Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Break the glass!

Author: Paulo Coelho

I held his hand. He knew about the great mysteries of the Goddess, but he knew about as much about love as much as I; even though he had traveled so far.

And he would have to pay a price: the initiative. Because the woman pays the highest price: the surrender.

We held hands for a long time. I could see in his eyes the ancient fears that true love creates and proves. I read the memory of rejection from the previous night, the long time spent apart, the years in the monastery in search of a world where these things did not happen.

I could see in his eyes the thousands of times I could have imagined this moment, the scenarios built around us, the color of our hair and the color of my clothes. I wanted to say “yes”, he would be welcome, that my heart had won the battle. I wanted to say how much I loved him, how much I desired the moment as well.

But I kept silent. I watched, as if in a dream, his inner struggle. I saw that he had before him my “no”, the fear of losing me, the harsh words he had heard in similar moments – because we all go through it, and accumulate scars.

His eyes began to shine. He knew I was winning all those barriers.

So I released one hand, grabbed a cup and put it at the edge of the table.

“It’s going to fall,” he said.

“Exactly. I want you to fall,” I said.

“By breaking a glass?” he asked.

“Yes, by breaking a glass. A seemingly simple gesture, but it involves fears that we will never come to understand,” I responded. “What’s wrong with breaking a cheap glass, when we have all done this without meaning to at some point in our lives?”

“Breaking a glass?” he repeated, “Why?”

“I can give some explanations,” I answered, “but to be truthful it’s only for the sake of breaking it.”

“For your sake?”

“Of course not.”

He looked at the glass on the edge of the table , I could tell he was worried about it falling.

I wanted to say that it’s a rite of passage, as he’s often said. That it’s forbidden. That glasses do not break it on purpose. That when we walk into restaurants or into our homes, we are always careful to move the glasses that are on the edge of the table. Our world requires us to make sure that the glasses do not fall on the floor.

However, I kept thinking, when broken by accident, we see that it was not so serious. The waiter says “don’t worry about it”, and I’ve never seen a broken glass be billed on a restaurant tab. Breaking glasses is a part of life and do not cause any harm to us, the restaurant, or the next person to sit at that table.

I took a bump on the table. The glass shook, but did not fall.

“Be careful!” he said instinctively.

“Break the glass,” I insisted.

Break the glass, I thought to myself, because it is a symbolic gesture. Try to understand that within myself, things were breaking of much more importance than a glass, and I’m happy for that. Look to your own inner struggles and break this glass.

Our parents taught us to be careful with glasses and with our bodies. They taught us that the passions of childhood are impossible; we should not remove men from the priesthood, that people do not perform miracles and that no one goes on a journey without knowing where he wants to go.

Break this cup, please, I thought to myself, and release of all these damn misconceptions, the habit you have of only doing that which everyone agrees with.

“Break this glass,” I say again.

He fixed his eyes on mine. Then, slowly, he slid his hand over the table, to touch the glass. In a quick movement, he pushed it to the ground.

The sound of broken glass caught everyone’s attention. Instead of covering up the broken glass or apologizing, he looked at me and smiled. I smiled back.

“Don’t worry about it!” yelled the waiter from across the restaurant.

But he did not listen. He had already risen from his seat, grabbed me by the hair and kissed me.

I pulled on his hair, hugged him with all my strength, bit his lips, felt his tongue moving inside my mouth. It was a kiss that had a lot attached to it, that had been born along the rivers of our childhood, when we did not understand the meaning of love. It was a kiss that was suspended in the air while we were growing up. It had traveled around the world through the memory of a medal, which was hidden behind stacks of books used to study for a public job. A kiss that had been lost many times before and had now had been found. At that moment, the kiss ended years of searching, disappointments and impossible dreams.

I kissed him hard. The few people who were at the bar must have looked and thought they were seeing just a kiss. They did not know at that moment, that kiss was the summary of my life, of his life, the life of any person who hopes, dreams and seeks his way under the sun.

In that minute, in that kiss, were all of the happy moments I have ever lived.

in “By the river Piedra I sat down and wept”

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