Stories & Reflections
By Paulo Coelho
Many years ago, there lived in China a young man called Mogo, who earned his living breaking stones. Although he was strong and healthy, he was not contented with his lot and complained about it day and night. He so blasphemed against God that, in the end, his guardian angel appeared to him.
‘You’re healthy and you have your whole life before you,’ said the angel. ‘All young men start off doing the same sort of job as you. Why are you always complaining?’
‘God has treated me unfairly and has not given me the chance to grow,’ replied Mogo.
Concerned, the angel went to ask the Lord for his help in ensuring that his protégé did not end up losing his soul.
‘Do as you wish,’ said the Lord. ‘Everything that Mogo wants will be granted to him.’
The following day, Mogo was, as usual, breaking stones when he saw a carriage pass by bearing a nobleman laden with jewels. Wiping the sweat from his dirty face, Mogo said bitterly:
‘Why can’t I be a nobleman too? That is my destiny!’
‘So be it!’ murmured his angel, delighted.
And Mogo was transformed into the owner of a sumptuous palace with a vast estate, with many servants and horses. He used to go out every day with his impressive train of followers and enjoyed seeing his former companions lined up at the roadside, gazing respectfully up at him.
On one such afternoon, the heat was unbearable; even under his golden parasol, Mogo was sweating as much as he used to in his days as a breaker of stones. He realised then that he wasn’t really that important: above him were princes and emperors, but higher than them all was the sun, who obeyed no one – the sun was the true king.
‘Dear angel, why can’t I be the sun? That must be my destiny!’ whined Mogo.
‘So be it!’ exclaimed the angel, concealing his sadness at such vaulting ambition.
And Mogo became the sun, as he had wanted.
While he was shining in the sky, admired for his immense power to ripen the grain or scorch it as he wished, a black spot started moving towards him.
The dark stain grew larger and larger, and Mogo realised that it was a cloud spreading all around him, so that he could not longer see the Earth.
‘Angel!’ cried Mogo. ‘The cloud is stronger than the sun! My destiny is to be a cloud!’
‘So be it!’ replied the angel.
Mogo was transformed into a cloud and he thought he had finally realised his dream.
‘I’m so powerful!’ he yelled as he obscured the sun.
‘I’m invincible!’ he thundered as he chased the waves.
But on the deserted ocean shore stood a vast granite rock, as old as the world itself. Mogo thought that the rock was defying him and unleashed a storm such as the world had never seen. Vast, furious waves lashed the rock, trying to wrench it from the earth and hurl it into the depths of the sea.
Firm and impassive, the rock remained where it was.
‘Angel,’ sobbed Mogo, ‘the rock is stronger than the cloud! My destiny is to be a rock!’
And Mogo was transformed into that rock.
‘Who can vanquish me now?’ he wondered. ‘I am the most powerful thing in the world!’
And so several years passed, until, one morning, Mogo felt something stabbing into his stone entrails, this was followed by intense pain, as if part of his granite body was being broken into pieces. Then he heard dull, insistent thuds and felt again that terrible pain.
Mad with fear, he cried:
‘Angel, someone is trying to kill me! He has more power than I do, I want to be like him!’
‘So be it!’ exclaimed the angel, weeping.
And that was how Mogo went back to breaking stones.
(A story sent by Shirlei Massapust)
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