Twenty years later: Between Moscow and Ekaterinburg

I reach the carriage to take me on the Trans-Siberian laden with books, thinking that I would have lots of time during these 9,228 kilometers of train ride. Right away I discover that it is impossible to write or read anything because of the movement and absence of good shock absorbers. All that I can do is think and scribble some notes when we pull in at a station.

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We are all part of God’s dream; like characters who inhabit our dreams, we have a certain independence. We are not He who is dreaming, but we are part of Him. I hope this does not bring me nightmares, I hope I can sleep peacefully at night.

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Lord, protect our doubts, because doubt is a way of praying. It is what makes us grow, because it obliges us to look without fear at the many answers to the same question.

And for this to be possible, Lord, protect our decisions, because decision is a way of praying. Give us the courage, after doubt, to choose between one path and another. Let our YES always be a YES, and our NO always a NO. Once our path is chosen, let us never look backwards or let our soul be gnawed by remorse.

And for this to be possible, Lord, protect our actions, because action is a way of praying. Make our daily bread be the fruit of the best that we carry within us. May we be able through work and Action to share a little of the love we receive.

And for this to be possible, Lord, protect our dreams, because dreaming is a way of praying. Enable us, whatever our age and circumstances, to keep alive in our hearts the sacred flame of hope and perseverance.

And for this to be possible, Lord, let us always be filled with enthusiasm, because enthusiasm is a way of praying. That is what links us to Heaven and Earth, to men and children, and tells us that desire is important and deserves our efforts. That is what assures us that everything is possible, as long as we are totally committed to what we do.

And for this to be possible, Lord, protect us because life is the only way we have to show your miracle. May the earth keep changing the seed to wheat, may we keep changing the wheat to bread. And this is only possible if we have love – so never leave us alone. Always give us Your company, and the company of men and women who have doubts, and act and dream and become enthusiastic and live as if each and every day were completely dedicated to Your glory.

Amen.

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I reckon that it takes about three minutes to read my text. Well, according to statistics, in that same short period of time 300 people will die and another 620 will be born.

It takes me perhaps half an hour to write a text: here I sit, concentrating on my computer, books piled up beside me, ideas in my head, the scenery passing by outside my window. Everything seems perfectly normal all around me; and yet, during these thirty minutes, 3,000 people have died and 6,200 have just seen the light of the world for the first time.

Where are all those thousands of families who have just begun to weep over the loss of some dear one, or else laugh at the arrival of a son, grandson or brother?

I stop and reflect for a while: perhaps many of these deaths are reaching the end of a long, painful sickness, and some persons are relieved that the Angel has come for them. Besides these, in all certainty hundreds of children who have just been born will be abandoned in a minute and transferred to the death statistics before I finish this text.

What a thought! A simple statistic that I came upon by chance – and all of a sudden I can feel all those losses and encounters, smiles and tears. How many are leaving this life, alone in their rooms, without anyone realizing what is going on? How many will be born in secret, only to be abandoned at the door of shelters or convents?

And then I reflect that I was part of the birth statistics and one day I will be included in the toll of the dead. How good that is to be fully aware that I am going to die. Ever since I took the road to Santiago I have understood that although life goes on and we are eternal, one day this existence will come to an end.

People think very little about death. They spend their lives worried about really absurd things, putting things off and leaving important moments aside. They risk nothing because they believe that is dangerous. They grumble a lot, but act like cowards when it is time to take certain steps. They want everything to change, but they themselves refuse to change.

If they thought a little more about death, they would never fail to make that telephone call that they have been putting off. They would be a little more crazy. They would not be afraid of the end of this incarnation – because you cannot be afraid of something that is going to happen anyway.

The Indians say: “today is as good a day as any other to leave this world”. And a sorcerer once remarked: “may death be always sitting beside you. That way, when you have to do something important, it will give you the strength and courage you need.”

I hope, reader, that have accompanied me this far. It would be silly to let the subject scare you, because sooner or later we are all going to die. And only those who accept this are prepared for life.

The next text will be posted on the 29th of May.

P.S: Dear reader,

During this journey, that is filling my soul with very interesting experiences, one of the most magical moments comes every night when I read the comments posted on this blog. Even though I can’t answer all of you, I want you to know that it’s very important to me to know that I’m not alone on this path. Thank you so much for your support and for the words and ideas that are now engraved on my heart.

Paulo Coelho