Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

My turning point (Newsweek)

Author: Paulo Coelho

When I set out for Santiago nearly 30 years ago, starlight was the last thing on my mind.

But one afternoon, there I was, in a café in León, surrounded by chattering travelers alight with stories about their trek. The town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port was miles behind me, and I was already better than halfway to Santiago.
In a matter of days, I would turn 39, and though I had no idea at the time, from that moment on nothing in my life would be the same.
But here, on the road, the landscape ahead looked monotonous and flat. Behind me was no different, except for my own boot prints etched in the dust, which the wind would erase by nightfall. Everything seemed surreal.

“What am I doing here?” I asked myself.

That question would haunt me in the days and weeks to come. How absurd, making a pilgrimage by foot at the turn of the 21st century! OK, so I was chasing my dream. Ever since I was a child I’d wanted to become a writer. But was I really ready to do what it took? After all, it’s so much more comfortable and far less risky to have a dream; but trying to live that dream could bring frustration or defeat. Besides, I was no longer a child.


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