Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

An encounter at the Dentsu Gallery

Author: Paulo Coelho

By Paulo Coelho

Three very well-dressed gentlemen came to my hotel in Tokyo.

– Yesterday you gave a conference at the Dentsu Gallery – said one of them. – I entered by chance, just as you were saying that no encounter takes place by chance. Perhaps we should introduce ourselves.

I didn’t ask how they had found out which hotel I was staying in, I didn’t ask anything; if people are capably of overcoming such difficulties, they deserve every respect. One of the three men handed me some books in Japanese. My interpreter was excited: this man was Kazuhito Aida, the son of the great Japanese poet, of whom I had never heard.

And it was precisely the mysterious synchronicity of these encounters which enabled me to discover, read and now share with the readers of this column, a little of the magnificent work of Mitsuo Aida (1924-1998), the calligrapher and poet, whose writings remind us of the importance of innocence:

Because it has lived life intensely
the dry grass grabs the passer-by’s attention
Flowers merely blossom,
and do so as best they can.
The white lily of the valley, which no one sees
explains itself to no one;
it only lives for beauty.
Men, however, cannot live with “only”.


If tomatoes wish to be melons
they will become a farce.
I am amazed
that so many people are busy
wanting to be what they are not;
why become a farce?

You need not pretend you are strong
should not always prove that all is well,
must not worry about what others think
cry if necessary
it is good to cry until no tears are left
(for only then will you smile again)


Sometimes I watch the openings of tunnels and bridges on TV. This is what usually happens: many celebrities and local politicians line up, with the host minister or governor in the middle. Then, a ribbon is cut, and when the directors of the works return to their offices, they receive many letters of recognition and admiration.

Those who gave their sweat and work, who held the pick and spade, who exhausted themselves working in the summer, or were made to bear the harsh winter in order to finish the job, are never seen; it seems that the best part belongs to those whose faces never sweat at all.

I always want to be someone capable of seeing the faces which are not seen – those who seek neither fame not glory, who silently play the part destined for them by life.

I want to be capable of this, for the most important things in existence are those which build us, never showing their faces.

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