Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

As if it were the first time

Author: Paulo Coelho

I would like to believe that I am going to look on this new year as if it were the first time that 365 days have unfolded before my eyes. To see the people around me with surprise and amazement, happy to discover that they are by my side and sharing something so often mentioned and so seldom understood, called love.

I shall climb on the first bus that comes along without asking where it is going to and I shall get off as soon as I see something that catches my attention. I shall pass by a beggar who asks me for some spare change. Maybe I’ll give him something, maybe I’ll think that he will spend it on drink and just walk past – hearing his insults and understanding that that is the way he has to communicate with me. I shall pass by someone who is trying to wreck a telephone booth. Maybe I’ll try to stop them, maybe I’ll understand that they are doing that because there is nobody to talk to on the other side of the line and that is their way of chasing off loneliness.

On each of these 365 days I shall look at everything and everybody as if it were the first time – especially the small things that I am not used to and whose magic I have forgotten. The keys of my computer, for example, that move with an energy that I fail to understand. The paper that appears on the screen and for a long time has not been revealed in a physical manner, although I believe that I am writing on a white sheet where it is easy to make corrections by pressing a key. At the side of the computer monitor are some papers that I do not have the patience to put in order, but if I feel that they are hiding something new, than all these letters, memoranda, newspaper cuttings and receipts will gain a life of their own and will have odd stories of the past and the future to tell me. So many things in the world, so many paths trodden, so many entrances and exits in my life.

I am going to put on a shirt that I wear a lot and for the first time I shall pay attention to the label and the way it was sewn, and I am going to imagine the hands that designed it and the machines that changed this design into something material and visible.

And even the things that I am used to – such as my bow and arrows, the breakfast coffee mug, the boots that have become an extension of my feet after wearing them so much – will be coated in the mystery of discovery. Let everything that my hand touches, my eyes see and my mouth taste be different now, although they been the same for many a year. In that way they will no longer be still-lifes and start to convey the secret of having been with me for such a long time, and they will show me the miracle of coming into touch again with emotions already worn down by routine.

I want to look at the sun for the first time, if the sun comes out tomorrow, or at cloudy weather, if tomorrow is overcast. Above my head there is a sky for which all of humanity – over thousands of years of observation – has given a series of reasonable explanations. Well, I shall forget everything I have ever learned about the stars, and they will once more turn into angels, or children, or anything else that I feel like believing in at the moment.
Time and life have changed everything into something perfectly understandable – and I need mystery, the thunder that is the voice of an angry god rather than just a simple electric discharge that sets off vibrations in the atmosphere. I want to fill my life again with fantasy, because an angry god is far more curious, frightening and interesting than a phenomenon of physics.

And finally, let me look at myself on each of these 365 days as if it were the first time that I was in contact with my body and my soul. Let me look at this person who walks, feels and talks like any other, let me feel surprised at his most simple gestures, like chatting to the mailman, opening his correspondence, contemplating his wife sleeping at his side, wondering what she is dreaming about.

And so I shall remain what I am and what I like to be, a constant surprise to myself. This I who was not created by my father or by my mother, nor by my school, but by all that I have lived so far – suddenly I forgot and am discovering it all over again.

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