Keeping open to love

Paulo Coelho

There are moments when we would like very much to help someone we love deeply and we just can’t seem to do a thing. Either circumstances prevent us from drawing closer or else the person has shut off to any gesture of solidarity and support.

So, all we have left is love. In those moments when everything is useless, we can still love – without expecting anything in return, any exchanges or thanks.

If we can manage to act in this way, the energy of love begins to transform the universe around us. When this energy appears, you always perform your work successfully.

“Time does not change men. Will power does not change men. Love changes men,” says Henry Drummond.

I read in the newspaper about a child in Brasí­lia who was brutally beaten by his parents. As a result, she lost her body movements and her power of speech.

Admitted to the Base Hospital, she was taken care of by a nurse who said to her every day: “I love you.” Although the doctors guaranteed that she could not hear and that the nurse’s efforts were all to no avail, she kept repeating: “I love you, don’t you forget that.”

Three weeks later on, the child had recovered her movements. Four weeks later, she started to talk and smile again. The nurse never gave any interviews and the newspapers did not publish her name – but let it be registered here, so that we will never forget: love is a great healer.

Love transforms, love heals. But at times love builds mortal traps and ends up destroying the person who has decided to surrender completely. What strange sentiment is this that deep down is the only reason for us to go on living and struggling and trying to make things better?

It would irresponsible of me to try to define it because, like any other human being, all I can do is feel it. Thousands of books have been written about it, plays put on at the theater, films produced, poems scribbled, sculptures carved in wood or marble – and even so, all that the artist can convey is the idea of a feeling, not the feeling itself.

But I have learned that this feeling is present in the small things and manifests itself in the most insignificant of attitudes we take, so we must always have love in mind when we act or fail to act.

Picking up the phone and uttering that affectionate word we have been putting off. Opening the door and showing in someone who needs our help. Accepting a job. Leaving a job. Making that decision that we were putting off for later. Apologizing for a mistake we made that will not leave us in peace. Claiming a right that we have. Opening an account at the florist’s – which is more important than the jeweler’s. Playing the music loud when your loved one is far away and lower the volume when he or she is nearby. Knowing how to say “yes” and “no” – because love involves all of man’s energies. Discovering a sport that can be practiced by two. Not following any prescription, not even those listed in this paragraph – because love calls for creativity.

And when none of this is possible, when all that is left is loneliness, then remember a story that a reader once sent me:

A rose dreamed day and night about having the company of the bees, but none ever came to land on her petals.

But the flower went on dreaming: during many a long night she imagined a sky with lots of bees flying towards her and kissing her tenderly. In this way she managed to resist to the next day, when she opened again to the sunlight.

One night the moon, knowing how lonely the rose felt, asked her:

– Aren’t you tired of waiting?

– Perhaps. But I have to struggle on.

– Why?

– Because if I don’t open up, I will wither.

At moments when loneliness seems to crush all beauty, the only way to resist is to keep yourself open.

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