1 min reading: The mechanism of terror

An old legend tells of how a certain city in the Pyrenees mountains used to be a stronghold for drug-traffickers, smugglers and exiles. The worst of them all, called Ahab, was converted by a local monk, Savin, and decided that things could not continue like that.

As he was feared by all, but did not want to use his fame as a thug to make his point, at no moment did he try to convince anyone. Knowing the nature of men as well as he did, they would only take honesty for weakness and soon his power would be put in doubt.

So what he did was call some carpenters from a neighboring town, hand them a drawing and tell them to build something on the spot where now stands the cross that dominates the town. Day and night for ten days, the inhabitants of the town heard the noise of hammers and watched men sawing bits of wood, making joints and hammering in nails. At the end of ten days the gigantic puzzle was erected in the middle of the square, covered with a cloth. Ahab called all the inhabitants together to attend the inauguration of the monument.

Solemnly, and without making any speech, he removed the cloth.
It was a gallows. With a rope, trapdoor and all the rest. Brand-new, covered with bee’s wax to endure all sorts of weather for a long time.

Taking advantage of the multitude joined together in the square, Ahab read a series of laws to protect the farmers, stimulate cattle-raising and awarding whoever brought new business into the region, and added that from that day on they would have to find themselves an honest job or else move to another town. He never once mentioned the “monument” that he had just inaugurated; Ahab was a man who did not believe in threats.

At the end of the meeting, several groups formed, and most of them felt that Ahab had been deceived by the saint, since he lacked the courage he used to have.
So he would have to be killed. For the next few days many plans were made to this end. But they were all forced to contemplate the gallows in the middle of the square, and wondered: What is that thing doing there? Was it built to kill those who did not accept the new laws?
Who is on Ahab’s side, and who isn’t? Are there spies among us?

Little by little the rebels’ initial courage was replaced by fear; they all knew Ahab’s reputation, they all knew he was implacable in his decisions. Some people abandoned the city, others decided to try the new jobs offered them, simply because they had nowhere to go or else because of the shadow of that instrument of death in the middle of the square. One year later the place was at peace, it had grown into a great business center on the frontier and began to export the best wool and produce top-quality wheat.

The gallows stayed there for ten years. The wood resisted well, but now and again the rope was changed for another. It was never put to use. Ahab never said a single word about it.

Its image was enough to change courage to fear, trust to suspicion, stories of bravado to whispers of acceptance.

- Paulo Coelho, “The Devil and Miss Prym”

The word

The word

The word is the final intention of someone who wishes to share something with his neighbour.

William Blake said: all that we write is the fruit of memory or the unknown.
If I can make a suggestion, respect the unknown and look there for your source of inspiration.

The stories and facts remain the same, but when you open a door in your unconscious and let yourself be led by inspiration you will see that the way to describe what you have lived or dreamt is always far richer when your unconscious is guiding the pen.
Every word leaves a memory in your heart – and it the sum of these memories that forms sentences, paragraphs, books.

Words are as flexible as the tip of your pen, and they understand the signs on the road.

Sentences do not hesitate in changing course when they make a discovery, when they spot a better opportunity.
Words have the same quality as water: they go around rocks and adapt to the river bed, sometimes turning into a lake until the depression has filled up and they can continue their journey.

Because when words are written with feelings and the soul, they do not forget that their destination is the ocean of a text, and that sooner or later they have to arrive there.

Your pen

All the energy of thinking is eventually shown in the nib of a pen.

Of course, here we can substitute nib by ballpoint, computer keyboard, or pencil, but the nib of a pen is more romantic, don’t you think?
To get back to the theme: words eventually condense an idea.

Paper is just a support for this idea.
But the pen will always remain with you, and you must know how to use it.

Periods of inactivity are necessary – a pen that is always writing ends up losing the awareness of what it is doing.
So let it rest whenever possible, and concern yourself with living and meeting your friends.

When you return to the business of writing, you will find a happy pen with all its strength intact.
Pens have no conscience: they are an extension of the writer’s hand and desire.

They serve to destroy reputations, make us dream, send news, trace pretty words of love.
So always be clear about your intentions.

The hand is where all the muscles of the body, all the intentions of the person writing, all the effort to share what he feels, are concentrated.
It is not just a part of his arm but an extension of his thought.

Hold your pen with the same respect that a violinist has for his instrument.

Thy neighbour’s garden

YOU can give a fool a thousand intellects, but the only one he will want is yours,’ says an Arabic proverb.
When we start planting the garden of our life, we glance to one side and notice our neighbour is there, spying.
He himself is incapable of growing anything, but he likes to give advice on when to sow actions, when to fertilize thoughts, and when to water achievements.

If we listen to what this neighbour is saying, we will end up working for him, and the garden of our life will be our neighbour’s idea.
We will end up forgetting about the earth we cultivated with so much sweat and fertilized with so many blessings. We will forget that each centimeter of earth has its mysteries that only the patient hand of the gardener can decipher.
We will no longer pay attention to the sun, the rain, and the seasons; we will concentrate instead only on that head peering at us over the hedge.

The fool who loves giving advice on our garden never tends his own plants at all.

-from the book, “Like the flowing River”,

Super Soul Sunday (Part 2)

My interview with .@Oprah
Part 1 (Full episode, Sep 07)

“What made you nervous about Adultery?”

Interview by Joy Horowitz for Goodreads

Paulo Coelho is a man of contradiction. The 67-year-old Brazilian author is an unparalleled success—known for his 1988 bestseller, The Alchemist, which is the most translated book in the world by a living author—yet he sees himself as a dreamer and a depressive. His parents committed the rebellious youth to an asylum three times, and as a lyricist whose songs were critical of his country’s military rule in the 1980s, he was imprisoned and tortured. Still, he remains a joyous man, married to the same woman for 35 years and deeply grateful for “surviving the tempests” of change that have permitted him to publish one novel every two years.

To date, he has written 30 books, including By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, The Fifth Mountain, Veronika Decides to Die, The Devil and Miss Prym, The Valkyries, The Witch of Portobello, and Brida. In his new novel, Adultery, a journalist and wife and mother in her late thirties confronts the monotony and melancholy of her perfect life when she bumps into her high school boyfriend—and soon risks everything to rediscover her true self. Goodreads author and interviewer Joy Horowitz spoke with Coelho, who splits his time between Rio de Janeiro and a country house in the Pyrenees Mountains of France, about his new book, how his astonishing 21.4 million Facebook followers and 9.4 million Twitter followers played a hand in its genesis, and why choosing to live a safe and comfortable life may be the worst thing we can ever do.

GR: What made you nervous about writing this book?
PC: Nothing. Nothing.

GR: Really?
PC: The title. Yes, because people say, “Nobody will buy your book called Adultery and give it to his wife or husband or mother.” I said, “Sorry, that’s the title of the book, and it can’t change.” The reviews in Amazon are very mixed, many 5 stars and many 1 star, but that is part of life. I need to be honest to myself and write what I feel I should write

GR: I would think it would be the opposite. I would think you’d have huge sales for a book called Adultery.
PC: [Laughs] So far the book is doing extremely well. It’s number one on the bestseller list in all countries it’s been released, including here in France. Then people tease me a little bit, “Oh, my wife didn’t want me to read this book.” It’s funny, because a lot of men are reading this book.

GR: Why did you decide to make your protagonist a woman?
PC: Because it is more difficult to accept adultery in a woman than in a man. I don’t know why, but people take for granted that men are unfaithful. But women in general never would do this terrible thing. So I said, OK, let’s hear the woman’s voice on the subject.

GR: I’m curious—why is her husband nameless?
PC: Many times you have books with a lot of names, and you start getting confused. I don’t think I gave a name to the wife of the politician. Oh, yes, yes, she has a name. I don’t remember the name, but she has a name.

GR: Do you like writing sex scenes?
PC: They’re not the main part of the book. But I love to write the sex scenes, because I like to write her inner moments or her moments of joy.

GR: Is that more of a male or female fantasy?
PC: It can be both to have this fantasy. We both have this fantasy.

GR: Do you think that depression and betrayal go hand in hand?

PC: Let me tell you how I decided to write this book. In the beginning I was thinking about discussing something that was relevant to people, because I have this huge social community on Facebook and Twitter and GooglePlus. Look at my page on Facebook and you will see. But I said, I’m so famous, so popular, why not discuss something that would be relevant? I thought that depression is the main issue of today. So I said, OK, I’m going to post something about depression, and I want you to interact with this. I’m not going to mention your name. Please send your experiences and opinions to this email. In 24 hours I got more than 1,000 answers. Out of the 1,000 answers, I heard about clinical depression. Many said, “I’m depressed because somebody betrayed me.” The problem is not the lack of pharmachemical components in your body. The problem is people feel betrayed, and life loses its meaning. So I said, OK, let’s talk about betrayal.
But it was overwhelming how people would answer me. And the extent of the written posts [was so great] that I thought I’d do a book. So I started going to forums—anonymously, of course—to check how people react and how people regret, one of the key issues. The first impulse is, “I’m going to get a divorce and I’m going to separate because I’ve been betrayed.” But then they regret. A one-night stand is a one-night stand. So little by little this book started as interactive posts. Then I sat down and wrote a book based on the experiences of people.

GR: The book is really a meditation on marriage and how it’s constantly in flux.
PC: I’ve been married for 35 years. I’m walking here in the countryside now with my wife by my side. And at the end of the day, she is a completely different person, physically and mentally, from the person I married 35 years ago. So am I. But people normally marry, and then they want that locked in time, so they think they’re not going to change. We’re going to change. Everybody’s going to change. So accepting that changes are part of our lives makes marriage a blessing and not a curse, because love is stronger than anything else.

GR: In the book you write, “Love isn’t just a feeling. It’s an art. And like any art, it takes not only inspiration but also a lot of work.” What do you mean?
PC: Giving space for the other to grow. Controlling jealousy that leads to nowhere. Basically, I think these issues are the key to surviving the tempests. Are you married?

GR: Yes, for 37 years.

PC: So you know what I’m talking about.

GR: One of the pivotal issues in the book is the protagonist’s recognition of her being alone—whether we love to avoid dealing with our own loneliness in the world.
PC: This is a sensation I have. So probably I was projecting myself because sometimes, regardless what you do, there are moments you have these things to give, to share, but people don’t understand. They say, “But you’re so successful. You have a lot. You have money. You have fame.” Sometimes this is not enough. Sharing is the basis of everything.

GR: The book is also about aging: “After a certain age, we put on a mask of confidence and certainty. In time, that mask gets stuck to our face and we can’t remove it.” Is that part of the monotony, the ritual, the boredom you write about relative to marriage?

PC: Probably the fear of monotony. You go to these parties, and everybody seems so happy. It just drives me crazy. I don’t go to parties, by the way. But when I’m forced to go and everybody is smiling and happy, I know it’s hypocrisy. When I go to these celebrity parties with all these actors and actresses, they’re always smiling to each other, but they really want to kill the other.

GR: That jealousy is an important motivating factor in the book.
PC: Absolutely. The consequence. A one-night stand is totally different from an adulterer’s relationship. People can understand or hide if you went to bed with someone else. But adultery lies in passion, and passion is something that’s harder to share. You really feel you are being cheated.

GR: Goodreads member Joyce Rigal writes, “In your book your protagonist is dissatisfied even though she has everything, because she isn’t living her truth. Have you experienced a moment in your life when you weren’t living your truth, and how did you find the clarity and courage to live it?”

PC: The answer is yes, and it was in 1986. I had everything. I had money. I had the same wife I have now. I was a successful composer and lyricist, but I was not happy. Then I decided to walk from France to Spain—the road to Santiago de Compostela, a site of Catholic pilgrimage. At the end of this spiritual journey, I said either I forget my dream of being a writer or I write my first book (Pilgrimage), which I did. But it’s not easy. You have to choose between being joyful (but not necessarily happy) and facing your challenges or trying to live a comfortable life and being safe. The second choice is the worst, because you can’t feel safe. Nothing is safe. A thunderbolt could hit me and I could die. So nobody can be safe: You don’t know when you’re going to die. So better to choose the agony and ecstasy of living a life that fulfills you.

GR: Goodreads member Holland says, “Thank you for writing your books. They have added magic to my life. How do you think dreams serve us in life? How do you use dreams in your books and why?”
PC: Dreams are what justify life. Dreamers are people who really changed this world. I believe in dreams. I followed mine. I paid a very high price at the given moment, but I do not grieve. I think a person without dreams is a tree without roots. So dreams are the language of God. Dreams, for me, are my daily bread.

GR: Goodreads member Anthony Karakai writes, “Today’s marketplace is dominated by romance and thrillers, and it appears that magical realism—outside of your novels—is not as strong as it was in the ’80s and ’90s. Where do you see the genre going?”

PC: It is true that we’ve lost this connection with magical realists because they [publishers] thought maybe this was not politically correct, that people would not read it. I’m only speaking for myself. This is the way for me to express myself. So the person who asked this question—he’s totally right. Magical realism is about not having evidence for everything. And at the end of the day this is the reality. Because emotions are much more powerful than what’s happening around you. You are guided by your emotions.


“We women, when we’re searching for a meaning to our lives or for the path of knowledge, always identify with one of four classic archetypes.

“The Virgin (and I’m not speaking here of a sexual virgin) is the one whose search springs from her complete independence, and everything she learns is the fruit of her ability to face challenges alone.

“The Martyr finds her way to self-knowledge through pain, suffering, and surrender.

“The Saint finds her true reason for living in unconditional love and in her ability to give without asking anything in return.

“Finally, the Witch justifies her existence by going in search of complete and limitless pleasure.”

in Brida

“You came here because you saw a female face in the flames. That face is the face you see now in the mirror, so try to honor it. Don’t let yourself be weighed down by what other people think, because in a few years, in a few decades, or in a few centuries, that way of thinking will have changed. Live now what others will only live in the future.

“What do you want? You can’t want to be happy, because that’s too easy and too boring. You can’t want only to love, because that’s impossible. What do you want? You want to justify your life, to live it as intensely as possible. That is at once a trap and a source of ecstasy. Try to be alert to that danger and experience the joy and the adventure of being that woman who is beyond the image reflected in the mirror.”

in “The Witch of Portobello”

The perfect leader

A reader sends me a questionnaire in which he presents the profile of three world leaders who lived in the same period of history, and asks if it is possible to choose the best one using the following data:

Candidate A was associated with witch doctors and often consulted astrologists. He had two mistresses. His wife was a Lesbian. He smoked a lot. He drank eight to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B never managed to hold down a job because of his arrogance. He slept the whole morning. He used opium at school, and was always considered a bad student. He drank a glass of brandy every morning.

Candidate C was decorated a hero. A vegetarian, he did not smoke. His discipline was exemplary. He occasionally drank a beer. He stayed with the same woman during his moments of glory and defeat.

And what was the answer?

A] Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

B] Winston Churchill.

C] Adolf Hitler.

So what, then, is leadership? The encyclopedia defines it as an individual’s capacity to motivate others to seek the same objective. The bookstores are full of texts on this theme, and the leaders are normally portrayed in brilliant colors, with enviable qualities and supreme ideals. The leader is to society as the “master” is to spirituality.

This, however, is not absolutely true (in either case). Our big problem, especially in a world that is growing more and more fundamentalist, is not allowing people in prominent positions to commit human mistakes.

We are always in search of the perfect ruler. We are always looking for a pastor to guide and help us find our way. The truth is that the great revolutions and the progress made by humanity were brought about by people just like us – the only difference being that they had the courage to make a key decision at a crucial moment.

A long time ago, in my unconscious, I changed the word “leader” for the expression “warrior of light”. What is a warrior of light? Warriors of light keep the spark in their eyes. They are in the world, are part of other people’s lives, and began their journey without a rucksack and sandals. They are often cowards. They don’t always act right.

Warriors of light suffer over useless things, have some petty attitudes, and at times feel they are incapable of growing. They frequently believe they are unworthy of any blessing or miracle.

Warriors of light are not always sure what they are doing here. Often they stay up all night thinking that their lives have no meaning.

Every warrior of light has felt the fear of joining in battle. Every warrior of light has once lost faith in the future. Every warrior of light has once trodden a path that was not his. Every warrior of light has once felt that he was not a warrior of light. Every warrior of light has once failed in his spiritual obligations.

That is what makes him a warrior of light; because he has been through all this and has not lost the hope of becoming better than he was.

That is why they are warriors of light. Because they make mistakes. Because they wonder. Because they look for a reason – and they will certainly find one.

“I can’t pray alone”

Just when she is rejected by everyone as crazy or possessed by the devil, Saint Teresa of Avila meets the Jesuit Francisco de Borja.

“I can’t pray alone,” she says. “I need to seek the memory of the Creator in the fields, in water, or in the flowers. Prayer is a hard task for me, like drawing water from a well.

“At first I manage to draw just a few drops, and these soothe the dryness of my soul. But little by little the bucket fills up, and I have increasingly less work to water these spiritual fields. Finally the moment arrives when this water turns into rain, and the Creator waters my soul, without me doing any work at all.”

“Well, don’t forget to read this book of the Creation,” answers Francisco de Borja.”There, in nature, is where the Father has written his best lines.”

Oprah Winfrey interview Part I


FULL EPISODE: Oprah and Paulo Coelho, Part 1 – VIDEO HERE

Part II: Next Sunday, Sept 14, Paris: 17:00
Worldwide simulcast at 11 a.m. NY; 11am LA; 7pm London; 11:30pm New Delia; 3am Tokyo; 4am Sydney;
Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires 12:00 hr ; Colombia 10:00 hr


The hand that stretches the bow

“When my bow is stretched, a moment arrives when, if I don’t fire the arrow immediately, I feel that I am going to lose my breath,” the German Eugen Herrigel says to his master.

“As long as you try to provoke the moment of firing the arrow, you won’t learn the great art,” answers the master.

“The hand that stretches the bow must open like a child’s hand opens. What sometimes hinders the precision of the shot is the archer’s over-active will. He thinks: “What I fail to do will not be done”, and that’s not quite how things work. Man should always act, but he must also let other forces of the universe act in their own due time.”

My 25 important points

1. When you want something, the whole universe conspires to make it happen.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

2. Detach from all things and you will be free.
“When I had nothing to lose, I had everything.”

3. We are all here for a purpose.
“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”
“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.”

4. The only thing standing between you and your dream are your fears.

“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

5. Mistakes are part of life.
“Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn’t have the courage to say “yes” to life?”

6. Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies meet.

“Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other. Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn emotionally. These meetings are waiting for us, but more often than not, we avoid them happening. If we are desperate, though, if we have nothing to lose, or if we are full of enthusiasm for life, then the unknown reveals itself, and our universe changes direction.”

7. Every experience, either good or bad, comes with a lesson.

“There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.”

8. Do not seek for love outside of you.
“Love is not to be found in someone else but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that, we need the other person.”

9. When you change, the whole world changes with you.
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

10. No reason is needed for loving.
“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”

11. Mind your own business.
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

12. When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.

“No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.”

13. Love is an untamed force.

“When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.”

14. Wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.
“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

15. Judge not.
“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”

16. Children have valuable lessons to teach you.

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”

17. Appreciate the contrast of life.
“Never be ashamed,’ he said. ‘Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.’ ‘How will I know which is which?’ ‘By the taste. You can only know a good wine if you have first tasted a bad one.”

18. Nobody’s responsible for how you feel or don’t feel.

“In love, no one can harm anyone else; we are each responsible for our own feelings and cannot blame someone else for what we feel.”

19. Your beliefs shape you and make you who you are.
“You are what you believe yourself to be.”

20. Let go of the need to explain yourself.
“Don’t explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you.”

21. Love changes everything.

“It is not time that changes man nor knowledge the only thing that can change someone’s mind is love.”

22. Don’t mistake elegance with superficiality.
“Elegance is usually confused with superficiality, fashion, lack of depth. This is a serious mistake: human beings need to have elegance in their actions and in their posture because this word is synonymous with good taste, amiability, equilibrium and harmony.”

23. When you do work from your soul, the critics won’t hurt you.
“I write from my soul. This is the reason that critics don’t hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am.”

24. Each day brings a miracle of its own.
“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.”

25. Embrace your authenticity
“You are someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that in my view is a serious illness. God chose you to be different. Why are you disappointing God with this kind of attitude?”
“You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.”
“If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule – Never lie to yourself.”

The Last Night of the World


by Ray Bradbury
Originally published in the February 1951 issue of Esquire

“What would you do if you knew this was the last night of the world?”

“What would I do; you mean, seriously?”

“Yes, seriously.”

“I don’t know — I hadn’t thought. She turned the handle of the siilver coffeepot toward him and placed the two cups in their saucers.

He poured some coffee. In the background, the two small girls were playing blocks on the parlor rug in the light of the green hurricane lamps. There was an easy, clean aroma of brewed coffee in the evening air.

“Well, better start thinking about it,” he said.

“You don’t mean it?” said his wife.

He nodded.

“A war?”

He shook his head.

“Not the hydrogen or atom bomb?”


“Or germ warfare?”

“None of those at all,” he said, stirring his coffee slowly and staring into its black depths. “But just the closing of a book, let’s say.”

“I don’t think I understand.”

“No, nor do I really. It’s jut a feeling; sometimes it frightens me, sometimes I’m not frightened at all — but peaceful.” He glanced in at thhe girls and their yellow hair shining in the bright lamplight, and lowered his voice. “I didn’t say anything to you. It first happened about four nights ago.”


“A dream I had. I dreamt that it was all going to be over and a voice said it was; not any kind of voice I can remember, but a voice anyway, and it said things would stop here on Earth. I didn’t think too much about it when I awoke the next morning, but then I went to work and the feeling as with me all day. I caught Stan Willis looking out the window in the middle of the afternoon and I said, ‘Penny for your thoughts, Stan,’ and he said, ‘I had a dream last night,’ and before he even told me the dream, I knew what it was. I could have told him, but he told me and I listened to him.”

“It was the same dream?”

“Yes. I told Stan I had dreamed it, too. He didn’t seem surprised. He relaxed, in fact. Then we started walking through offices, for the hell of it. It wasn’t planned. We didn’t say, let’s walk around. We just walked on our own, and everywhere we saw people looking at their desks or their hands or out the windows and not seeing what was in front of their eyes. I talked to a few of them; so did Stan.”

“And all of them had dreamed?”

“All of them. The same dream, with no difference.”

“Do you believe in the dream?”

“Yes. I’ve never been more certain.”

“And when will it stop? The world, I mean.”

“Sometime during the night for us, and then, as the night goes on around the world, those advancing portions will go, too. It’ll take twenty-four hours for it all to go.”

They sat awhile not touching their coffee. Then they lifted it slowly and drank, looking at each other.

“Do we deserve this?” she said.

“It’s not a matter of deserving, it’s just that things didn’t work out. I notice you didn’t even argue about this. Why not?”

“I guess I have a reason,” she said.

“The same reason everyone at the office had?”

She nodded. “I didn’t want to say anything. It happened last night. And the women on the block are talking about it, just among themselves.” She picked up the evening paper and held it toward him. “There’s nothing in the news about it.”

“No, everyone knows, so what’s the need?” He took the paper and sat back in his chair, looking at the girls and then at her. “Are you afraid?”

“No. Not even for the children. I always thought I would be frightened to death, but I’m not.”

“Where’s that spirit of self-preservation the scientists talk about so much?”

“I don’t know. You don’t get too excited when you feel things are logical. This is logical. Nothing else but this could have happened from the way we’ve lived.”

“We haven’t been too bad, have we?”

“No, nor enormously good. I suppose that’s the trouble. We haven’t been very much of anything except us, while a big part of the world was busy being lots of quite awful things.”

The girls were laughing in the parlor as they waved their hands and tumbled down their house of blocks.

“I always imagined people would be screaming in the streets at a time like this.”

“I guess not. You don’t scream about the real thing.”

“Do you know, I won’t miss anything but you and the girls. I never liked cities or autos or factories or my work or anything except you three. I won’t miss a thing except my family and perhaps the change in the weather and a glass of cool water when the weather’s hot, or the luxury of sleeping. Just little things, really. How can we sit here and talk this way?”

“Because there’s nothing else to do.”

“That’s it, of course, for if there were, we’d be doing it. I suppose this is the first time in the history of the world that everyone has really known just what they were going to be doing during the last night.”

“I wonder what everyone else will do now, this evening, for the next few hours.”

“Go to a show, listen to the radio, watch the TV, play cards, put the children to bed, get to bed themselves, like always.”

“In a way that’s something to be proud of — like always.” &

“We’re not all bad.”

They sat a moment and then he poured more coffee. “Why do you suppose it’s tonight?”


“Why not some night in the past ten years of in the last century, or five centuries ago or ten?”

“Maybe it’s because it was never February 30, 1951, ever before in history, and now it is and that’s it, because this date means more than any other date ever meant and because it’s the year when things are as they are all over the world and that’s why it’s the end.”

“There are bombers on their course both ways across the ocean tonight that’ll never see land again.”

“That’s part of the reason why.”

“Well,” he said. “What shall it be? Wash the dishes?”

They washed the dishes carefully and stacked them away with especial neatness. At eight-thirty the girls were put to bed and kissed good night and the little lights by their beds turned on and the door left a trifle open.

“I wonder,” said the husband, coming out and looking back, standing there with his pipe for a moment.”


“If the door should be shut all the way or if it should be left just a little ajar so we can hear them if they call.”

“I wonder if the children know — if anyone mentioned anything to tthem?”

“No, of course not. They’d have asked us about it.”

They sat and read the papers and talked and listened to some radio music and then sat together by the fireplace looking at the charcoal embers as the clock struck ten-thirty and eleven and eleven-thirty. They thought of all the other people in the world who had spent their evening, each in their own special way.

“Well,” he said at last. He kissed his wife for a long time.

“We’ve been good for each other, anyway.”

“Do you want to cry?” he asked.

“I don’t think so.”

They went through the house and turned out the lights and locked the doors, and went into the bedroom and stood in the night cool darkness undressing. She took the spread from the bed and folded it carefully over a chair, as always, and pushed back the covers. “The sheets are so cool and clean and nice,” she said.

“I’m tired.”

“We’re both tired.”

They got into bed and lay back.

“Wait a moment,” she said.

He heard her get up and go out into the back of the house, and then he heard the soft shuffling of a swinging door. A moment later she was back. “I left the water running in the kitchen,” she said. “I turned the faucet off.”

Something about this was so funny that he had to laugh.

She laughed with him, knowing what it was that she had done that was so funny. They stopped laughing at last and lay in their cool night bed, their hands clasped, their heads together.

“Good night,” he said, after a moment.

“Good night,” she said, adding softly, “dear…”



Begona Miguel of the Huelgas Monastery says: “San Juan de La Cruz teaches us that silence has its own music; it is silence that enables us to see ourselves and the things around us.

“I would like to add that there are words that can only be said in silence, odd as that may seem. To compose their symphonies, the great geniuses needed silence – and they managed to transform this into divine sounds. Philosophers and scientists need silence.”

“In the monastery, at night we practice what we call the ‘Great Silence’. In the absence of talk we can understand what lies beyond.”

Therefore, it is time for me to enjoy the silence. This blog takes a vacation, returning in September

You are always welcome to browse the ARCHIVES below

Enjoy your summer.

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10 SEC READ: Angels talk

Conversation in heaven

Abd Mubarak was on his way to Mecca when one night he dreamed that he was in heaven and heard two angels having a conversation.
“How many pilgrims came to the holy city this year?” one of them asked.
“Six hundred thousand”, answered the other.
“And how many of them had their pilgrimage accepted?”
“None of them. However, in Baghdad there is a shoemaker called Ali Mufiq who did not make the pilgrimage, but did have his pilgrimage accepted, and his graces benefited the 600,000 pilgrims”.
When he woke up, Abd Mubarak went to Mufiq’s shoe shop and told him his dream.
“At great cost and much sacrifice, I finally managed to get 350 coins together”, the shoemaker said in tears.
“But then, when I was ready to go to Mecca I discovered that my neighbors were hungry, so I distributed the money among them and gave up my pilgrimage”.


A conversa no céu

Abd Mubarak ia até Meca, quando sonhou certa noite que estava no céu. Ali, pode escutar dois anjos conversando.
“Quantos peregrinos vieram este ano à cidade sagrada?” Pergun­tou um deles.
“Seiscentos mil”, respondeu o outro.
“E, destes todos, quantos tiveram sua peregrinação aceita?”
“Nenhum. Entretanto, existe em Bagdad um sapateiro chamado Ali Mufiq, que não efetuou a caminhada; mas sua peregrinação foi aceita, e suas graças beneficiaram os 600 mil peregrinos”.
Quando acordou, Abd Mubarak foi até a sapataria de Mufiq, e lhe contou o sonho.
“A custa de grandes sacrifícios, terminei juntando 350 moedas”, disse, chorando, o sapateiro. “Entretanto, quando estava pronto para seguir até Meca, descobri que meus vizinhos tinham fome. Distribuí o dinheiro entre eles, sacrificando minha pere­grinação”.

La conversación en el cielo

Abd Mubarak iba hacia La Meca cuando, cierta noche, soñó que estaba en el cielo. Allí pudo escuchar la conversación entre dos ángeles.
-¿Cuántos peregrinos han venido este año a la ciudad sagrada?- preguntó uno de ellos.
-Seiscientos mil- respondió el otro.
-Y de todos estos, ¿a cuántos se les ha aceptado su peregrinación?
-A ninguno. No obstante, hay en Bagdad un zapatero llamado Ali Mufiq que no caminó, pero al que se le aceptó su peregrinación, y cuyas gracias beneficiaron a los seiscientos mil peregrinos.
Al despertar, Abd Mubarak fue a la zapatería de Mufiq, y le contó el sueño.
-A costa de grandes sacrificios, logré reunir 350 monedas- dijo, llorando, el zapatero-. Sin embargo, cuando estaba listo para ponerme en marcha hacia La Meca, descubrí que mis vecinos tenían hambre. Repartí el dinero entre ellos, sacrificando mi peregrinación.
La conversation au ciel

Abd Mubarak se rendait à La Mecque, quand il rêva une nuit qu’il était au ciel. Là-haut, il entendit deux anges qui conversaient.
« Combien de pèlerins sont venus cette année dans la ville sainte ? demanda l’un.
– Six cent mille, répondit l’autre.
– Et, de tous ceux-là, combien ont vu leur pèlerinage approuvé ?
– Aucun. Cependant, il y a à Bagdad un cordonnier du nom d’Ali Mufiq ; il n’a pas fait le voyage, mais son pèlerinage a été approuvé et ses grâces ont bénéficié aux six cent mille pèlerins. »
Quand il se réveilla, Abd Mubarak se rendit à la cordonnerie de Mufiq et il lui raconta son rêve.
« Au prix de grands sacrifices, j’avais réussi à rassembler 350 pièces, dit en pleurant le cordonnier. Mais au moment de partir pour La Mecque, j’ai découvert que mes voisins avaient faim. Je leur ai distribué l’argent, sacrifiant mon pèlerinage. »

The day I turned 60

At 23:15 on the 23rd of August I went to Lourdes so that at exactly 00:05 of the 24th, the moment I was born, I could be at the grotto of Our Lady to thank her for my life up to that moment and ask her to protect me from that moment on.

It was a very powerful experience, but while I was driving back to St. Martin (where I have a small mill to spend the summer) I felt extremely lonely. I said so to my wife.

“But you’re the one who chose it to be so!” she replied.

Yes, I had indeed made that choice, but now I began to feel bothered. We were both alone in this immense planet. I turned on my mobile phone.

It rang immediately – it was Monica, my agent and friend. When I arrived home there were other messages waiting for me. I went to bed happy, and the next day I saw that there was absolutely no reason for me to feel the oppression of the night before.

Flowers and presents began to arrive at the house. Communities of people over the Internet had done some extraordinary things using images and texts of mine.

In most cases, this had all been arranged by people I had never seen in my life – one exception being Márcia Nascimento, who did some magical work and it gives me pleasure to say that I am a writer with a fan-club – and she is world president!

At that moment I understood two very important things. The first is that no matter how famous you may be, you will always have the feeling that you are alone.

The other is that no matter how unknown you may be, you will always be surrounded by friends, even if you have never seen their faces.

Even when I was unknown, there was always a hand held out to me when I needed it. So I let Kahlil Gibran – with his unique mastery – describe this sentiment (which I have adapted because of the size of the poat):

“Your friend is the field where you sow with love and harvest with gratitude. He is your home, he is your table.
“Even when he is silent, two hearts continue to talk.
“When you have to leave him, don’t suffer, for you will see the importance of the friendship all the better because of this absence, just as a mountain climber sees the landscape around him better when he is far from the plains.
“May you be able to share with your friend all that is good.
“Let him know and share not only your moments of joy but also your moments of sorrow”.

“And know that a friend is not by your side to help you kill the time, but rather to help you enjoy life in all its fullness”.

Paulo Coelho Discusses the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Alchemist

What originally inspired you to write The Alchemist?

Coelho: My dream was to be a writer. I wrote my first book in 1987, The Pilgrimage, after completing my own personal pilgrimage from France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. After that I thought, “Why did it take me so long to fulfill my dream?” So I decided to write a metaphor, and this metaphor is The Alchemist: a novel about someone who needs to fulfill his or her dream, but takes too long because he or she thinks it’s impossible.

The Alchemist has sold over 150 million copies worldwide, won 115 international prizes and awards, has been translated into 80 languages, and is still on the New York Times bestseller list today, 25 years after its initial publication. What impact has this success had on your life?

Coelho: Of course The Alchemist opened a lot of doors for me. At the moment I’m answering this question, the novel is still on The New York Times bestseller list. But success did not happen overnight, so I had time to get used to it. The book was not something that exploded all of a sudden. I believe success can be a blessing, and it can also be a curse. I was older when the recognition came, so I had another level of maturity to face that change. When it happened, I remember thinking, “My God, this is a blessing. ” So above all, I had to respect it. And the way to respect it is to really understand that a blessing has no explanation, but needs to be treasured and honored.

Do you closely relate to any of the characters in The Alchemist? If so, how?

Coelho: In The Alchemist, I relate myself to the Englishman – someone who is trying to understand life through books. It’s quite interesting how many times we use books to understand life. I think that a book is a catalyst: it provokes a reaction. I am a compulsive reader. I read a lot, but from time to time, there are books that changed my life. Well, it’s not that the book itself changed my life; it’s that I was already ready to change, and needed to not feel alone. The same thing happens with the Englishman in The Alchemist.

What have you discovered about your own personal destiny in the past 25 years since writing The Alchemist?

Coelho: What I learned after writing The Alchemist, after the worldwide success, is basically that I had a dream, a Personal Legend to fulfill. To be a writer is to write. To write means new books. New books mean new challenges. Of course, I could have stopped with The Alchemist a long time ago if I was only in it for money, but I really love what I do. I can’t see myself not writing. It’s not always an easy task, sometimes it’s very challenging, but this is what I do and this is what I like. So the journey itself is the miracle; it is the blessing. There is no point to reach. You have to travel your journey with joy, hope, and challenges in your heart.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Coelho: To my readers and my fans, basically my companions, I would say that spirituality is being brave, is taking risks, is daring to do something when people are always telling you not to. My parents, for example, did not want me to be a writer, and that’s why it took so long for me to fulfill my dream. But here I am, thanks to that moment after my pilgrimage from France to Spain, when I said to myself, “I can’t live with a dream that I did not even try to fulfill. ”
Do the same thing.

The pilgrim in Cascais


The 10 best Latin American books of all time



The Telegraph (UK) selected the 10 best Latin American books of all time
The best novels by Latin American authors or set in Latin America from One Hundred Years of Solitude to The Alchemist