiting to be found, or is this the tranquility which embraces and challenges the rest of the world to join in with?

    Also, is life and reality ever as simple as questions like this?

  3. wanbliska says:

    Indeed: heart is the “place that is free of noise, problems and hard work”. If ever we will.

    I wish you all Peace to improve yourself.

  4. Monika says:

    The problem is that people overestimate normal daily stress situations and little discomforts totally – they are nerved at once and have no patience to bear something without losing good mood. In a sense they are spoiled and cannot treasure the blessing of being simply alive. They have forgotten the true meaning of peace.

    Once being in the middle of a life-threatening storm the only chance is finding that true peace inside you the swallow on its nest represents. Having the storm survived you have a different attitude on daily stress and discomfort – they seem not to be so important anymore and you meet them with calmness.

    1. m paul says:

      All of us earthlings are swallows, almost. The is no more than the fragile nest. made even more inhosprtable by tons of polluting material everyday by us in the name of “development”, humanity along with its fragile eco system survives only by the skin of its teeth. What a painting we have shaped Mother Earth into!

    2. m paul says:

      All of us earthlings are swallows, almost. The is no more than the fragile nest. made even more inhosprtable by tons of polluting material everyday by us in the name of “development”, humanity along with its fragile eco system survives only by the skin of its teeth.What a painting we have shaped Mother Earth into!

  5. Maria says:

    In the words of Saint Agustine “The heart is of God and for God and it will not rest until it returns to God” The only way to have real peace in our heart is when we are in communion with God.

  6. Agnieszka says:

    Beautiful…Annie
    lots of love :-)

    and Paulo,
    the pictures, beautiful indeed.

    love
    Agnieszka

  7. Tania says:

    Beautiful Illustration for the Father, Sons , and Grandsons.Blessings Tania

  8. Tania says:

    Oh why did you tell this story today !!I just hit a bird on the way to school this morning it flew straight into the passenger window ! Myself and the children where sick , we had to send it to the light with a beautiful angel >>>
    and it hit my heart straight away ,bang . I agree with the second picture -thats how it is in the real world ..Blessings Tania..

  9. Petr says:

    Peace and the king, very closely related themes, and so inconsistent either.

  10. Agnieszka says:

    Amazing story.

    It is so hard to find peace in today’s life, where everything is about money, luck of time, business, carrier, etc., where people often look at you, like you are some kind of competition, enemy…

    But…
    peace is something… you don’t look for on the outside,
    it is something that comes from the inside, from someone’s soul, from the heart, where… the light is,
    where you can find… God.

    Nothing, and nobody can give you peace, but you… yourself, if you eager to look for it, if this is what you crave for…what you desire,
    if this is what your heart needs.

    love
    Agnieszka