The blackbird comes to a decision

An old blackbird found a piece of bread and flew off with it. When they saw this, the younger birds pursued him in order to attack.
Confronted by imminent battle, the blackbird dropped the piece of bread into the mouth of a snake, thinking to himself:
‘When you’re old, you see things differently. I lost a meal, it’s true, but I can always find another piece of bread tomorrow.
“However, if I had hung on to it, I would have started a war in the skies; the winner would become the object of envy, the others would gang up on him, hatred would fill the hearts of birds and it could all go on for years.

“That is the wisdom of old age: knowing how to exchange immediate victories for lasting conquests.’


  1. Dee says:

    24th Feb is my birthday and this is exactly my philosophy. Wish everyone open their eyes and see the hollow reality of ambition.

  2. Dyn says:

    Creo que la sabidurí­a, no es inherente a la vejez. La sabidurí­a proviene de corazones cultivados en amor e iluminados por la escencia del todo. El Mirlo pudo comer el trozo de pan en el lugar dónde lo encontró.

  3. Sarah says:

    I think our wisdom comes from our experiences and the situations we go through…the most important thing is to to learn from our experience!

    1. Beata says:

      Exactly! But it is still only our wisdom (our life experience). The right wisdom comes first of all from …!

  4. Lintang says:

    Wisdom does not comes up with our age, but they do comes up with our experiences, which is actually affected by our age. We need to see the whole world in order to understand this world. And well, it does comes up with age if we see it that way. Eventhough you’re accelerating or so like you do in acceleration class, we do need time in order to process all of those things in our mind. And we would also need something to compare with, that’s why we need experiences, lots of them. And the ones with the most experiences are the elderies. Guess that’s why aged people said to be waaaay more wise than the young ones. Well, I’m still standing on my tiptoes, just in the beginning of my lifetime (that is if I live long enough).

  5. Daniel says:

    YES! War is not started when someone attacks, it begins when someone RETALIATES.

    Remember the story of how zen monks bamboozled the warlords by refusing to retaliate and by being fearless in the face of death and hostility. When asked to teach this fearlessness, they obliged and fortresses became temples.

    1. miguel xiques says:

      A beatiful analogy…but then …how you name agression????….The gift of waiting..can also be a useful tool of victory…..Time is a precious be used wisely…in war and peace…

  6. rima chandra mohan says:

    tanku sir..i hope everbody remember these words as they live their life and understand where to use it..lets hope everbody start’s to trust the voice of their heart..

  7. Nisa says:

    Temporary Give-up does not mean that you have failed, but the key point is the consequences from that failure that lead you to a greater victory. We all have choices but are we using them correctly is the question. Thank you Mr. Paulo, what a profound thinking!

  8. ishita says:

    lovely thought indeed.
    thank you for such inspirational verses. that help us take major events of life in a balanced way.

  9. arleth says:

    absolutely. In this troubled times, what the world needs is a selfless love.

  10. The wind says:

    we all come to one at some point… listen get off my life… unworthy loser… go die with your demons

  11. rosa says:

    eso es muy cierto a medida que pasa el tiempo y con nuestros aprendizajes ,dejamos que algunas cosas pasen , no por ello dejamos de luchar al contrario buscamos la excelencia

  12. Shahar Caren Weaver says:

    Ha! I thought that the young birds would attempt to get the bread from the snake and get attacked by it…..poetic justice.

    1. Lurlene says:

      The birds also understood the lesson.

  13. Marie-Christine says:

    “Le merle prend une decision”

    Un vieux merle a trouve un morceau de pain et s’envole avec. Lorsqu’ils s’apercurent de cela les plus jeunes oiseaux se mirent a le poursuivre pour l’attaquer.

    Confronte par une bataille imminente, le merle laissa tomber le morceau de pain dans la bouche d’un serpent, en pensant :

    “Lorsque tu es age, tu vois les choses d’une autre maniere. J’ai perdu un repas, c’est vrai mais je peux toujours trouver un autre un autre morceau de pain demain.
    Cependant si je l’avais garde, j’aurais commence une guerre dans les cieux, le gagnant serait devenu l’objet de l’envie, les autres se seraient allies contre lui, la haine aurait rempli les coeurs des oiseaux et cela aurait pu durer pendant des annees.

    “C’est la sagesse de la vieillesse ; savoir comment echanger des victoires immediates contre des conquetes durables.”

  14. mona says:

    this is not really wisdom … We must fight to defend our right … Even if it was simple, even if we can achieve a new victory every day …blackbird tired to find a piece of bread as it happens with anyone in life to have a victory, and the victory happens after the hardship … And not easy to give up my victory even if I will fight to the death .. and why give the victory achieved to someone else?? for fear of facing the enemies!!! … that act of cowards ..( Who can to give up the little thing can give up big thing and Who do not appreciate the value of victory and fight for what he has does not deserve the victory ) it’s my wisdom

    1. Umar Farooq says:

      nicely said
      but sometime we have to withdraw to win the battle
      try to think this story like that
      if the war was going on it would kill some one and what will be end result no one will be able to get that piece of bread and will be hurt badly. but the old bird withdraw to keep the strength to achieve something next day.

    2. lisa says:

      i prefer your wisdom, mona

    3. Saad says:

      Intelligent… very nice…
      Sometimes withdrawal or giving up or stepping back is the best policy in order to secure a superior gain. The bird sacrificed and gave up all his attainment of the day in a second to secure the future generation. Time… the best coach…

    4. kevin says:

      I am totally agree with Mona

    5. Satora says:

      Mona, Mona what happened to your smile?
      “While I thought I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.”
      Leonardo Da Vinci

  15. Pam says:

    Won’t it be a quite sad that you’re being the victim? :(

  16. Mel says:

    This makes me a bit confused.

    In some of your books, you said we should do what we want regardless of what people think, right?

  17. Mad65 says:

    This story has to be bear in mind by all politicians….but it’s too good to be true…I’m dreaming!

  18. Respected sir,
    I have read many of your books and also am following your blog. You once had made a unique statement. If you really want something the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. I had been in love recently. The universe played its role in making me meet her. I also was able to achieve somethings which were important. But she refused for our relationship as we belong to different castes. Here in INDIA thats a huge issue. For me just her personality and her identity is more than enough. I want to go further I love her a lot I tried forgetting her for all practical reason but its been a year and I cannot forget her. On the other hand she does love me she made a statement when I proposed her she said “I always wished someone to love me so much and I dont know when my dream started to come true” but now she is backing off because of family pressure she does not even want to give it a try. I am very sad and now I have lost all my smiles. I can work hard and earn good money, I can be very funny but what I cannot do is live without her ……………….She is the only dream I want to come true in my life. I deeply love her and everyday pray to God for the same like a kid every morning starts with a tear and every day there are just tears in my eyes. I just know one thing I love her a lot I want her in my life forever Sir do u really believe that the universe does conspire then why has the universe left me alone ………………My faith in God is now coming to an end. As all my prayers also are not being answered ……………….Sir please help me either to find a way to get her or a way to forget her and live my life positively please sir I beg you to suggest a way to get her more likely thanking you please reply to me on the above mentioned email address ([email protected])

    1. Fedz says:

      like mr coelho stated in his book Eleven Minutes, no one loses anyone.. because no one own anyone. So you didn’t lose your girl. Maybe she also doesn’t know what to do. Live your life to the fullest. Try to go on with your life. Sometimes we have to wait in order to have our wants.

    2. Priya says:

      Hi Kunal, I really feel for you. It is not easy to forget someone you love. But the greatest pleasure in love is to see happiness on the face of people we love. If it makes her happy to take the decision she has taken, then respect it and move on. If she is hurting as much as you are, then do not let her go no matter what. Women sometimes feel that people should understand them even if they dont speak their minds out loud. So if she is truly in love and is hurting, she may be waiting for you to take her out of the misery.

    3. NITIN says:


    4. Dominica says:

      I agree

  19. Marina says:

    Here is my story: my mother had a beautiful fur coat and my sister cut off a small piece from the underneath to sew something for her doll toy ( my sister is 2,5 years older than me) and since there is only two of us, if she would not be honest to admit that she did it, then I would be under “fire”. So, my mother told us, that until the one who did it won’t confess, she won’t talk to neither of us. I knew that I didn’t do it, so it was obvious that my sister did it. I was waiting for her to come up to our mom and tell her the truth. Never happened! I was so upset and crying and scared that my mom wouldn’t talk to me that I said I did it. Stupid? I guess, after all I was 5 y.o. and I wanted my mom back talking and not being angry. I don’t think I was wise at that age, I just wanted piece!!!! lol

  20. vartika says:

    really awsum

  21. me says:

    <3 I love this


  23. Geetha Anand says:

    Wonderful words of wisdom!!

  24. irma says:

    muy bueno como siempre una enriquecedora enseñanza

  25. Mei says:

    Its so truth… the black bird story. The email i post had melted the ice rock with one of my blog friend which i think a war is start. If we can let go something to safe our problem for later… for things we don’t like to happen, let go that piece of bread is a good thinking. I love your story Mr Coelho.

  26. Lizzie says:

    I see this as the bird sacrificing it’s immediate needs for the greater good, not for “lasting conquests”.

  27. Doghudje says:

    I don’t get it. Is this story encouraging mediocrity, discouraging excellence and achievement? Why can’t the other birds get their own piece of bread? So, those who are brightly colored should dull their colors just to please others. How can the world make progress like this?

    1. keyla says:

      El tema es la Serpiente y el Pan

    2. vicky says:

      Doghudje, love what you wrote! And agree. I was a brightly colored bird once who dulled her colors to please others with disastrous results. Those people are finally out of my life now and I am once again becoming a bright colored bird! The one I always was.

    3. Daniel says:

      The bird is still a bird. You are not the things you posses. I am a peaceful man. I dislike violence. I will not give that up for a piece of bread. This does not make me any less a warrior. I will stand firm on what I believe with courage and honour and thus I will win the battle, for I am fearless in the face of malice and self-righteousness.

  28. Mahi says:

    Very impressive 1 :)

  29. Lia Viesanthy Rio says:

    thank U for the wisdom…:)

  30. juli says:

    A good message to youngesters. Thanks to author

  31. Anu R says:

    Few sacrifice gives peace of mind!!!

  32. Empié says:

    Estos dí­as he estado trabajando unas 13 horas por dí­a con una panda de jovenes hormonados que estaban luchando por su pocición dentro del grupo como corresponde a la gente de su edad; yo vengo de donde vengo, y me ven como un adversario sobre el que sobresalir; cada pequeña decisión se convertí­a en una lucha por llevar la razón y quedar por encí­ma, antes luchaba porque yo también era adolescente(por segunda vez en mi vida), comprendí­ que es mejor dejar de competir porque mi lucha no es por una posición dentro de un grupo, cedí­ y vencí­, quizá alguno en su pequeño mundo me crea un perdedor pero solo porque el mundo que conoce es muy pequeño

    Hasta pronto.

    Por cierto, ni todos eran iguales, ni dejan de ser mis compañeros, me lo he pasado muy bien con ellos y son buena gente. Un saludo a todos ellos.

  33. rouwee says:

    when you’re old enough you will always think that experience is the best teacher… no regrets! :)

  34. abeer says:

    but why did the bird gave it to the snake and not to the younger birds ?? to give them a lesson to try and get their own food ?? or to make them fight with the snake ?? i dnt understand this part ?? he did them no goog .. the bird only saved itself from a fight .. is that all ?? save urself .. but dnt give in to younger birds?? the bird is mean !!

    1. Kawthar says:

      I guess he is not selfesh, the bird thought of all team’s benefit which is not to fight and not to envy each other…but i think that something is missing in this story thats fights are a must in world and everyone should fight for his advantages not violating others at the same time.

    2. yvonne says:

      even if he fight he will lose so he decided not to. if another bird got the bread from him, the other birds will envy that bird and another fight will break and a cycle will be form. by dropping the bread, he can go on with his life and look for another bread without fighting. brave people know when to fight and when to avoid a fight that they cannot win.

  35. Javier Gustavo Gaitán says:

    No tengo casi tiempo para sentarme a leer en el computador, y por eso me parecen maravillosos esos mensajes concisos, cortos, que en muy poco espacio dejan una lección de sabidurí­a para el dí­a (o la noche). Gracias, mister Coelho, seguiré visitando sus páginas!!