1966 « Je vais donc recevoir des électrochocs”

 
« J’entrai dans une petite pièce aux parois carrelées. Il y avait un lit recouvert d’une couverture en caoutchouc avec, à sa tête, un appareil muni d’une poignée.
« Je vais donc recevoir des électrochocs, dis-je à l’attention du Dr Benjamin Gaspar Gomes.
– Ne vous inquiétez pas. C’est beaucoup plus traumatisant de regarder quelqu’un subir ce traitement que d’en faire soi-même l’expérience. Ça ne fait pas du tout mal. »
Je m’allongeai et un infirmier vint me mettre une sorte de tube dans la bouche, pour empêcher que ma langue ne s’enroule sur elle-même. Puis il plaça une électrode de la taille d’un écouteur de téléphone sur chacune de mes tempes. J’étais en train de regarder la peinture écaillée au plafond lorsque j’entendis qu’on actionnait la poignée. L’instant suivant, ce fut comme si un rideau se baissait devant mes yeux ; mon champ de vision se réduisit rapidement en un simple point, puis ce fut le noir complet.
Le médecin avait raison, ça ne faisait pas du tout mal. »
 
La scène que je viens de décrire n’est pas tirée de mon livre Véronika décide de mourir. C’est un extrait du journal que j’ai tenu lors de mon deuxième séjour en hôpital psychiatrique. C’était en 1966, au début de la période la plus sombre de la dictature militaire au Brésil (1964-1989), et par un réflexe naturel du mécanisme social, cette répression externe se muait peu à peu en répression intérieure (ce qui n’est pas sans rappeler ce qui se passe aux États-Unis de nos jours, où un homme n’ose plus regarder une femme s’il n’est pas accompagné d’un avocat). À tel point que de bonnes familles de la classe moyenne jugeaient proprement inacceptable que leurs enfants ou leurs petits-enfants puissent vouloir devenir « artistes ». Au Brésil à cette époque, le mot « artiste » était synonyme d’homosexuel, communiste, drogué et fainéant.
Quand j’avais 18 ans, je croyais que mon univers et celui de mes parents pouvaient cohabiter pacifiquement. Je m’appliquais à avoir de bonnes notes dans le collège de Jésuites où j’étudiais, je travaillais tous les après-midi, mais le soir, je voulais vivre mon rêve et devenir artiste. Sans trop savoir par où commencer, je m’engageai dans une troupe de théâtre amateur. Bien que je n’aie eu aucune envie de faire carrière, j’y trouvais néanmoins des individus avec lesquels je partageais de réelles affinités.
Malheureusement, mes parents n’étaient pas convaincus par la possibilité d’une coexistence pacifique de deux univers aussi diamétralement opposés. Une nuit, je rentrai ivre à la maison, et le lendemain matin, je fus réveillé par deux infirmiers tout en muscles.
« Tu viens avec nous », me dit l’un des deux.
Ma mère pleurait, et mon père s’efforçait de dissimuler la moindre émotion.
« C’est pour ton bien », affirma-t-il. « On veut juste te faire passer quelques examens. »
Et c’est ainsi que débuta mon voyage d’instituts psychiatriques en instituts psychiatriques. J’étais interné, on m’administrait des traitements de toutes sortes et je m’enfuyais à la première occasion, partant vagabonder aussi longtemps que je le pouvais avant de retourner chez mes parents. Nous traversions alors une période de lune de miel, puis inévitablement, je recommençais à avoir de « mauvaises fréquentations », selon l’expression familiale, et les infirmiers réapparaissaient.
Certaines batailles de l’existence n’ont que deux issues possibles : elles vous détruisent, ou vous en ressortez plus fort. L’hôpital psychiatrique fut l’un de ces combats.
Un soir, en discutant avec un autre patient, je dis :
« Tu sais, je crois que tout le monde, à un moment ou à un autre, rêve de devenir président de la République. Mais ni toi ni moi ne pourrons jamais y aspirer, à cause de notre biographie.
– Nous n’avons donc rien à perdre, répondit mon interlocuteur. Nous pouvons simplement faire ce qui nous plaît. »
Il me sembla qu’il avait raison. La situation dans laquelle je me trouvais était si étrange, si extrême, qu’elle s’accompagnait d’un élément sans précédent : une totale liberté. Tous les efforts de ma famille pour faire de moi quelqu’un susceptible de se fondre dans la masse eurent l’effet absolument inverse : j’étais désormais radicalement différent de tous les jeunes gens de mon âge.
Ce même soir, je réfléchis à mon avenir. D’un côté, je pouvais devenir écrivain ; de l’autre, je pouvais m’abandonner à la folie, ce qui paraissait plus viable. Je serais alors pris en charge par l’État, sans plus jamais à avoir à travailler ni à assumer la moindre responsabilité. Bien sûr, il me faudrait passer une bonne partie de mon temps en instituts psychiatriques, mais l’expérience m’avait montré que les patients qui les fréquentaient ne se comportaient pas du tout comme les fous des films hollywoodiens. À l’exception de quelques cas critiques de catatonie ou de schizophrénie, la majorité d’entre eux étaient tout à fait à même de discuter de la vie et possédaient d’ailleurs une vision extrêmement singulière sur le sujet. De temps à autres, ils traversaient bien des crises d’angoisse, de dépression ou d’agressivité, mais celles-ci ne duraient guère.
Le plus grand risque pour moi à l’hôpital n’était pas de perdre tout espoir de devenir un jour président de la République, ni de me sentir marginalisé ou injustement traité par ma famille (au fond, je savais que me faire interner était un geste d’amour désespéré et de surprotection de leur part). Le plus grand risque était d’en venir à penser que cette situation dans laquelle je me trouvais était normale.
Lorsque je sortis de l’hôpital pour la troisième fois, à la suite du cycle habituel « évasion/vagabondage/retour à la maison/lune de miel avec ma famille/mauvaises fréquentations/nouvel internement », j’allais avoir vingt ans et je m’étais habitué à cet enchaînement de circonstances. Mais cette fois quelque-chose avait changé.
Bien que j’eus de nouveau « de mauvaises fréquentations », mes parents se montraient de plus en plus réticents à me faire interner. Sans que je le sache, ils étaient désormais convaincus que j’étais un cas désespéré, aussi préféraient-ils me garder auprès d’eux, quitte à me supporter pour le restant de mes jours.
Mon comportement ne fit qu’empirer, je devins agressif, mais il n’était toujours pas question de m’hospitaliser. Je connus une période de grande joie tandis que je m’attachais à exercer ma soi-disant liberté, pour enfin mener « la vie d’artiste ». Je quittai le nouvel emploi que mes parents m’avaient trouvé et j’arrêtai mes études afin de me consacrer exclusivement au théâtre et à la fréquentation des bars prisés les intellectuels. Pendant toute une année, je fis exactement ce qui me plaisait, mais ma troupe de théâtre fut soudain dissoute par la police politique qui infiltra aussi les bars, mes histoires furent refusées par tous les éditeurs à qui je les avais envoyées, et aucune des filles que je connaissais ne voulait sortir avec moi parce que j’étais un jeune homme sans avenir, sans plan de carrière, qui, de surcroît, n’avait jamais réellement été à l’université.
Et donc, un beau jour, je décidai de saccager ma chambre. C’était une façon de déclarer en me passant de mots : « Vous voyez, je ne suis pas adapté au monde. Je n’arrive pas à trouver de travail et je ne peux pas réaliser mon rêve. Je crois que vous avez tout à fait raison : je suis fou et je veux retourner en hôpital psychiatrique. »
Le sort est parfois plein d’ironie. Lorsque j’eus fini de vandaliser ma chambre, je fus soulagé de constater que mes parents étaient au téléphone avec l’hôpital. Mais le médecin qui me suivait habituellement était en vacances. Les infirmiers arrivèrent donc avec un interne dans leur sillage. Il me vit assis-là, au milieu des livres déchiquetés, des disques cassés, des rideaux déchirés, et il demanda à ma famille et aux infirmiers de bien vouloir quitter la pièce.
« Que se passe-t-il ? », m’interrogea-t-il.
Je ne répondis pas. Un fou devrait toujours se comporter comme s’il n’appartenait pas à ce monde.
« Arrête de faire l’idiot », reprit-il. « J’ai lu ton dossier médical. Tu n’es absolument pas fou, et je ne te ferai pas interner. »
Il quitta la pièce, me fit une ordonnance de tranquillisants et (comme je l’appris plus tard) expliqua à mes parents que je souffrais d’un « syndrome de l’internement ». Des gens normaux qui, à un moment donné, se retrouvent dans des situations anormales, telles que la dépression, la panique, etc., ont parfois recours à la maladie comme alternative à la vie. Autrement dit, ils choisissent d’être malades parce qu’être « normal » leur coûte trop d’efforts. Mes parents suivirent ses conseils et ne m’envoyèrent plus jamais en institut psychiatrique.
À partir de ce jour, je cessai de chercher du réconfort dans la folie. Il me fallut panser seul mes plaies, je dus perdre des batailles et en gagner d’autres, et souvent, je fus contraint de renoncer à mes rêves inaccessibles pour travailler dans des bureaux, jusqu’à ce qu’un jour, je renonce pour la énième fois et parte en pèlerinage à Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle. Là-bas, je compris que je ne pouvais pas continuer à ignorer ma « vocation d’artiste », ce qui, dans mon cas, signifiait devenir auteur. Ainsi, à l’âge de 38 ans, entrepris-je d’écrire mon premier livre et pris-je le risque de livrer une bataille que j’avais toujours inconsciemment redoutée : la bataille pour mon rêve.
Je trouvai un éditeur et ce premier livre (Le pèlerin de Compostelle, qui raconte mon expérience sur le chemin de Saint Jacques) me mena à l’Alchimiste, lequel donna lieu à d’autres livres, à des traductions, à des cours et des conférences dans le monde entier. Même si je n’avais cessé de remettre mon rêve à plus tard, je compris que je ne pouvais plus continuer ainsi, que l’Univers se montrait toujours généreux envers ceux qui luttent pour obtenir ce qu’ils désirent.
En 1997, à l’issue d’une épuisante tournée de promotion à travers trois continents, j’en vins à remarquer un phénomène très étrange : ce que j’avais voulu le jour où j’avais détruit ma chambre semblait être quelque-chose auquel de nombreuses personnes paraissaient également aspirer. Les gens préféraient vivre dans un asile géant, en suivant religieusement des règles écrites par on ne sait qui, plutôt que de se battre pour leur droit à la différence. Lors d’un vol pour Tokyo, je lus ceci dans un journal :
Selon Statistique Canada, 40 % des individus entre 15 et 34 ans, 33 % des individus entre 35 et 54 ans et 20 % des individus entre 55 et 64 ans ont déjà été confrontés à la maladie mentale. Cela signifie qu’une personne sur cinq souffre d’une forme de trouble psychiatrique.
« Le Canada n’a jamais subi de dictature militaire, il est considéré comme le pays avec la meilleure qualité de vie au monde », pensai-je. « Pourquoi donc y a-t-il autant de fous là-bas ? Et pourquoi ne sont-ils pas internés ? »
Cette question en entraîna une autre : qu’est-ce que la folie, au juste ?
J’ai trouvé les réponses à ces deux questions. Premièrement, les gens ne sont pas internés parce qu’ils continuent à être socialement productifs. Si vous êtes capable d’arriver au travail à 9 h pour ne partir qu’à 17 h, la société ne vous considère pas comme inapte. Peu importe que de 17 h 01 à 8 h 59 vous restiez assis devant la télé dans un état catatonique, que vous vous adonniez aux fantasmes sexuels les plus pervers sur Internet, que vous vous contentiez de fixer un mur en adressant des reproches au monde entier avec le sentiment d’être largement exploité, que vous soyez pétrifié de peur à l’idée de sortir dans la rue, que vous soyez obsédé par la propreté ou par l’absence de propreté, ou que vous souffriez d’épisodes dépressifs ou de crises de larmes. Tant que vous vous présentez au travail et que vous apportez votre contribution à la société, vous ne représentez pas une menace. Vous n’en devenez une que lorsque la goutte d’eau fait déborder le vase, que vous sortez dans la rue avec une mitraillette à la main, comme un personnage de dessin animé, et que vous abattez quinze enfants pour alerter le monde sur les effets pernicieux de Tom et Jerry sur l’éducation des plus jeunes. Sans ça, vous êtes considéré comme normal
Et la folie ? La folie, c’est une incapacité à communiquer.
Entre la normalité et la folie, qui sont en réalité une seule et même chose, il existe une étape intermédiaire qu’on appelle « être différent ». Et les gens avaient de plus en plus peur « d’être différents ». Au Japon, après avoir longuement réfléchi aux données statistiques que je venais de lire, je décidai d’écrire un livre sur ma propre expérience. C’est ainsi que naquit Véronika décide de mourir, écrit à la troisième personne, avec un alter ego féminin, parce que je savais que ce qui importait, ça n’était pas ce que j’avais moi-même vécu en institution, mais plutôt les risques que l’on encoure en étant différent, et l’horreur que l’on éprouve pourtant en se découvrant semblable aux autres.
Quand j’eus terminé, je m’en fus trouver mon père. Passée la difficile période de mon adolescence et de mes débuts dans l’âge adulte, mes parents ne se sont jamais pardonné ce qu’ils m’avaient infligé. Je leur ai toujours dit que ça n’avait vraiment pas été si terrible et que la prison (car j’ai été emprisonné à trois reprises pour des raisons politiques) avaient laissé en moi des cicatrices bien plus profondes, mais mes parents refusaient de me croire et ils ont passé le reste de leur vie à se le reprocher.
« J’ai écrit un livre sur l’hôpital psychiatrique », annonçai-je à mon père, alors âgé de 85 ans. « C’est une œuvre de fiction mais il y a quelques pages où je m’exprime en mon nom. Cela signifie que mes séjours en hôpital psychiatrique vont être rendus publics. »
Mon père me dévisagea puis dit :
« Tu es sûr que cela ne va pas te causer le moindre tort ?
– Oui, j’en suis sûr.
– Alors, vas-y. J’en ai marre des secrets. »
Véronika décide de mourir est paru au Brésil en août 1998. En septembre, j’avais reçu plus de 1 200 emails et lettres relatant des expériences similaires. En octobre, certains des thèmes abordés dans le livre – la dépression, les crises d’angoisse, le suicide – ont été évoqués lors d’un séminaire qui a eu des répercussions nationales. Le 22 janvier 1999, le sénateur Eduardo Suplicy en a lu des extraits en séance plénière, et il est parvenu à faire approuver une loi qui attendait de passer au Congrès brésilien depuis dix ans, loi qui interdisait les internements arbitraires en instituts psychiatriques.

5 MIN READING: “Daddy, I am going to talk about my experience in an asylum”

‘I entered a tiled cubicle. There was a bed covered with a rubber sheet and beside the bed some sort of apparatus with a handle.

“So you’re going to give me electric shock treatment,” I said to Dr Benjamim Gaspar Gomes.

“Don’t worry. It’s far more traumatic watching someone being treated than actually having the treatment yourself. It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I lay down and the male nurse put a kind of tube in my mouth so that my tongue wouldn’t roll back. Then, on either temple, he placed two electrodes, rather like the earpieces of a telephone.

I was looking up at the peeling paint on the ceiling when I heard the handle being turned. The next moment, a curtain seemed to fall over my eyes; my vision quickly reduced down to a single point, and then everything went dark.

The doctor was right; it didn’t hurt at all.’

 

The scene I have just described is not taken from my book, “Veronika Decides to Die”. It comes from the diary I wrote during my second stay in a mental hospital. That was in 1966, the beginning of the blackest period of Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1989), and, as if by some natural reflex of the social mechanism, that external repression was gradually becoming internalised (not unlike what is happening in the United States today, where a man doesn’t even dare look at a woman without having a lawyer by his side). So much so that good middle-class families found it simply unacceptable that their children or grandchildren should want to be ‘artists’. In Brazil at the time, the word ‘artist’ was synonymous with homosexual, communist, drug addict and layabout.

 

When I was 18, I believed that my world and that of my parents could coexist peacefully. I did my best to get good marks at the Jesuit school where I was studying, I worked every afternoon, but at night, I wanted to live out my dream of being an artist. Not knowing quite where to begin, I became involved in an amateur theatre group. Although I had no desire to act professionally, at least I was amongst people with whom I felt some affinity.

 

Unfortunately, my parents did not share my belief in the peaceful coexistence of two such diametrically opposed worlds. One night, I came home drunk, and the following morning, I was woken by two burly male nurses.

‘You’re coming with us,’ one of them said.

My mother was crying, and my father was doing his best to hide any feelings he might have.

‘It’s for your own good,’ he said. ‘We’re just going to have some tests done.’

 

And thus began my journey through various psychiatric hospitals. I was admitted, I was given all kinds of different treatments, and I ran away at the first opportunity, travelling around for as long as I could bear it, then going back to my parents’ house. We enjoyed a kind of honeymoon period, but, after a while, I again started to get into what my family called ‘bad company’, and the nurses reappeared.

 

There are some battles in life that have only two possible outcomes: they either destroy us or they make us strong. The psychiatric hospital was one such battle.

 

One night, talking to another patient, I said:

‘You know, I think nearly everyone, at some point in his life, has dreamed of being President of the Republic. But neither you nor I can ever aspire to that, because our medical record won’t let us.’

‘Then we’ve got nothing to lose,’ said the other man. ‘We can just do whatever we want to do.’

 

It seemed to me he was right. The situation I found myself in was so strange, so extreme, that it brought with it something unprecedented: total freedom. All my family’s efforts to make me the same as everyone else had exactly the opposite result: I was now completely different from all the other young men of my own age.

 

That same night, I considered my future. One option was to become a writer; the other, which seemed more viable, was to go properly mad. I would be supported by the State, I would never have to work or take on any responsibility. I would, of course, have to spend a great deal of time in mental institutions, but I knew from my own experience that patients there do not behave like the mad people you see in Hollywood films. Apart from a few pathological cases of catatonia or schizophrenia, all the other patients were perfectly capable of talking about life and had their own highly original ideas on the subject. Every now and then, they would suffer panic attacks, bouts of depression or aggression, but these did not last.

 

The greatest risk I ran in hospital was not of losing all hope of ever becoming President of the Republic, nor of feeling marginalised or unfairly treated by my family – because in my heart I knew that having me admitted to hospital was a desperate act of love and over-protectiveness on their part. The greatest risk I ran was of coming to think of that situation as normal.

When I came out of hospital for the third time – after the usual cycle of escaping from hospital/travelling around/going back home/enjoying a honeymoon period with my family/getting into bad company again/being readmitted into hospital – I was nearly twenty and had become accustomed to that rhythm of events. This time, however, something had changed.

 

Although I again got into ‘bad company’, my parents were growing reluctant to have me readmitted to a mental hospital. Unbeknown to me, they were by then convinced that I was a hopeless case, and preferred to keep me with them and to support me for the rest of my life.

 

My behaviour went from bad to worse, I became more aggressive, but still there was no mention of hospital. I experienced a period of great joy as I tried to exercise my so-called freedom, in order, finally, to live the ‘artist’s life’. I left the new job my parents had found for me, I stopped studying, and I dedicated myself exclusively to the theatre and to frequenting the bars favoured by intellectuals. For one long year, I did exactly as I pleased; but then the theatre group was broken up by the political police, the bars became infiltrated by spies, my stories were rejected by every publisher I sent them to, and none of the girls I knew wanted to go out with me – because I was a young man without a future, with no real career, and who had never even been to university.

 

So, one day, I decided to trash my bedroom. It was a way of saying, without words: ‘You see, I can’t live in the real world. I can’t get a job, I can’t realise my dream. I think you’re absolutely right: I am mad, and I want to go back to the mental hospital!’

 

Fate can be so ironic* When I had finished wrecking my room, I was relieved to see that my parents were phoning the psychiatric hospital. However, the doctor who usually dealt with me was on holiday. The nurses arrived with a junior doctor in tow. He saw me sitting there surrounded by torn-up books, broken records, ripped curtains, and asked my family and the nurses to leave the room.

‘What’s going on?’ he asked.

I didn’t reply. A madman should always behave like someone not of this world.

‘Stop playing around,’ he said. ‘I’ve been reading your case history. You’re not mad at all, and I won’t admit you to the hospital.’

He left the room, wrote a prescription for some tranquillisers and (so I found out later) told my parents that I was suffering from ‘admission syndrome’. Normal people who, at some point, find themselves in an abnormal situation – such as depression, panic, etc. – occasionally use illness as an alternative to life. That is, they choose to be ill, because being ‘normal’ is too much like hard work. My parents listened to his advice and never again had me admitted into a mental institution.

 

From then on, I could no longer seek comfort in madness. I had to lick my wounds alone, I had to lose some battles and win others, I often had to abandon my impossible dream and work in offices instead, until, one day, I gave it all up for the nth time and I went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. There I realised that I could not keep refusing to face up to my fate of ‘being an artist’, which, in my case, meant being a writer. So, at 38, I decided to write my first book and to risk entering into a battle which I had always subconsciously feared: the battle for a dream.

 

I found a publisher and that first book (The Pilgrimage – about my experience on the Road to Santiago) led me to The Alchemist, which led me to others, which led to translations, which led to lectures and conferences all over the world. Although I had kept postponing my dream, I realised that I could do so no longer, and that the Universe always favours those who fight for what they want.

 

In 1997, after an exhausting promotional tour across three continents, I began to notice a very odd phenomenon: what I had wanted on that day when I trashed my bedroom seemed to be something a lot of other people wanted too. People preferred to live in a huge asylum, religiously following rules written by who knows who, rather than fighting for the right to be different. On a flight to Tokyo, I read the following in a newspaper:

 

According to Statistics Canada: 40% of people between 15 and 34, 33% of people between 35 and 54, and 20% of people between 55 and 64 have already had some kind of mental illness. It is thought that one in every five individuals suffers from some form of psychiatric disorder.

 

I thought: Canada has never had a military dictatorship, it’s considered to have the best quality of life in the world, why then are there so many mad people there? Why aren’t they in mental hospitals?

 

That question led me on to another: what exactly is madness?

I found the answers to both those questions. First, people aren’t in mental institutions because they continue to be socially productive. If you are capable of getting in to work at 9.00 a.m. and staying until 5.00 p.m., then society does not consider you incapacitated. It doesn’t matter if, from 5.01 p.m. until 8.59 a.m. you sit in a catatonic state in front of the television, indulge in the most perverted sexual fantasies on the Internet, stare at the wall, blaming the world for everything and feeling generally put upon, feel afraid to go out into the street, are obsessed with cleanliness or a lack of cleanliness, suffer from bouts of depression and compulsive crying. As long as you can turn up for work and do your bit for society, you don’t represent a threat. You’re only a threat when the cup finally overflows and you go out into the street with a machine gun in your hand, like a character in a child’s cartoon, and kill fifteen children in order to alert the world to the pernicious effects of Tom and Jerry. Until you do that, you are deemed to be normal.

 

And madness? Madness is the inability to communicate.

 

Between normality and madness, which are basically the same thing, there exists an intermediary stage: it is called ‘being different’. And people were becoming more and more afraid of ‘being different’. In Japan, after giving much thought to the statistical information I had just read, I decided to write a book based on my own experiences. I wrote Veronika Decides to Die, in the third person and using my feminine ego, because I knew that the important subject to be addressed was not what I personally had experienced in mental institutions, but, rather, the risks we run by being different and yet our horror of being the same.

When I had finished, I went and talked to my father. Once the difficult time of adolescence and early youth was over, my parents never forgave themselves for what they did to me. I always told them that it really hadn’t been that bad and that prison (for I was imprisoned three times for political reasons) had left far deeper scars, but my parents refused to believe me and spent the rest of their lives blaming themselves.

 

‘I’ve written a book about a mental institution,’ I said to my 85-year-old father. ‘It’s a fictional work, but there are a couple of pages where I speak as myself. It means going public about the time I spent in mental hospitals.’

My father looked me in the eye and said:

‘Are you sure it won’t harm you in any way?’

‘Yes, I’m sure.’

‘Then go ahead. I’m tired of secrets.’

 

Veronika Decides to Die came out in Brazil in August 1998. By September, I had received more than 1,200 e-mails and letters relating similar experiences. In October, some of the themes touched on in the book – depression, panic attacks, suicide – were discussed in a seminar that had national repercussions. On 22 January 1999, Senator Eduardo Suplicy, read out passages from my book to the other senators, and managed to get approval for a law which they had been trying to get through the Brazilian Congress for the last ten years, a law forbidding arbitrary admissions into mental institutions.

 

                    Paulo Coelho

                    Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

 

5 MIN LEITURA “Papai escrevi um livro sobre minha internação”

“Entrei num pequeno cubículo, com paredes de ladrilho. Havia uma cama coberta por uma manta de borracha, e um aparelho com uma manivela na cabeceira. 

– Então, vou tomar choque elétrico – disse para o Dr. Benjamim Gaspar Gomes. 

– Não se preocupe. – É muito mais traumático ver do que de levar. Não dói nada. 

Deitei-me, e o enfermeiro colocou uma espécie de tubo em minha boca, para que não enrolasse a língua. Depois, colocou dois terminais, parecidos com os auriculares de telefone, nas minhas têmporas. 

Eu estava olhando o teto meio descascado do cubículo, quando escutei rodar a manivela. No momento seguinte, parecia que uma cortina se fechava diante dos meus olhos; a visão foi rapidamente se concentrando em apenas um ponto, e tudo ficou escuro. 

O médico tinha razão; não doeu nada.“

 

A cena que acabo d descrever não faz parte do meu livro, “Veronika Decide Morrer”. Eu a escrevi em meu diário, durante minha segunda internação em um hospital para doentes mentais. Corria o ano de 1966, o Brasil começava a viver o período negro da ditadura militar (1964-1989), e, por uma reação natural do mecanismo social, a repressão externa começava a se transformar numa repressão interna (mais ou menos o que acontece hoje nos EUA, onde ninguém mais olha uma mulher sem ter um advogado ao lado).

Para tanto, era inadmissível que as boas famílias de classe média aceitassem que seus filhos ou netos fossem “artistas”. No Brasil daquela época, esta palavra era sinônimo de homossexual, comunista, drogado e vagabundo. 

Aos 18 anos, eu acreditava que o mundo de meus pais e o meu mundo podiam conviver pacificamente.  Fazia o possível para ter boas notas no colégio jesuíta onde estudava, trabalhava durante a tarde, mas, quando chegava à noite, ia viver o meu verdadeiro sonho: “ser artista”. Como não sabia exatamente por onde começar, a única maneira, foi engajando-me num grupo amador de teatro. Embora jamais tivesse qualquer sonho de atuar profissionalmente, pelo menos estava entre pessoas com as quais tinha afinidades. 

Infelizmente, meus pais não pensavam que dois mundos extremos pudessem conviver. E um belo dia, depois de uma noite quando cheguei bêbado em casa, fui acordado por dois enfermeiros musculosos, me olhando.

– Você precisa vir conosco – disse um deles.

 Minha mãe chorava, meu pai procurava esconder qualquer emoção. 

– É para o seu bem-dizia ele. – Vamos fazer uns exames.

E foi assim que começou minha peregrinação pelos hospitais psiquiátricos. Eu era internado, passava pelos tratamentos mais diversos, terminava fugindo na primeira oportunidade, viajava até não aguentar mais, retornava para a casa de meus pais. Vivíamos um período de lua-de-mel, tornava a entrar para a escola, logo procurava o que a família chamava de “más companhias”, e de novo os enfermeiros apareciam. 

Existem certos combates na vida que só tem dois resultados possíveis: ou nos destroem, ou nos fazem mais fortes. O hospital psiquiátrico foi um destes combates. 

Certa noite, conversando com outro interno, eu disse: 

“Sabe de uma coisa? Penso que todo homem, em algum momento da vida, já sonhou em ser presidente da república. Nem você, nem eu, podemos aspirar a isso, porque nossa biografia não nos deixará. 

“Então não temos mais nada a perder” respondeu o interno. “Vamos fazer o que nos der na cabeça”. 

Senti que ele tinha razão. A situação que eu me encontrava era tão inusitada, tão extrema, que trazia consigo ou aspecto até então desconhecido: a liberdade total. O esforço que minha família tinha feito para que eu fosse igual a todos, dera o resultado exatamente oposto: eu agora era uma pessoa completamente diferente dos meus companheiros de geração. 

Naquela mesma noite, analisei meu futuro. Uma das alternativas era ser escritor. A outra, que me parecia muito mais viável, era tornar-me definitivamente louco. Seria sustentado pelo Estado, não precisaria trabalhar nunca mais, assumir qualquer responsabilidade. Claro, teria que passar muitos dias num asilo de doentes mentais, mas – por experiência própria, eu sabia que os internos não se comportavam como os loucos de filmes de Hollywood; com exceção dos casos patológicos como catatonia ou esquizofrenia, todos os outros eram capazes de discutir sobre a vida com uma rara originalidade em suas avaliações. Vez por outra tinham ataques de pânico, depressão, agressividade – mas eram passageiros. 

O grande perigo que corri no hospital psiquiátrico não foi perder, para sempre, a possibilidade de ser Presidente da República. Tampouco foi o fato de considerar-me marginalizado, ou injustiçado pela minha família – porque meu coração entendia perfeitamente que as internações eram um ato desesperado de amor, de superproteção. O grande perigo que corri foi achar que a situação que me encontrara era normal. 

Quando saí pela terceira vez, seguindo o famoso ciclo de fuga/ viagem/ volta para casa/ lua-de-mel com a família/ más companhias/ internação, eu já tinha quase 20 anos, e me acostumara com este ritmo. Desta vez, porém, alguma coisa havia mudado. 

Apesar de voltar a encontrar-me com as “más companhias”, meus pais estavam relutando em internar-me de novo; sem que eu soubesse, eles já estavam convencidos que eu era um caso perdido, e preferiam me ter junto a eles, sustentando-me pelo resto da vida. 

Eu me tornava cada vez pior, mais agressivo, e nada de internação. Houve um período de alegria, onde procurei exercer minha suposta liberdade para, finalmente, viver minha vida de “artista”. Larguei o novo emprego que me tinham conseguido, parei de estudar, dediquei-me exclusivamente ao teatro e aos bares de intelectuais. Durante um longo ano fiz apenas o que quis até que o grupo de teatro foi dissolvido pela polícia política, os bares passaram a ser espionados, os meus contos eram sempre rejeitados pelos editores, nenhuma das meninas que conhecia tinha qualquer interesse em me namorar – porque eu era um jovem sem futuro, sem carreira definida, sem mesmo ter entrado em uma universidade. 

Então, um belo dia resolvi quebrar todo o meu quarto. Era uma maneira de dizer, sem palavras: “será que vocês não entendem que eu não posso estar aqui fora? Eu não vou conseguir trabalhar, eu não vou conseguir realizar meu sonho, eu acho que vocês têm toda razão! Eu sou louco, e quero voltar para o hospício!”

Como o destino é irônico. Quando terminei de destruir meu quarto, e vi – aliviado – que ligavam para o hospital psiquiátrico, o médico que sempre cuidava de mim estava de férias. Mandaram um estagiário com os dois enfermeiros. O estagiário me viu sentado no meio de uma pilha de livros rasgados, discos quebrados, cortinas destruídas, e mandou que a família e os enfermeiros saíssem. 

– O que é isso? – ele me perguntou. 

Eu não respondi. Um louco deve comportar-se como alguém ausente da realidade. 

– Deixa de bobagem – disse o estagiário. – Estive lendo seu prontuário, e de louco você não tem nada. Não vou te internar. 

Saiu, receitou uns calmantes, e (eu soube depois) disse aos meus pais que eu estava tendo a “síndrome da internação”: pessoas normais que por algum momento viveram uma situação anormal – como depressão, pânico etc. – e passam a utilizar a doença como a única alternativa da vida. Ou seja, escolhem ser doentes, porque ser “normal” dá muito trabalho. Meus pais escutaram o conselho, e nunca mais voltaram a me internar. 

A partir daí, o conforto da loucura jamais me seria oferecido de novo. Eu tinha que lamber minhas feridas sozinho, perder as batalhas, ganhar outras, desistir muitas vezes do meu sonho impossível, arranjar empregos burocráticos, até que um dia larguei tudo pela enésima vez, fiz a peregrinação à Santiago de Compostela, e entendi que não poderia continuar negando sempre enfrentar-me com o meu destino: “ser artista.” No meu caso específico, ser um escritor. Então, aos 38 anos, decidi escrever o meu primeiro livro, e arriscar-me no combate que inconscientemente sempre temera: a luta por um sonho. 

Consegui um editor, e este livro (“O Diário de um mago”, sobre a experiencia no Caminho de Santiago) me levou ao “O Alquimista”, que me levou a outros, que me levou a traduções, que me levou a conferências e palestras no mundo inteiro; embora estivesse adiando tanto o meu sonho, agora via não era tão impossível assim, e que o Universo sempre conspira a favor daqueles que lutam pelo que querem. 

Em 1997, no final de um exaustivo tour promocional por três continentes, comecei a notar algo muito estranho: o que eu havia desejado no dia em que quebrei meu quarto, parecia ser uma aspiração coletiva. As pessoas preferiam viver num imenso hospício, seguindo religiosamente regras que ninguém sabe quem criou, ao invés de lutarem pelo direito de serem diferentes. Numa viagem de avião para Tokio, vi no jornal o seguinte texto:

De acordo com o centro de estatística de Canada: 40% das pessoas entre 15 e 34 anos, 33% das pessoas entre 35 e 54 anos e 20% das pessoas entre 55 e 64 anos já tiveram algum tipo de doença mental. Acredita-se que um em cada cinco indivíduos sofra de algum tipo de transtorno psiquiátrico.

 

E eu pensei: o Canadá não passou por ditadura militar, é considerado o país com maior qualidade de vida do mundo, por que será que lá existem tantos loucos? Por que não estão no hospício? 

Esta pergunta me levou à outra: o que é exatamente a loucura? 

Encontrei resposta para as duas. A primeira: as pessoas não estão em asilos porque continuam socialmente produtivas. Desde que você seja capaz de chegar as 9:00 e sair as 17:00 do emprego, você não é considerado incapaz pela sociedade. Não importa se, das 17:01 até as 8:59 você fique em estado catatônico diante da televisão, tenha as mais pervertidas fantasias sexuais na Internet, esteja olhando a parede, culpando o mundo, sentindo-se injustiçado, com pânico de sair à rua, com excesso de higiene, com falta de higiene, com crises depressivas e choro compulsivo. Enquanto você for capaz de comparecer ao trabalho e dar sua cota para a sociedade, você não constitui uma ameaça. Você só ameaça quando o cálice transborda e, de uma hora para outra, sai na rua com uma metralhadora, entra num filme infantil, e mata quinze crianças para alertar ao mundo que “Tom & Jerry” é pernicioso na educação. Enquanto você não fizer isso, você é condenado um ser normal. 

E a loucura? A loucura é a incapacidade de comunicar-se. 

Entre a normalidade e a loucura, que no fundo são a mesma coisa, existe um estado intermediário: chama-se “ser diferente”. E as pessoas estavam cada vez com mais medo de “ser diferentes”. No Japão, depois de ter pensado muito sobre as estatísticas que acabara de ler, me veio a ideia de escrever um livro sobre a minha própria experiencia. Escrevi “Veronika decide morrer” na terceira pessoa, usando o meu ego feminino, porque sabia que a minha experiencia de internação não era o que interessava – mas sim os riscos de ser diferente, e o horror de ser igual. 

Quando terminei, fui falar com meu pai. Depois de passado o período difícil da adolescência e início da minha juventude, meus pais nunca se perdoaram pelo que fizeram. Eu sempre insistia que tampouco tinha sido algo tão sério, e que a prisão (também estive preso três vezes, por razões políticas) tinha me marcado muito mais. Mas meus pais não acreditavam, e viviam se culpando. 

– Escrevi um livro sobre o asilo mental – disse ao meu pai de 85 anos. – É um livro de ficção, mas em duas páginas eu me colocava como personagem. Isso vai tornar público as minhas internações psiquiátricas. 

Meu pai me olhou nos olhos e disse:

– Tem certeza de que isso não vai te prejudicar?

– Tenho, papai. 

– Então vá adiante. Eu já estava cansado de guardar segredo.

 

Veronika decide morrer saiu em agosto de 1998 no Brasil. Em setembro, eu tinha mais de 1.200 e-mails, cartas, narrando experiencias semelhantes. Em outubro, alguns dos temas tocados no livro – depressão, síndrome do pânico, suicídio – foram discutidos num seminário com repercussão nacional.  Em 22 de Janeiro de 1999, o Senador Eduardo Suplicy, lendo em plenário trechos do meu livro, conseguiu aprovar uma lei que já transitava há dez anos no Congresso Brasileiro, proibindo as internações arbitrárias. 

“ESCRIBI UN LIBRO SOBRE UN HOSPITAL PSIQUIÁTRICO, PAPÁ”

“Entré a una habitación pequeña, con paredes de ladrillo. Había una cama que tenía un cobertor de goma y un aparato con una manija en la cabecera.

    – Así que me va a aplicar la electroterapia – le dije al Dr. Benjamim Gaspar Gomes.

    – No se preocupe. – Es mucho más traumático verlo que soportarlo. No duele nada – me respondió.

    El enfermero me puso en la boca una especie de tubo, para impedir que se me enrollara la lengua. Después me colocó en las sienes dos cables que parecían auriculares.

    Yo estaba mirando el techo medio descascarado de la habitación, cuando escuché el sonido de la manija que giraba. Enseguida me pareció que una cortina caía frente a mis ojos; la visión se me fue concentrando rápidamente en un solo punto, y todo quedó a oscuras.

    El médico tenía razón: no dolía nada.”

   

 

    La escena que acabo de describir no forma parte de mi libro, Veronika Decide Morrir: la escribí en mi diario, durante mi segunda internación en un hospital para enfermos mentales. Corría el año 1966. Brasil comenzaba a vivir el período negro de la dictadura militar (1964 – 1989) y, por una reacción natural del mecanismo social, la represión externa empezaba a transformarse en una represión interna.

    Mientras tanto, resultaba inadmisible que las buenas familias de clase media aceptaran que sus hijos o nietos fueran “artistas”. En el Brasil de aquella época, esta palabra era sinónimo de homosexual, comunista, drogadicto y vagabundo.

    A los 18 años, yo creía que el mundo de mis padres y mi mundo podían convivir de manera pacífica. Hacía lo posible para sacar buenas notas en el colegio jesuita donde estudiaba, y por las tardes trabajaba. Pero cuando llegaba la noche, vivía mi verdadero sueño: “ser artista”. Como no sabía exactamente por dónde empezar, la única manera fue unirme a un grupo de aficionados al teatro. Aunque no me imaginaba como actor profesional, por lo menos estaría entre personas con las que tenía afinidades.

    Lamentablemente, mis padres no creían en la convivencia de dos mundos extremos. Entonces, al despertarme una hermosa mañana, después de cierta noche en que llegué a casa borracho, vi que dos enfermeros musculosos estaban observándome.

    – Tendrás que venir con nosotros – me dijo uno de ellos.

    Mi madre lloraba; mi padre intentaba esconder sus emociones.

    – Es por tu bien – me decía él. – Te van a hacer unos análisis.

    Y así fue como comenzó mi peregrinación por los hospitales psiquiátricos. Me internaban, me daban los tratamientos más diversos, terminaba huyendo en la primera oportunidad, viajaba hasta que ya no daba más, volvía a la casa de mis padres. Vivíamos un período de luna de miel, yo volvía a la escuela, empezaba a rodearme de gente que mi familia consideraba “malas compañías”, y entonces volvían a aparecer los enfermeros.

    En la vida hay ciertas luchas que tienen sólo dos resultados posibles: o nos destruyen, o nos hacen más fuertes. El hospital psiquiátrico fue una de esas luchas.

    Cierta noche, mientras conversaba con otro interno, le dije:

    “¿Sabes qué? Creo que todo hombre, en algún momento de su vida, sueña con ser presidente de la república. Ni tú ni yo podemos aspirar a eso, porque nuestra biografía no nos lo permitirá.

    “Entonces no tenemos nada que perder”, me respondió. “Vamos a hacer lo que se nos ocurra.”

    Sentí que tenía razón. La situación en que me encontraba era tan inusitada, tan extrema, que conllevaba un aspecto hasta entonces desconocido: la libertad total. El esfuerzo que mis padres habían hecho para que yo fuera igual a todos, había dado el resultado opuesto: ahora yo era una persona completamente distinta de mis congéneres.

    Aquella misma noche analicé mi futuro. Una de las alternativas era ser escritor. La otra, que me parecía mucho más viable, era volverme definitivamente loco. El Estado sustentaría mis gastos, y yo no necesitaría volver a trabajar ni a asumir ninguna responsabilidad. Claro, tendría que pasar muchos días en un asilo para enfermos mentales, pero por experiencia propia yo sabía que los internos no se comportaban como los locos de las películas de Hollywood; a excepción de los casos patológicos de catatonía o esquizofrenia, los demás eran capaces de hablar sobre la vida haciendo apreciaciones de singular originalidad. De vez en cuando tenían ataques de pánico, depresión o agresividad, pero eran pasajeros.

    El gran peligro que corrí en el hospital psiquiátrico no fue perder, para siempre, la posibilidad de ser presidente de la república. Tampoco fue el hecho de considerarme marginado, o víctima de una injusticia por parte de mi familia, porque en mi corazón entendía perfectamente que las internaciones eran un acto desesperado de amor, de sobreprotección. El gran peligro que corrí fue considerar que la situación en que me encontraba era normal.

    Cuando salí por tercera vez, repitiendo el famoso ciclo de fuga/viaje/vuelta a casa/luna de miel con mi familia/malas compañías/internación, ya tenía casi 20 años y me había acostumbrado a ese ritmo. Pero esta vez algo había cambiado.

    A pesar de que volví a frecuentar las “malas compañías”, mis padres se mostraban reluctantes a internarme de nuevo; sin que yo lo supiera, ellos ya se habían convencido de que yo era un caso perdido y preferían tenerme junto a ellos, aguantándome por el resto de la vida.

    Yo estaba cada vez peor, más agresivo, pero la internación no llegaba. Hubo un período de alegría, cuando procuré ejercer mi supuesta libertad para, por fin, vivir mi vida de “artista”. Abandoné el empleo que me habían conseguido, dejé de estudiar, me dediqué en forma exclusiva al teatro y a los bares de intelectuales. Durante un largo año fui apenas lo que quise hasta que la policía política disolvió el grupo de teatro y empezó a controlar los bares; los editores rechazaban todos mis cuentos; ninguna de mis amigas tenía interés en enamorarse de mí… porque yo era un joven sin futuro, sin una carrera definida, que ni siquiera había ingresado a la universidad.

    Entonces, una hermosa mañana, decidí destruir mi habitación. Era una manera de decir, sin palabras: “¿es que ustedes no entienden que yo no puedo estar aquí afuera? ¡Yo no voy a poder trabajar, y no voy a poder realizar mi sueño; creo que ustedes tienen toda la razón! ¡Soy loco, y quiero volver al hospicio!”

    Cuánta ironía nos reserva el destino … Cuando terminé de destruir mi habitación y vi -con alivio- que llamaban por teléfono al hospital psiquiátrico, resultó que el médico que me atendía estaba de vacaciones. Mandaron a un médico reemplazante junto con los dos enfermeros. El médico me vio sentado en el medio de una pila de libros rotos, discos partidos, cortinas destruidas, y les pidió a mis padres y a los enfermeros que salieran.

    -¿Qué es todo esto? – me preguntó.

    No le respondí. Un loco debe comportarse como alguien que está ausente de la realidad.

    – Déjate de pavadas – me dijo el médico. – Estuve leyendo tu historia clínica, y de loco no tienes nada. No te voy a internar.

    Salió, me recetó unos calmantes y (esto lo supe después) les dijo a mis padres que yo estaba sufriendo el “síndrome de la internación”: personas normales que en algún momento vivieron una situación anormal -como depresión, pánico, etc.- y que empiezan a utilizar ese malestar como la única alternativa de vida. O sea que eligen estar enfermos, porque ser “normales” da mucho trabajo. Mis padres escucharon el consejo, y jamás volvieron a internarme.

    A partir de entonces, nunca se me volvería a ofrecer la comodidad de la locura. Tuve que lamerme mis propias heridas, perder algunas batallas, ganar otras, desistir muchas veces de mi sueño imposible, aceptar empleos burocráticos, hasta que un día largué todo por enésima vez, me fui de peregrinación a Santiago de Compostela, y entendí que no podría seguir negándome para siempre a enfrentarme con mi destino: “ser artista”. En mi caso específico, ser un escritor. Entonces, a los 38 años, decidí escribir mi primer libro, y arriesgarme a la lucha que inconscientemente tanto había temido: pelear por un sueño.

    Conseguí un editor, y este libro (El Peregrino de Compostela, acerca de mi experiencia en el Camino de Santiago) me llevó a escribir El Alquimista, que me llevó a escribir otros, que me llevaron a publicar traducciones, que me llevaron a dar conferencias por el mundo entero. A pesar de todos los aplazamientos que le había puesto a mi sueño, ahora veía que no era algo tan imposible, y que el Universo siempre conspira a favor de aquellos que luchan por lo que quieren.

    En 1997, al final de una extenuante gira promocional por tres continentes, comencé a notar algo muy extraño: lo que yo había deseado el día en que destruí mi habitación parecía ser una aspiración colectiva. La gente prefiere vivir en un hospicio inmenso, cumpliendo con religiosidad unas reglas dictadas por vaya a saber quién, en lugar de luchar por el derecho de ser diferente. En un vuelo hacia Tokyo, leí en un periódico el siguiente texto:

    Según la Oficina de Estadísticas de Canadá: el 40% de las personas de entre 15 y 34 años; el 33% de las personas de entre 35 y 54 años, y el 20% de las personas de entre 55 y 64 años han tenido algún tipo de enfermedad mental. Se cree que uno de cada cinco individuos sufre de alguna forma de desorden psiquiátrico.

    Y pensé: Canadá no pasó por una dictadura militar; es considerado el país con mejor calidad de vida del mundo, ¿por qué sera que hay tantos locos allí? ¿Por qué no están en el hospicio?

    Esta pregunta me llevó a otra: ¿qué es la locura, exactamente?

    Encontré la respuesta para las dos preguntas. La primera: las personas no están en los asilos porque siguen siendo productivas para la sociedad. Si uno es capaz de llegar al trabajo a las 9:00 hs. y salir a las 17:00 hs, la sociedad no lo considera incapaz. No importa si, desde las 17:01 hasta las 08:59, uno permanece en estado catatónico frente al televisor, tiene las fantasías sexuales más pervertidas a través de la Internet, se queda mirando la pared, culpando al mundo, sintiéndose víctima de una injusticia o tiene miedo de salir a la calle; si comete exceso de higiene, o falta de higiene, si sufre crisis depresivas y llanto compulsivo. En tanto uno sea capaz de presentarse a trabajar y hacer su contribución a la sociedad, no constituye una amenaza. Uno se transforma en una amenaza sólo cuando el asunto se desborda y, de un momento al otro, sale a la calle con una ametralladora, entra a un cine donde dan una película infantil y mata a quince niños para advertirle al mundo que Tom & Jerry es pernicioso para la educación. En tanto uno no haga eso, está condenado a ser una persona normal.

    ¿Y la locura? La locura es la incapacidad de comunicarse.

    Entre la normalidad y la locura, que en el fondo son la misma cosa, existe un estado intermedio: el “ser diferente”. Y la gente tenía cada vez más miedo de “ser diferente”. En Japón, después de haber pensado mucho sobre la estadística que acababa de leer, me asaltó la idea de escribir un libro sobre mi propia experiencia. Escribí Verónica decide morir en tercera persona, usando mi ego femenino, porque sabía que lo que interesaba no era mi experiencia de las internaciones sino los riesgos de ser diferente, y el horror de ser igual.

    Cuando terminé, fui a hablar con mi padre. Pasado el período difícil de la adolescencia y el inicio de mi juventud, mis padres nunca se perdonaron por lo que me hicieron. Yo siempre insistía en que tampoco había sido algo tan grave, y que la carcel (también estuve preso tres veces, por razones políticas) me había dejado marcas más profundas. Pero mis padres no me creían, y vivían culpándose.

    -Escribí un libro sobre un hospital psiquiátrico – le dije a mi padre de 85 años. – Es un libro de ficción, pero en dos páginas me puse como personaje. Eso va a hacer públicas mis internaciones psiquiátricas.

    Mi padre me miró directo a los ojos y me preguntó:

    -¿Estás seguro de que no va a perjudicarte?

    – Estoy seguro, papá.

    – Entonces, adelante. Ya me había cansado de guardar el secreto.

    Verónica decide morir se publicó en agosto de 1998 en Brasil. En septiembre, había recibido más de 1.200 emails y cartas que me contaban experiencias semejantes. En octubre, algunos de los temas tratados en el libro -depresión, síndrome de pánico, suicidio- fueron discutidos en un seminario que tuvo repercusión nacional. El 22 de enero de ese mismo año, el senador Eduardo Suplicy, al leer tramos de mi libro en una sesión plenaria, consiguió aprobar una ley que andaba dando vueltas por el Congreso de Brasil desde hacía diez años: la que prohíbe las internaciones hospitalarias arbitrarias.

Olvidar es una actitud equivocada

Un lector destaca algunas de mis frases que las he compartido en mis libros. Aquí algunas de ellas:

-Trata de dejarte llevar por la noche de vez en cuando, observa las estrellas e intenta embriagarte con la sensación de infinito. La noche, con todos sus sortilegios, también es un camino hacia la iluminación. Igual que el pozo oscuro tiene en el fondo el agua que sacia la sed, la noche, cuyo misterio nos acerca a Dios, esconde en sus sombras la llama capaz de iluminar nuestra alma.

-Todo hombre feliz era un hombre que llevaba a Dios dentro de sí. Y que la felicidad se podía encontrar en un simple grano de arena del desierto.

-Lo peor era escoger, y pasarse el resto de la vida pensando si se escogió bien. Ninguna persona era capaz de escoger sin miedo.

-Si no tenemos miedo de las tinieblas, es porque somos compañeros de la luz.

-Dios está cerca de nosotros, independientemente de las oraciones que digamos.

-Es bueno hablar de flores en otoño. Nos da la esperanza de la primavera.

-Dios está aquí, ahora, a nuestro lado. Podemos verlo en esta bruma, en este suelo, en estas ropas, en estos zapatos. Sus ángeles velan mientras dormimos, y nos ayudan cuando trabajamos.

-Para escuchar las palabras del Amor, es necesario dejar que se acerque.

-Siga sus sueños, transforme su vida en un camino que conduzca hasta Dios. Realice sus milagros. Cure. Realice profecías. Escuche a su ángel de la guarda. Transfórmese. Sea un guerrero, y sea feliz en el combate. Corra sus riesgos.

-Olvidar es una actitud equivocada. Lo correcto es afrontar.

-Es bueno que aprendas que todo en la vida tiene un precio. Y esto es lo que los Guerreros de la Luz intentan enseñar.

-¡Ay de los que nunca han sido vencidos! Tampoco serán vencedores en esta vida.

-No existe la tragedia, sino lo inevitable. Todo tiene su razón de ser: solo necesitas saber distinguir lo que es pasajero de lo que es definitivo.

Si este camino no me enseña nada nuevo a partir de ahora, por lo menos habré aprendido algo importante: es preciso correr riesgos.

-Es mejor tomarse los desafíos como una fuente de conocimiento y no como nuestros enemigos.

-Son las contradicciones las que hacen crecer el amor. Son los conflictos los que permiten que el amor siga a nuestro lado.

-Para encontrar la paz en el cielo, hay que encontrar el amor en la Tierra. Sin él, no valemos nada.

-Amémonos los unos a los otros, pero no intentemos poseernos los unos a los otros.

-El que no comparte con los demás las alegrías y los momentos de desánimo jamás conocerá sus propias cualidades ni sus defectos.

-Los victoriosos no repiten el mismo error. Por eso el Guerrero solo arriesga su corazón por algo que vale la pena.

-Y los que creen que la aventura es peligrosa que intenten la rutina: mata antes de tiempo.

-La sabiduría y la experiencia no transforman al hombre. El tiempo no transforma al hombre. Lo único que nos transforma es el amor.

-El amor puede llevarnos al infierno o al paraíso, pero siempre nos lleva a algún sitio. Es necesario aceptarlo, pues es el alimento de nuestra existencia.

-El mensaje del amor está en la manera de vivir mi vida, no en mis palabras o en mis actos.

-Cuando quiera algo, mantenga los ojos bien abiertos, concéntrese y tenga muy claro lo que desea.

-Ama. Porque serás el primero en beneficiarte de ello.

7 powerful quotes from “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

 

With 65 million (* update from the blog: over 80 mio copies) copies sold and translated close to 80 languages, the Alchemist remains to be seen, one of the best selling books in history. Written in 1988 by Paulo Coelho, the story is an allegory about a young shepherd in search of his treasure. According to Coelho, he wrote this profound spiritual novel in just 2 weeks. When asked, he explained that he was able to write at this pace because the story was “already written in [his] soul.”

I chance upon this novel every few years and every time I read it, I glean something different from it. Captivating and stupendously uplifting, no book list is complete without this gem. And let me share some of the more endearing quotes from the book which is reason alone for you to pick it up for your reading list.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

When we want something in life, then it’s our responsibility to get up and do something about it. Too often in life, we let fate decide our day to day actions and hope all too much that things will work out in the end. Here’s a small excerpt from the book which captures the quintessence of this little thought.

“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the little boy asks. The old man replies, “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.

But who knows? If we do our part, maybe the universe does so too?

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

If we get everything we want in life, the minute we want it, then what is the point? Maybe some things aren’t meant to come to fruition no matter how hard one tries. But hey? Isn’t that what makes it all the more interesting and worth trying for. The possibility that it can come true?

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

This made me reminisce about a poem I came across a few years back. This magical little piece reminds us to appreciate and not take granted, the simple things we have in life and find joy and wonder in the so-called ordinary.

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.” — William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

“Why do we have to listen to our hearts?” the boy asked.
“Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Popularized in pop culture by the Harry Potter series. In the book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J. K. Rowling, it is written that the inscription on the tombstone of Ariana Dumbledore reads

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.

The most basic interpretation of this would be that the things that are truly treasures, things that have true value are the things you love: family, friends, etc.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

A reminder to keep pushing forward no matter what adversities we face. Because at the end of the day, we only miss the shots we don’t take. So keep dreaming and keep trying until your goals become a reality.

Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Take this opportunity to cultivate gratitude for all the blessings in your life. We may not realize it but the lives we lead today are distant dreams for many. And taking it for granted is the last thing we ought to be doing in such dire times.

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now”Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Coelho, in this beautiful passage, urges us to be more mindful of the present. How we spend our days is quite frankly, how we spend our lives and the quality of our lives does depend on the quality of our days. If happiness is what we’ve been striving for all along, then there isn’t a more helpful, insightful answer than this.

Life goes by in the blink of an eye. And trust me, you will not regret picking up this masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

 

1 min read: the fisherman and the businessman

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”


classic Brazilian story, probably also present in other cultures. Someone found the English version, but I could not identify the translator

30 frases (Portugues)

Quem tentar possuir uma flor, verá sua beleza murchando. Mas quem apenas olhar uma flor num campo, permanecerá para sempre com ela. Você nunca será minha e por isso terei você para sempre.

Quem tentar possuir uma flor, verá sua beleza murchando. Mas quem apenas olhar uma flor num campo, permanecerá para sempre com ela. Você nunca será minha e por isso terei você para sempre.

Paulo Coelho (Brida, 1990)

 

Por detrás da máscara de gelo que as pessoas usam, existe um coração de fogo.

Paulo Coelho (crônica Saber escutar um ‘não’, G1, 2010)

Você foi a esperança nos meus dias de solidão,a angústia dos meus instantes de dúvida, a certeza nos momentos de fé.

Você foi a esperança nos meus dias de solidão,a angústia dos meus instantes de dúvida, a certeza nos momentos de fé.

Paulo Coelho (Brida, 1990)

O amor não é apenas um sentimento; é uma arte. E, como qualquer arte, não basta inspiração, é preciso também muito trabalho.

Paulo Coelho

Existem certos sofrimentos que só podem ser esquecidos quando podemos flutuar por cima de nossas dores.

Existem certos sofrimentos que só podem ser esquecidos quando podemos flutuar por cima de nossas dores.

Paulo Coelho (Manual do Guerreiro da Luz, 1997)

Sempre que possível, seja claro. Mas que sua clareza não seja o motivo para ferir o outros.

Paulo Coelho (Twitter, 2012)

 

Cobrimos os gestos bons com ironia e descaso como se o amor fosse sinônimo de fraqueza.

Paulo Coelho

Esperar dói, esquecer dói, mas não saber se deve esperar ou esquecer é a pior das dores.

Esperar dói, esquecer dói, mas não saber se deve esperar ou esquecer é a pior das dores.

Paulo Coelho (Na Margem do Rio Piedra Eu Sentei e Chorei, 1994)

Ficar em silêncio não significa não falar, mas abrir os ouvidos para escutar tudo que está a nossa volta.

Ficar em silêncio não significa não falar, mas abrir os ouvidos para escutar tudo que está a nossa volta.

Paulo Coelho (crônica A reflexão, G1, 2007)

 

O amor é arriscado, mas sempre foi assim. Há milhares de anos as pessoas se buscam e se encontram.

Paulo Coelho (Palavras Essenciais, 2007)

Mensagens inteligentes para você refletir

Por mais que algumas pessoas torçam o nariz para as obras de Paulo Coelho, é inegável o seu talento para escrita. Membro da Academia Brasileira de Letras há mais de 15 anos, o autor foi um dos principais compositores das músicas de Raul Seixas, um dos homens mais influentes do rock nacional.

Reflexões inteligentes e espiritualistas rondam suas obras, selecionamos algumas de suas melhores frases “cabeça”.

“Não existe nada de completamente errado no mundo, minha filha”, disse o seu pai, olhando o relógio. “Mesmo um relógio parado consegue estar certo duas vezes por dia.”

“Não existe nada de completamente errado no mundo, minha filha”, disse o seu pai, olhando o relógio.
“Mesmo um relógio parado consegue estar certo duas vezes por dia.”

Paulo Coelho (Brida, 1990)

Poucos aceitam o fardo da própria vitória; a maioria desiste dos sonhos quando eles se tornam possíveis.

Paulo Coelho

Saímos pelo mundo em busca de nossos sonhos e ideais. Muitas vezes colocamos nos lugares inacessíveis o que está ao alcance das mãos.

Saímos pelo mundo em busca de nossos sonhos e ideais. Muitas vezes colocamos nos lugares inacessíveis o que está ao alcance das mãos.

Paulo Coelho (Manual do Guerreiro da Luz, 1997)

Deus usa o silêncio para ensinar sobre a responsabilidade das palavras.

Paulo Coelho (Manual do Guerreiro da Luz, 1997)

Não se deixe intimidar pela opinião dos outros. Só a mediocridade é segura, por isso corra seus riscos e faça o que deseja.

Não se deixe intimidar pela opinião dos outros. Só a mediocridade é segura, por isso corra seus riscos e faça o que deseja.

Paulo Coelho (O Aleph, 2011)

Lembre-se de que o primeiro caminho direto até Deus é a oração. O segundo caminho direto é a alegria.

Paulo Coelho (Brida, 1990)

Quantas coisas perdemos por medo de perder

Quantas coisas perdemos por medo de perder

Paulo Coelho (Brida, 1990)

A felicidade às vezes é uma bênção – mas geralmente é uma conquista.

Paulo Coelho

Por medo de diminuir, deixamos de crescer. Por medo de chorar, deixamos de rir.

Por medo de diminuir, deixamos de crescer. Por medo de chorar, deixamos de rir.

Paulo Coelho (Manual do Guerreiro da Luz, 1997)

 

Tudo que acontece uma vez poderá nunca mais acontecer, mas tudo o que acontece duas vezes, certamente acontecerá uma terceira.

Paulo Coelho (O Alquimista,1988)

Escute seu coração. Ele conhece todas as coisas, porque veio da Alma do Mundo e um dia retornará para ela.

Escute seu coração. Ele conhece todas as coisas, porque veio da Alma do Mundo e um dia retornará para ela.

Paulo Coelho

Assim como o lutador, o guerreiro da luz conhece sua imensa força; e jamais luta com quem não merece a honra do combate.

Paulo Coelho (Manual do Guerreiro da Luz, 1997)

 

Quem deseja ver o arco-íris, precisa aprender a gostar da chuva.

Quem deseja ver o arco-íris, precisa aprender a gostar da chuva.

Paulo Coelho (O Aleph, 2011)

A linguagem de seu coração é que irá determinar a maneira correta de descobrir e manejar a sua espada.

Paulo Coelho

As coisas mais simples da vida são as mais extraordinárias, e só os sábios conseguem vê-las.

As coisas mais simples da vida são as mais extraordinárias, e só os sábios conseguem vê-las.

Paulo Coelho (O Alquimista, 1988)

Não tenha medo do sofrimento, pois nenhum coração jamais sofreu quando foi em busca dos seus sonhos.

Paulo Coelho

Isto é a liberdade: sentir o que o seu coração deseja, independente da opinião dos outros.

Isto é a liberdade: sentir o que o seu coração deseja, independente da opinião dos outros.

Paulo Coelho (O Alquimista, 1988)

É preciso correr riscos. Só entendemos direito o milagre da vida quando deixamos que o inesperado aconteça.

Paulo Coelho

Acerte em tudo que puder acertar. Mas não se torture com seus erros.

Acerte em tudo que puder acertar. Mas não se torture com seus erros.

Paulo Coelho (Manuscrito Encontrado em Accra, 2012)

Imagine uma nova história para sua vida e acredite nela.

Paulo Coelho

Descubra sua própria luz, ou passará o resto da vida sendo um pálido reflexo da luz alheia.

Descubra sua própria luz, ou passará o resto da vida sendo um pálido reflexo da luz alheia.

Paulo Coelho (Coleção Contos do Alquimista)

 

Lembre-se que é preciso muita ousadia para chegar às alturas e, ao mesmo tempo, muita profundidade para agarrar-se ao chão.

Paulo Coelho

Feche algumas portas. Não por orgulho ou arrogância, mas porque já não levam a lugar nenhum.

Feche algumas portas. Não por orgulho ou arrogância, mas porque já não levam a lugar nenhum.

Paulo Coelho (O Zahir, 2005)

Os inimigos nem sempre são maus, pois suas críticas negativas nos animam e nos desafiam a provar o quanto somos capazes.

Paulo Coelho

Todos nós, cedo ou tarde, vamos morrer. E só quem aceita isso está preparado para a vida.

Todos nós, cedo ou tarde, vamos morrer. E só quem aceita isso está preparado para a vida.

Paulo Coelho (Veronika Decide Morrer, 1998)

Uma coisa é você achar que está no caminho certo, outra é achar que o seu caminho é o único. Nunca podemos julgar a vida dos outros, porque cada um sabe da sua própria dor e renúncia.

Paulo Coelho (Na Margem do Rio Piedra Eu Sentei e Chorei, 1994)

Quando você quer alguma coisa, todo o universo conspira para que você realize o seu desejo

Quando você quer alguma coisa, todo o universo conspira para que você realize o seu desejo.

Paulo Coelho (trecho adaptado de O Alquimista, 1988)

Toda bênção que não é aceita transforma-se numa maldição.

Paulo Coelho

A possibilidade de realizarmos um sonho é o que torna a vida interessante.

A possibilidade de realizarmos um sonho é o que torna a vida interessante.

Paulo Coelho (trecho adaptado do livro O Alquimista, 1988)

Quando alguém encontra seu caminho precisa ter coragem suficiente para dar passos errados. As decepções, as derrotas, o desânimo são ferramentas que Deus utiliza para mostrar a estrada.

Paulo Coelho (Brida, 1990)

O guerreiro da luz aprendeu que Deus usa a solidão para ensinar a convivência. Usa a raiva para mostrar o infinito valor da paz.

O guerreiro da luz aprendeu que Deus usa a solidão para ensinar a convivência. Usa a raiva para mostrar o infinito valor da paz. Usa o tédio para ressaltar a importância da aventura e do abandono. Deus usa o silêncio para ensinar sobre a responsabilidade das palavras. Usa o cansaço para que se possa compreender o valor do despertar. Usa a doença para ressaltar a benção da saúde. Deus usa o fogo para ensinar sobre a água. Usa a terra para que se compreenda o valor do ar. Usa a morte para mostrar a importância da vida.

Paulo Coelho (Manual do Guerreiro da Luz, 1997)

50 citas en español

 

 

Trata de dejarte llevar por la noche de vez en cuando, observa las estrellas e intenta embriagarte con la sensación de infinito. La noche, con todos sus sortilegios, también es un camino hacia la iluminación. Igual que el pozo oscuro tiene en el fondo el agua que sacia la sed, la noche, cuyo misterio nos acerca a Dios, esconde en sus sombras la llama capaz de iluminar nuestra alma.

Adulterio

 

Todo hombre feliz era un hombre que llevaba a Dios dentro de sí. Y que la felicidad se podía encontrar en un simple grano de arena del desierto.

El Alquimista

 

Lo peor era escoger, y pasarse el resto de la vida pensando si se escogió bien. Ninguna persona era capaz de escoger sin miedo.

Brida

 

Si no tenemos miedo de las tinieblas, es porque somos compañeros de la luz.

Adulterio

 

 

Dios está cerca de nosotros, independientemente de las oraciones que digamos.

Aleph

 

 

Aprovechasteis la oportunidad que la tragedia os brindó, y no cualquiera es capaz de hacer esto.

La Quinta Montaña

 

Es bueno hablar de flores en otoño. Nos da la esperanza de la primavera.

Adulterio

 

Dios está aquí, ahora, a nuestro lado. Podemos verlo en esta bruma, en este suelo, en estas ropas, en estos zapatos. Sus ángeles velan mientras dormimos, y nos ayudan cuando trabajamos.

Para encontrar a Dios, basta con mirar alrededor.

A orillas del río Piedra me senté y lloré

 

 

Para escuchar las palabras del Amor, es necesario dejar que se acerque.
El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

 

 

Ante los ojos de Dios, nada en este mundo está de más.

El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

 

Siga sus sueños, transforme su vida en un camino que conduzca hasta Dios. Realice sus milagros. Cure. Realice profecías. Escuche a su ángel de la guarda. Transfórmese. Sea un guerrero, y sea feliz en el combate. Corra sus riesgos.

A orillas del río Piedra me senté y lloré

 

Olvidar es una actitud equivocada. Lo correcto es afrontar.

Adulterio

 

No se le puede decir a la primavera: «Ojalá que llegues pronto, y que dures bastante.»

Solo se puede decir: «Ven, bendíceme con tu esperanza, y quédate todo el tiempo que puedas.»

Once minutos

 

 

Es bueno que aprendas que todo en la vida tiene un precio. Y esto es lo que los Guerreros de la Luz intentan enseñar.

El Alquimista

 

 

¡Ay de los que nunca han sido vencidos!
Tampoco serán vencedores en esta vida.

El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

 

No existe la tragedia, sino lo inevitable. Todo tiene su razón de ser: solo necesitas saber distinguir lo que es pasajero de lo que es definitivo.

La Quinta Montaña

 

Si este camino no me enseña nada nuevo a partir de ahora, por lo menos habré aprendido algo importante: es preciso correr riesgos.

Brida

 

¿Qué es el pecado? Pecado es impedir que el Amor se manifieste.

La bruja de Portobello

 

Es mejor tomarse los desafíos como una fuente de conocimiento y no como nuestros enemigos.

Adulterio

 

 

Había que correr riesgos, seguir ciertos caminos, y abandonar otros.

Brida

Son las contradicciones las que hacen crecer el amor. Son los conflictos los que permiten que el amor siga a nuestro lado.
La vida es demasiado corta para esconder en nuestro corazón las palabras importantes.
Palabras como «Te amo».

El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

 

Se ama porque se ama. No hay ninguna razón para amar.

El Alquimista

 

Para encontrar la paz en el cielo, hay que encontrar el Amor en la Tierra. Sin él, no valemos nada.

Adulterio

 

 

Amémonos los unos a los otros, pero no intentemos poseernos los unos a los otros.

Once minutos

 

El guerrero jamás pierde de vista las cosas duraderas, y los lazos creados con solidez a través del tiempo.

Un guerrero sabe distinguir lo que es pasajero de lo que es definitivo.

Manual del guerrero de la luz

 

 

El que no comparte con los demás las alegrías y los momentos de desánimo jamás conocerá sus propias cualidades ni sus defectos.

El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

 

Los victoriosos no repiten el mismo error. Por eso el guerrero solo arriesga su corazón por algo que vale la pena.

Manual del guerrero de la luz

 

 

La fe y la transformación son la única manera de acercarnos a Dios.

El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

 

Y los que creen que la aventura es peligrosa que intenten la rutina: mata antes de tiempo.

El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

 

 

 

La sabiduría y la experiencia no transforman al hombre. El tiempo no transforma al hombre. Lo único que nos transforma es el amor.

Adulterio

 

 

El amor puede llevarnos al infierno o al paraíso, pero siempre nos lleva a algún sitio. Es necesario aceptarlo, pues es el alimento de nuestra existencia.

A orillas del río Piedra me senté y lloré

 

Olvidamos todo lo que nos enseñaron respecto al amor, porque cada encuentro es diferente y trae consigo sus propias agonías y éxtasis.

El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

 

 

El mensaje del Amor está en la manera de vivir mi vida, no en mis palabras o en mis actos.

Adulterio

 

 

El sentido de mi vida era el que yo le quisiera dar.

La Quinta Montaña

 

 

Sabiduría es conocer y transformar.

Brida

 

Cuando quiera algo, mantenga los ojos bien abiertos, concéntrese y tenga muy claro lo que desea.

El Demonio y la señorita Prym

 

Yo te amo porque todo el Universo conspiró para que yo llegara hasta ti.

El Alquimista

 

Vivir es tomar decisiones y asumir las consecuencias.

Adulterio

 

Ama. Porque serás el primero en beneficiarte de ello.
El manuscrito encontrado en Accra

My 25 most important points

 

 

Paulo Coelho’s fans often refer to his books as inspiring and life-changing. His words speak to everyone in a different way and everyone has their own favourite passages – as demonstrated by the number of quotes from his books that can be found all over the internet.

Photo: Alex Stephen Teuscher

1. When you want something, the whole universe conspires to make it happen.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

2. Detach from all things and you will be free.

“When I had nothing to lose, I had everything.”

Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

3. We are all here for a purpose.

“No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 

“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.”

4. The only thing standing between you and your dream are your fears.

“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

5. Mistakes are part of life.

“Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn’t have the courage to say “yes” to life?”

From: Eleven Minutes

6. Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies meet.

“Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other. Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn emotionally. These meetings are waiting for us, but more often than not, we avoid them happening. If we are desperate, though, if we have nothing to lose, or if we are full of enthusiasm for life, then the unknown reveals itself, and our universe changes direction.”

From: Eleven Minutes

7. Every experience, either good or bad, comes with a lesson.

“There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.”

From: The Fifth Mountain

8. Do not seek for love outside of you.

“Love is not to be found in someone else but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that, we need the other person.”

From: Eleven Minutes

9. When you change, the whole world changes with you.

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

From: The Alchemist

10. No reason is needed for loving.

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”

From: The Alchemist

11. Mind your own business.

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

From: The Alchemist

12. When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive.

“No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.”

From: Eleven Minutes

13. Love is an untamed force.

“When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.”

14. Wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.”

From: The Alchemist

15. Judge not.

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”

16. Children have valuable lessons to teach you.

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”

From: The Fifth Mountain

17. Appreciate the contrast of life.

“’Never be ashamed,’ he said. ‘Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.’ ‘How will I know which is which?’ ‘By the taste. You can only know a good wine if you have first tasted a bad one.’”

From: Brida

18. Nobody’s responsible for how you feel or don’t feel.

“In love, no one can harm anyone else; we are each responsible for our own feelings and cannot blame someone else for what we feel.”

From: The Alchemist

19. Your beliefs shape you and make you who you are.

“You are what you believe yourself to be.”

From: The Witch of Portobello

20. Let go of the need to explain yourself.

“Don’t explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you.”

21. Love changes everything.

“It is not time that changes man nor knowledge; the only thing that can change someone’s mind is love.”

From: Eleven Minutes

22. Don’t mistake elegance with superficiality.

“Elegance is usually confused with superficiality, fashion, lack of depth. This is a serious mistake: human beings need to have elegance in their actions and in their posture because this word is synonymous with good taste, amiability, equilibrium and harmony.”

23. When you do work from your soul, the critics won’t hurt you.

“I write from my soul. This is the reason that critics don’t hurt me, because it is me. If it was not me, if I was pretending to be someone else, then this could unbalance my world, but I know who I am.”

24. Each day brings a miracle of its own.

“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.”

25. Embrace your authenticity.

“You are someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that in my view is a serious illness. God chose you to be different. Why are you disappointing God with this kind of attitude?”

From: Veronika Decides to Die

 

“If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule – Never lie to yourself.”

HAPPY 2021 !

10 Powerful Life Lessons from The Alchemist

by The Utopian Life

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of the best-selling books in history, with over 65 million copies in 56 different languages. The story of Santiago, the shepherd boy on a journey to realize his “Personal Legend” has inspired people all over the world to live their dreams.

Here are ten of the most popular passages and lessons to apply to your life:

1. Fear is a bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself.

Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.

Any new pursuit requires entering uncharted territory — that’s scary. But with any great risk comes great reward. The experiences you gain in pursuing your dream will make it all worthwhile.

2. What is “true” will always endure.

If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.

Truth cannot be veiled by smoke and mirrors — it will always stand firm. When you’re searching for the “right” decision, it will be the one that withstands the tests of time and the weight of scrutiny.

3. Break the monotony. 

When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.

Gratitude is the practice of finding the good in each day. Life can easily become stagnant, mundane, and monotonous, but that changes depending on what we choose to see. There’s always a silver lining, if you look for it.

4. Embrace the present.

Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.

There’s no point dwelling in the past and letting it define you, nor getting lost and anxious about the future. But in the present moment, you’re in the field of possibility — how you engage with the present moment will direct your life.

5. Your success has a ripple-effect.

That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.

Growth, change, and evolution are weaved into the fabric of reality. Becoming a better version of yourself creates a ripple effect that benefits everything around you: your lifestyle, your family, your friends, your community.

6. Make the decision.

When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he has never dreamed of when he first made the decision.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the unknowns and finer details of your dreams. Actions will flow out of having confidence in your decision; sitting on the fence will get you nowhere.

7. Be unrealistic.

I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does.

Some of the greatest inventions would not have happened if people chose to accept the world as it is. Great achievements and innovations begin with a mindset that ignores the impossible.

8. Keep getting back up.

The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.

Because the eighth time could be your breakthrough. Some of the greatest novels in history were published after receiving hundreds of rejections. Thankfully, those authors never gave up.

9. Focus on your own journey.

If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.

It’s easy to be influenced by others, but you’ll be miserable if you end up living someone else’s life. There’s nothing wrong with taking advice and learning from others, but make sure it aligns with your desires and passions.

10. Always take action.

There is only one way to learn.
It’s through action.

You can study, read, and listen until you turn blue in the face, but the full experience is when you take action, and let the rubber meet the road. Once you’re done aiming, pull the trigger.

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2021

Why did I write The Archer?

(The Archer already in USA and in India  

You’re an archer yourself – what drew you to the sport? 

  • I thought it was very elegant when I was young. I said to myself, One day, I am going to do this. So I started living in the Pyrenees, where I had a small house, and I met someone by chance. This person started teaching me how to use the bow and arrows, and he taught me the basics of archery. It is going from an extreme tension to a total relaxation, in the very moment you open your hand. And it is indeed elegant, because you need the posture to shoot well. It is about learning how to focus and doing this kind of exercise not for the sake of doing exercise, but for the sake of doing something you want to do. And so I learned.

How did your experiences with archery inform your writing of this book?

  • It was, in a way, a breakdown of my experience in archery. And, of course, I had to have a guideline, a story. As you read, you learn everything I learned, everything I needed. Shooting arrows is not simply to hit a blank target, but really to try to see the world through the bow. The moment of total tension before you open your hand, the connection. Whether you reach the target or not is irrelevant. But what is relevant is to become the bow, the arrow, and the target its

Did a particular experience inspire you to write THE ARCHER?

  • One day I was sitting in my house in the Pyrenees and I thought how incredible it was, the archery, and I wanted to write a book about my experience. I wanted to write it at least for me to read, or to condense for myself. I tried to teach myself what I learned instinctively. Sometimes, when you learn, you have to sit down and understand what it was that you learned. In doing so, I wrote the book. It is in your hands now.

 How do you feel the Santiago de Compostela has influenced your books, and specifically, this one?

  • The Santiago de Compostela [pilgrimage] is this: you know your target, and you go towards there. It influenced me a lot in the sense that I knew I had to focus on one point and move ahead.

THE ARCHER provides simple guidelines for a life well lived. Do you think a fable or allegory is the most effective mode for teaching what you’ve learned about life’s essential truths?

  • It is a short book, you don’t need to complicate things.*Laughs* In fact, life is simple. We complicate a lot. And a fable or allegory talks to the hidden parts of ourselves. You learn the essence of life by paying attention to the simple things that surround you. This is basically the idea of THE ARCHER. I’m talking about everything from friendship and beyond: the importance of the bow, the importance of concentration. At the end of the day, it is life. You learn by living your life fully

Have you ever had a mentor like Tetsuya? If so, what teachings did you learn?

  • Not in the metaphorical sense that I use in my book. I had a mentor in the sense that I needed to learn the basics of how to shoot, how to avoid harming myself. I am very grateful to him because he was the one who taught me what I know. But at the end of the day, like I said, you learn by doing something. Something that you love. So really, you don’t need a mentor – you just need the steps. Once the steps are taken, you can move ahead, and you repeat and repeat until one day, it’s not that it becomes automatic, but somehow, your subconscious takes over yourself and go on

Do you try to follow Tetsuya’s example when you mentor younger writers?

  • I don’t mentor younger writers. Who am I to mentor anyone about anything? Of course, I get invitations for Master Classes, but I never accept because I have nothing to teach. I think writing is an experience in and of itself.

Can you tell us about the spiritual and religious influences on your writing?  How do you feel about THE ALCHEMIST being used by many readers as a spiritual guide, and do you see readers turning to THE ARCHER in the same way?

  • Of course, I hope that in the steps of THE ARCHER, people will see the same journey that exists in THE ALCHEMIST. Of course, they are different. THE ALCHEMIST is a travelling book and, though THE ARCHER is too, I hope people use THE ARCHER to help them learn the basics of life. I really do hope this.

What do you hope readers will get out of THE ARCHER?

  • It is impossible to tell what he or she hopes, because all readers experience the book in different ways. I get a lot of letters about my books, and sometimes, they see things that I didn’t see, and tell me about them. I am very glad to read these, because I learn from them. I learn with them, about myself.

 

 

Paulo Coelho yang Dapat Picu Semangat

Paulo Coelho

“Aku mencintaimu karena segenap alam semesta bersatu membantuku menemukanmu” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Hanya ada satu hal yang membuat mimpi tak mungkin diraih: perasaan takut gagal” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Lupakanlah masa depan, dan jalanilah setiap hari sesuai ajaran. Percayalah bahwa Tuhan mencintai hamba-hambaNya. Tiap-tiap hari pada dirinya membawa keabadian” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Dan pada saat engkau mengiginkan sesuatu, seluruh jagat raya bersatu padu untuk membantumu meraihnya” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Kau harus belajar menanggung beberapa penderitaan dan kesedihan, sebab penderitaan dan kesedihan akan menjadikanmu orang yang lebih baik” – Novel Seperti Sungai yang mengalir

“Kalau kita berusaha menjadi lebih baik, segala sesuatu di sekitar kita akan ikut menjadi lebih baik” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Tuhan telah memberiku alasan untuk hidup, bekerja, dan berjuang di lembah air mata ini” – Novel Sang Penyihir dari Portobello

“Yang membuat hidup ini menarik adalah kemungkinan untuk mewujudkan impian menjadi kenyataan” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Katakan pada hatimu, rasa takut akan penderitaan justru lebih menyiksa daripada penderitaan itu sendiri. Dan tak ada hati yang menderita saat mengejar impian-impiannya, sebab setiap detik pencarian itu bisa diibaratkan pertemuan dengan Tuhan dan Keabadian” – Novel Sang Alkemis

 

 
 
 

“Rasa takut akan penderitaan justru lebih menyiksa daripada penderitaan itu sendiri” – Novel Sang Alkemis

“Menumpuk cinta membawa keberuntungan, menumpuk kebencian membawa bencana. Setiap orang yang gagal mengenali masalah sama saja membiarkan pintu terbuka bagi masuknya tragedi.”-Kitab Suci Ksatria Cahaya.**

As much as it can be impulsive to worry about the future

 
 
 

Paul

Paulo Coelho. Credit: Das Blaue Sofa / Club Bertelsmann. (Flickr/creative commons)

Before I came across Paulo Coelho’s works, I assumed reading novels was a waste of time.

And as the biased human that I am, I look for evidence to support my naive assumptions. “My grades are heading rapidly down the pit.” “I don’t have enough money to buy the things I want.” “There’s a high rate of unemployment, how am I going to get a good enough job?” These are real problems, and the last thing I need to waste my time on is a figment of someone’s imagination. Or so I thought.

But as anyone who understands and loves to read great novels can tell, these are all flimsy excuses. In fact, the remarkableness of novels is in the ability of the writers to use their own experiences; moments of pain, joy, regret, ecstasy, to create a world in which we all can relate.

They bring all of us into their story, so we can see that, though we are all different physically, our wants, fears, struggles are similar. We read our stories even as we read theirs. The clarity and instructive nature of Coelho’s writings have made him win his place as one of the best novelists. I’ve learned a great deal from him, both from his personal life and his books, as both are usually intertwined. Here are five remarkable lessons I’ve learned from Paulo Coelho.

Success Is Less Attractive When You See How It’s Made

“‘So you’re going to give me electric shock treatment,’ I said to Dr. Benjamin Gasper Gomes…The next moment a curtain seemed to fall over my eyes; my vision quickly narrowed to a single point, and then everything went dark.”

This is an excerpt from Coelho’s diary which he wrote during his second stay in a mental hospital in 1966. As he revealed on the inspiration behind his book, Veronika Decides to Die, by the time he was 16, he had already been committed to a mental institution twice. Why? He just wanted to be a writer.

Apparently, in Brazil at that time, the word “Artist” was synonymous with homosexual, drug addict, communist, and layabout. It wasn’t cool. So when his parent’s attempt to suppress his devotion to literature failed, they took his rebelliousness as a sign of mental illness.

Coelho’s time in the mental institution was one of his worst points, but there were others. Before going on a pilgrimage to Santiago, he also went into the “hippie life,” doing drugs and living aimlessly. He was jailed three times for his political activism and subjected to torture in prison. The story about his early days wasn’t pretty.

Interviews are great to watch. Fame is very attractive. These things stimulate us to want to succeed. But the mere fact that only a few still succeed shows how we don’t realize success isn’t as attractive as it appears after it’s achieved. When we imagine being a bestseller, we don’t imagine being treated with an electric shock or being jailed three times. We see a fancy office and the signing of autographs.

This realization, no doubt, might strip away some of the mystique of the things you already love. But maybe if we focused more on what the “behind the scenes” looks like, we’ll have more patience, hope, tenacity, and the path to success will be more accessible.

Don’t Worry About How Your Dreams Will Come True

A major concept in Coelho’s novels is how his characters (like Santiago in The Alchemist and Maria in Eleven Minutes) have a strong sense of what they want but yet have no idea how they would get it.

The same can be said for Coelho, wanting to be a writer but having no idea what to write about. It’s a common theme in the life of everyone. We all feel we need to do something, make a contribution in some way, but often, we either don’t know which step to take or are too apprehensive about what the future holds.

What we should do (what Coelho tries to demonstrate with his characters) is to pay attention and take whatever step appears to be right today. As Arthur Schopenhauer said,

“Our life is like a journey on which, as we advance, the landscape takes a different view from that which is presented at first, and changes again, as we come nearer.”

There’s no way we can really comprehend what the future holds, or how much change we are going to undergo in the next few years or even weeks. Before Coelho went on his pilgrimage, he still was yet to decide what he wanted to write about. He just wrote lyrics for musicians. It was after his journey he wrote The Pilgrimage, building a unique style, using his own personal experiences to instruct through his characters.

As much as it can be impulsive to worry about the future, it’s only through paying attention that we can know the appropriate steps to take as our preferences and view of life changes.

The Process Itself Is the Reward

Though Santiago’s aim, in the novel The Alchemist, was to discover his treasure in the Egyptian pyramids, the real treasure was the process he had to go through first. In his quest to search for his treasure, he ended up working for a crystal merchant for years. He met an Englishman (who became his traveling companion), The Alchemist, and also fell in love with a woman to whom he proposed marriage.

Do not be in a hurry to get to the finish line. Do not let your need to quickly “make it big” make you miss the wonderful lessons and people that life will bring your way. When we become too fixated on only the end result, everything in between usually becomes drudgery; just a means to an end.

Therefore, cultivate your mind to see your daily rewards. Be grateful for that new connection. Be happy about the new lesson you learned from meeting one of your mentors. What about the person you’re becoming because of the struggles and challenges you’ve overcome so far? Let that mean something to you.

If Santiago never discovered his treasure, it probably wouldn’t have mattered that much to him. Why? The reward he got from the process, pales in comparison to whatever treasure that was in the Egyptian pyramids.

Follow Your Own Rhythm

In his collection of thoughts and experiences which he published in the book Like the Flowing River, Coelho tells of an experience he had with a pilgrim, Begoña. After giving a talk on The Road to Santiago, Begoña walked to him saying there was something he didn’t mention. Intrigued to know what this could be, Coelho invited her for a cup of coffee. She said,

At the start of my pilgrimage, I tried to keep up with my group, but I got tired. I was demanding too much of myself. I was tense all the time and ended up straining the tendons on my left foot. I couldn’t work for two days after that, and I realized that I would only reach Santiago if I obeyed my own rhythm.”

Sometimes we may want to go through life quickly, not because we are in a hurry, but because we want to impress. Even though we feel stressed and overworked and the tendons on our left foot are burning, we smile and keep up. The result? A high rate of stress and mental, emotional imbalance. As Goethe said,

“It is only men of practical ability, knowing their powers and using them with moderation and prudence, who will be successful in worldly affairs.”

Forget about keeping up and understand your own rhythm. Follow it and be content at your own pace. It took Begoña longer to reach Santiago. Sometimes she had to walk alone for long stretches. But it was only by respecting her own rhythm that she managed to complete her journey.

Accept That Those Who Can’t Hear Your Music Will See Your Dance as Insane

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be,” Coelho wrote, “the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about theirs.”

Indeed, Coelho’s life is a manifestation of this remark. Being completely misunderstood and thought to be insane by his parents who, assuming they knew what was best for him, were only bent on making him into what they wanted.

Anyone who is driven to achieve anything will face the risk of being misunderstood, or even worse, being seen as a threat. When Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, launched his first start-up Viaweb, many thought it a stupid idea because they didn’t fully understand how it worked. As he revealed in one of his 2008 essays, Six Principles for Making New Things,

When we launched Viaweb, it seemed laughable to VCs and e-commerce ‘experts’… Since Viaweb was the first web-based app they’d seen, it seemed to be nothing more than a website… It sounded serious and difficult.”

But yet, Viaweb ended up crushing all its competitors. “Any great idea,” Goethe said, “is a tyrant when it first appears.” But not just great ideas. People will always push against anything they don’t understand.

This, however, doesn’t mean you’ll have huge success whenever you go against what’s conventional. But it means you’ll learn a priceless skill of referring less to others when you want to decide what’s best for you. It means you’ll be decisive; you’ll own your decisions, making you learn from them even when things don’t work out.

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

Conclusion

All the lessons I’ve learned from Paulo Coelho couldn’t possibly be compressed into an article. But I hope these five will be helpful to you as you continue to live your own personal legend.

  • Success is less attractive when you see how it’s made.
  • Don’t worry about how your dreams will come true.
  • The process itself is the reward.
  • Follow your own rhythm.
  • Accept that those who can’t hear your music will see your dance as insane.

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Emotional independence

“At the beginning of our life and again when we get old, we need the help and affection of others. Unfortunately, between these two periods of our life, when we are strong and able to look after ourselves, we don’t appreciate the value of affection and compassion.  As our own life begins and ends with the need for affection, wouldn’t it be better if we gave compassion and love to others while we are strong and capable?”

The above words were said by the present Dalai Lama. Really, it is very curious to see that we are proud of our emotional independence.  Evidently, it is not quite like that: we continue needing others our entire life, but it is a “shame” to show that, so we prefer to cry in hiding. And when someone asks us for help, that person is considered weak and incapable of controlling his feelings.

 There is an unwritten rule saying that “the world is for the strong”, that “only the fittest survive.” If it were like that, human beings would never have existed, because they are part of a species that needs to be protected for a long period of time (specialists say that we are only capable of surviving on our own after nine years of age, whereas a giraffe takes only six to eight months, and a bee is already independent in less than five minutes).

We are in this world, I, for my part, continue – and will always continue – depending on others.  I depend on my wife, my friends and my publishers. I depend even on my enemies, who help me to be always trained in the use of the sword.

Clearly, there are moments when this fire blows in another direction, but I always ask myself: where are the others? Have I isolated myself too much? Like any healthy person, I also need solitude and moments of reflection.

But I cannot get addicted to that.

Emotional independence leads to absolutely nowhere – except to a would-be fortress, whose only and useless objective is to impress others.

Emotional dependence, in its turn, is like a bonfire that we light.

In the beginning, relationships are difficult. In the same way that fire is necessary to put up with the disagreeable smoke – which makes breathing hard, and causes tears to pour down one’s face. However, once the fire is alight, the smoke disappears and the flames light up everything around us – spreading warmth, calm, and possibly making an ember pop out to burn us, but that is what makes a relationship interesting, isn’t that true?

I began this column quoting a Nobel Peace Prize winner about the importance of human relationships. I am ending with Professor Albert Schweitzer, physician and missionary, who received the same Nobel prize in 1952.

“All of us know a disease in Central Africa called sleeping sickness. What we need to know is that there is a similar disease that attacks the soul – and which is very dangerous, because it catches us without being noticed. When you notice the slightest sign of indifference and lack of enthusiasm for your similar, be on the alert!”

“The only way to take precautions against this disease is to understand that the soul suffers, and suffers a lot, when we make it live superficially. The soul likes things that are beautiful and profound”.

Meditation: warrior of the light