Trees and towns

By Paulo Coelho

In the Mojave desert, one often comes across those famous ghost towns that were built around the gold mines. They were abandoned when all the gold had been mined out. They had served their purpose and there was no reason for anyone to go on living there.

When we walk through a forest, we see trees which, once they have served their purpose, have fallen. However, unlike ghost towns, their fall has opened up space for light to penetrate, they have enriched the soil and their trunks are covered in new vegetation.

Our old age will depend on the way we have lived. We can either end up like a ghost town or like a generous tree, which continues to be important even after its fall.

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  1. Leaf says:

    I see a ruinous building with a tree growing through it
    – I hope it's the one Santiago sleeps under.

  2. Bob says:

    Did I teach my children well?
    Was it well enough that they will teach their children well also?
    Will the example I have tried to be, stay with those who come after me?

    The only person I can expect to change in my lifetime is me.

    If I have left some fertile soil behind, I give thanks for that opportunity

  3. Leaf says:

    The Sycamore tree in Autumn
    soaking up the cool, bright sun
    the leaves giving shade to the seeds, flexing their wings
    Yes, soon will the strong winds blow
    what a sight
    the great number of seeds, all as one, spiral and spin through the air
    who doesn’t wish them great distance?

    each leaf
    parched from protecting the promise of potential replanting
    watching the sun melt into the horizon
    awaits a moment still as death
    while no breeze nor breath it falls
    at the foot of the life-giving tree
    to become warmth
    and nourishment for,
    throughout the white Winter weather
    asleep as one
    dreaming again
    of Spring.

  4. A.V.C. says:

    As always, the outside nature provides an interesting mirror of our inside correspondence.


  5. Leaf says:

    I see a ruinous building with a tree growing through it
    – I hope it’s the one Santiago sleeps under.

  6. Leeca Desforges says:

    I have a student who sent me a poem this morning. In it, she wrote that her brother had stolen her childhood. Had fed her cocaine and pills in return for sex, for years. Her parents knew about it, and did nothing. So much pain and suffering. So much strength. My troubles are nothing compared to this brave girl. I am a tree. She is a leaf, holding on for now, and when she is ready, she will let go and fly with the wind, and perhaps share some of her strength with the world.

  7. agnieszka says:

    Dear Paulo,

    one thing I know,
    when you are.. good,
    you really can touch heaven,
    love rules.
    it’s worth trying,
    worth giving..
    yourself away.


  8. rainer says:

    I like this post. It is true. If we are clever enough to survive and become of age, we should prepare for our life as old people or we may end up as a deserted person, whose destination vanished