Archives for February 2009

Wizard of Id

Wizard of Id

Quote of the Day

Paulo Coelho

Duty never stopped anyone from following their dreams.
(The Valkyries)

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Today’s Question by the reader : Linda

Best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Don’t follow advices. Try it yourself.

Warrior Of Light Newsletter Issue nº 192 is out!

Issue nº 192 – The second chance

Edií§í£o nº 192 – A segunda chance

Edición nº 192 – La segunda oportunidad

Édition nº 192 – La seconde chance

Edizione nº 192 – La seconda chance

The Winner Stands Alone : Chapter VIII by Paulo Coelho

To read Eighth Chapter of The Winner Stands Alone, please click here.

The Winner Stands Alone : Chapter VIII by Paulo Coelho

She drinks her coffee and begins to understand her bad mood. She’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful women on the planet! She certainly doesn’t consider herself ugly, but there’s no way she can compete with them. She needs to decide what to do. She had thought long and hard before making this trip, money is tight, and she doesn’t have much time in which to land a contract. She went to various places during the first two days, giving people a copy of her CV and her photos, but all she achieved was an invitation to last night’s party at a cheap restaurant, with the music at full blast, and where she met no one from the Superclass. In order to lose her inhibitions, she drank more than she should and ended up not knowing where she was or what she was doing there. Everything seemed strange to her – Europe, the way people dress, the different languages, the phoney jollity – when the truth was everyone was wishing they could have been invited to some more important event, instead of being in that utterly insignificant place, listening to the same old music, and having to hold shouted conversations about other people’s lives and the injustices committed by the powerful on the powerless.

Gabriela is tired of talking about these so-called injustices. That’s simply the way it is. They choose the people they want to choose and don’t have to explain themselves to anyone, which is why she needs a plan. A lot of other young women with the same dream (but not, of course, with as much talent as her) will be doing the rounds with their CVs and their photos; the producers who come to the Festival must be inundated with portfolios, DVDs, business cards.

What would make her stand out?

She needs to think. She won’t get another chance like this, largely because she’s spent all her savings on this trip. And – horror of horrors – she’s getting old. She’s twenty-five. This is her last chance.

While she drinks her coffee, she looks through the small kitchen window at the dead-end street down below. All she can see is a tobacconist’s and a little girl eating chocolate. Yes, this is her last chance. She hopes it will turn out quite differently from the first one.

She thinks back to when she was eleven years old and performing in her first school play at one of the most expensive schools in Chicago. Her subsequent desire to succeed was not born of the unanimous acclaim she received from the audience, composed of fathers, mothers, relatives and teachers. Far from it. She was playing the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. She had got the part – one of the best roles in the play – after auditioning along with a lot of other girls and boys.

Her first line was: ‘Your hair wants cutting.’ Then Alice would reply: ‘You should learn not to make personal remarks, it’s very rude.’

When the long-awaited moment came, a moment she had rehearsed and rehearsed, she was so nervous that she got the line wrong and said instead: ‘Your hair wants washing.’ The girl playing Alice said her next line anyway, and the audience would never have noticed anything was wrong if Gabriela, who knew she had made a mistake, hadn’t promptly lost the power of speech. Since the Mad Hatter was an essential character if the scene was to continue, and since children are not good at improvising on stage (although they improvise happily enough in real life), no one knew what to do. Then, after several long minutes, during which the actors simply looked at each other, the teacher started applauding, announced it was time for an interval and ordered everyone off-stage.

Gabriela not only left the stage, she left the school in tears. The following day, she found out that the scene with the Mad Hatter had been cut, and the actors would instead move straight on to the game of croquet with the Queen. The teacher said this didn’t matter in the least because the story of Alice in Wonderland is a lot of nonsense anyway, but during playtime, the other girls and boys ganged up on Gabriela and started beating her.

This wasn’t so very unusual – it was a fairly regular occurrence – and she had learned to defend herself as energetically as when she, in turn, attacked the weaker children. On this occasion, however, she took the beating without uttering a word and without shedding a tear. Her reaction was so surprising that the fight lasted almost no time at all; her schoolmates expected her to scream and shout and, when she didn’t, rapidly lost interest. For with each blow, Gabriela was thinking:

‘I’ll be a great actress one day and then you’ll be sorry.’

Who says that children aren’t capable of deciding what they want to do in life?

Adults do.

And when we grow to be adults ourselves, we believe that we really are wise beings who are always right. Many children had doubtless been through a similar experience, playing the role of the Mad Hatter or Sleeping Beauty or Aladdin or Alice, and decided there and then to abandon the spotlights and the applause. Gabriela, though, had never before lost a battle; she was the prettiest and most intelligent student in school and always got the best marks in class; and she knew intuitively that if she didn’t fight back at once, she would be lost.

It was one thing to get a beating from her schoolmates – because she could give as good as she got – but it was quite another to carry a failure like that around with her for the rest of her life. As we all know, a fluffed line in a school play, an inability to dance as well as everyone else, or rude comments passed about skinny legs or a big head – which all children have to put up with – can have two radically different consequences.

Some people opt for revenge and try to be really good at whatever it is the others thought they couldn’t do. ‘One day, you’ll envy me,’ they think.

Most people, however, accept their limitations, and then things tend to go from bad to worse. They grow up insecure and obedient (although they dream of a day when they’ll be free and able to do whatever they want), they get married to prove that they’re not as ugly as other kids said they were (although deep down they still believe they are), they have children so that no one can say they’re infertile (even though they wanted kids anyway), they dress well so that no one can say they dress badly (although they know people will say that anyway).

By the following week, the incident at the play had been forgotten by everyone at school, but Gabriela had decided that, one day, when she was a world-famous actress, accompanied by secretaries, bodyguards, photographers and legions of fans, she would go back to that school. She would put on a performance of Alice in Wonderland for needy children, she would make the news, and her childhood friends would say:

‘I was on the same stage as her once!’

Her mother wanted her to study chemical engineering, and as soon as she finished high school, her parents sent her to the Illinois Institute of Technology. During the day, she studied protein paths and the structure of benzene, but she spent her evenings with Ibsen, Coward and Shakespeare while attending a drama course paid for with money sent to her by her parents to buy clothes and course books. She trained with the best professionals and had excellent teachers. She received good reviews and letters of recommendation, she performed (without her parents’ knowledge) as a backing singer for a rock group and as a belly dancer in a play about Lawrence of Arabia. It was always a good idea to accept any role that came along. There was always the chance that someone important might be in the audience, someone who would invite her to her first real audition, and then all those testing times and all her struggles to gain a place in the spotlight would be over.

The years passed. Gabriela made TV commercials, toothpaste ads, did some modelling work, and was even tempted to respond to an invitation from a group that specialised in providing escorts for businessmen because she desperately needed money to put together a proper portfolio to send to all the major modelling and acting agencies in the United States. Fortunately, God – in whom she never lost faith – saved her. That same day, she was offered a job as an extra in a video of a Japanese singer, which was going to be filmed beneath the viaduct of the Chicago ‘L’. She was paid much more than she expected (apparently the producers had demanded a fortune in fees for the foreign cast) and with that extra money she managed to produce the vital book of photos (or ‘book’ as it’s known in every language in the world), which also cost much more than she had imagined.

She was always telling herself that she was just at the beginning of her career, even though the days and months were beginning to fly by. She might have been picked to play Ophelia in Hamlet while she was on the drama course, but life mostly offered her only ads for deodorants and beauty creams. Whenever she went to an agency to show them her book and the letters of recommendation from teachers, friends and colleagues, she found the waiting-room full of girls who looked very like her, all of them smiling, all of them hating each other, and all doing whatever they could to get something, anything, that would give them ‘visibility’ as the professionals called it.

She would wait hours for her turn to come, and meanwhile read books on meditation and positive thinking. She would end up sitting opposite someone – male or female – who ignored the letters and went straight to the photos, not that they ever commented on those either. They would make a note of her name. Sometimes, she would be called in for an audition, about one in ten of which bore fruit. There she would be again, with all her talent (or so she thought), standing in front of a camera and a lot of ill-mannered people, who were always telling her: ‘Relax, smile, turn to the right, drop your chin a little, lick your lips.’ And the result: a photo of a new brand of coffee.

And what happened when she wasn’t called? She felt rejected, but soon learned to live with that and come to see it as a necessary experience, a test of her perseverance and faith. She refused to accept the fact that the drama course, the letters of recommendation, the CV listing minor roles performed in minor theatres, were of no use at all…

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Your Space in my Blog: 19th of February 2009

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Looking for the tree of immortality – Part 2

Paulo Coelho

[…]

On his way back, on climbing a little hill, he remembered that a wise man lived there, and thought: “I have lost all hope of ever finding what I wanted, but at least I can ask for his blessing and beg him to pray for my destiny.”

On reaching the wise man’s house, he could bear it no more and burst into tears.

– Why are you in such despair, my son? – asked the holy man.

– The king charged me to find a tree that was unique in the world, one whose fruit makes us live for ever. I have always fulfilled my duty with loyalty and courage, but this time I am returning home empty-handed.

The wise man began to laugh:

– What you are looking for exists, and it is made of the water of Life that comes from God’s infinite ocean. Your mistake was to try to find a form with a name.

“Sometimes this is called “tree,” other times “sun,” or “cloud,” we can call it anything that exists on the face of the Earth. However, to find this fruit, one must renounce form and seek content.

“Anything that has the presence of the Creation is in itself eternal, nothing can be destroyed.” When our heart stops beating, even so our essence transforms into nature around us. We can become trees, raindrops, plants, or even another human being.

“Why dwell on the word “tree” and forget that we are immortal? We are always reborn in our children, in the love that we show to the world, in each and every gesture of generosity and charity that we practice.

“Go back and tell the king that he need not worry about finding a fruit from some magic tree. Each attitude and decision that he makes now will endure for many generations. So ask him to be fair and just to his people, and if he does his work with dedication, no-one will ever forget him. His example will influence the history of his people and stimulate his children and grandchildren always to act in the best possible way.

And he added: “all those who look for just a name will always be stuck to appearance without ever discovering the hidden mystery of things and the miracle of life.”

“All the fighting that goes on is on account of names: property, jealousy, wealth, immortality. But when we forget the name and look for the reality hiding behind the words, we will have all that we desire – and peace of mind too.”

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Wizard of Id

Wizard of Id

Quote of the Day

Paulo Coelho

The Gift belongs to whoever chooses to accept it. It is enough to believe and not to be afraid to make a few mistakes.
(By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept)

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Today’s Question by the reader : Julian

Do you accept the thought of an intellectual elite, if yes – what is its responsibility?

I believe that a taxi driver and a writer or a gardener can have the same connection with life, and can learn everything if they do their work with love. I do believe that Jesus learned everything while working as a carpenter. It is our attitude towards this life that will inspire us. Be open, take your risks, dare to do something different, this is what life is all about.

The Winner Stands Alone : Chapter VII by Paulo Coelho

Read the Seventh Chapter of The Winner Stands Alone here

Looking for the tree of immortality – Part 1

Paulo Coelho

The famous Persian poet Rumi tells us that one day, in a village in the north of what is now Iran, there appeared a man who told marvelous stories about a tree whose fruit made whoever ate of it immortal.

The news soon reached the ears of the king, but before he could ask the exact location of the such a prodigy of nature, the traveler had already departed.

Nonetheless, the king was determined to become immortal, for he wanted to have enough time to turn his kingdom into an example for all the peoples of the world. When he was a young man he had dreamed of making poverty disappear, teaching justice, feeding every single one of his subjects, but soon realized that this was the work of more than one generation. Still, life had given him a chance and he was not going to let it slip through his fingers. He called the bravest man in his court and entrusted him to find the tree.

The man left the following day carrying enough money to obtain information, food and all that was necessary to attain his objective. He traveled through many towns and over plains and mountains, asking questions and offering rewards. The honest people told him that such a tree did not exist; the cynics treated him with ironic respect, and some crooks sent him off to remote places just to get some coins for their information.

After many disappointments, the man decided to give up his search.

Although he admired his sovereign immensely, he would return empty-handed. He realized that this meant he would lose his honor, but he was tired and convince that such a tree did not exist.

The rest of this story will be posted here tomorrow

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Wizard of Id

Wizard of Id

Quote of the Day

Paulo Coelho

The great blessing of life is the existence of tomorrows – and having dreams to realize.

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

Today’s Question by the reader : Grace

Do you have any rituals or superstitions?

I only write every two years after finding a white feather.

Your Space in my Blog: 18th of February 2009

This space is for you to share your ideas on anything that you consider relevant today.

You can publish here excerpts from your blogs or news and articles in general that you think make a difference to the world today. Try to make a bit of editing on what you post here – try to highlight passages with copy-paste, rather than simply giving links.

Please keep in mind that this blog is currently viewed by 230.000 unique visitors a month, and chances are that many of them are going to read your thoughts.