My top 9 travel tips

I realised very early on that, for me, travelling was the best way of learning. I still have a pilgrim soul, and I thought that I would use this blog to pass on some of the lessons I have learned, in the hope that they might prove useful to other pilgrims like me.

1. Avoid museums. This might seem to be absurd advice, but let’s just think about it a little: if you are in a foreign city, isn’t it far more interesting to go in search of the present than of the past? It’s just that people feel obliged to go to museums because they learned as children that travelling was about seeking out that kind of culture. Obviously museums are important, but they require time and objectivity – you need to know what you want to see there, otherwise you will leave with a sense of having seen a few really fundamental things, except that you can’t remember what they were.

2. Hang out in bars. Bars are the places where life in the city reveals itself, not in museums. By bars I don’t mean nightclubs, but the places where ordinary people go, have a drink, ponder the weather, and are always ready for a chat. Buy a newspaper and enjoy the ebb and flow of people. If someone strikes up a conversation, however silly, join in: you cannot judge the beauty of a particular path just by looking at the gate.

3. Be open. The best tour guide is someone who lives in the place, knows everything about it, is proud of his or her city, but does not work for any agency. Go out into the street, choose the person you want to talk to, and ask them something (Where is the cathedral? Where is the post office?). If nothing comes of it, try someone else – I guarantee that at the end of the day you will have found yourself an excellent companion.

4. Try to travel alone or – if you are married – with your spouse. It will be harder work, no one will be there taking care of you, but only in this way can you truly leave your own country behind. Traveling with a group is a way of being in a foreign country while speaking your mother tongue, doing whatever the leader of the flock tells you to do, and taking more interest in group gossip than in the place you are visiting.

5. Don’t compare. Don’t compare anything – prices, standards of hygiene, quality of life, means of transport, nothing! You are not traveling in order to prove that you have a better life than other people – your aim is to find out how other people live, what they can teach you, how they deal with reality and with the extraordinary.

6. Understand that everyone understands you. Even if you don’t speak the language, don’t be afraid: I’ve been in lots of places where I could not communicate with words at all, and I always found support, guidance, useful advice, and even girlfriends. Some people think that if they travel alone, they will set off down the street and be lost for ever. Just make sure you have the hotel card in your pocket and – if the worst comes to the worst – flag down a taxi and show the card to the driver.

7. Don’t buy too much. Spend your money on things you won’t need to carry: tickets to a good play, restaurants, trips. Nowadays, with the global economy and the Internet, you can buy anything you want without having to pay excess baggage.

8. Don’t try to see the world in a month. It is far better to stay in a city for four or five days than to visit five cities in a week. A city is like a capricious woman: she takes time to be seduced and to reveal herself completely.

9. A journey is an adventure. Henry Miller used to say that it is far more important to discover a church that no one else has ever heard of than to go to Rome and feel obliged to visit the Sistine Chapel with two hundred thousand other tourists bellowing in your ear. By all means go to the Sistine Chapel, but wander the streets too, explore alleyways, experience the freedom of looking for something – quite what you don’t know – but which, if you find it, will – you can be sure – change your life.

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1 MIN READ: Do you feel useless?

The younger people realise that the world is full of huge problems, which they dream of solving, but no one is interested in their views.
‘You don’t know what the world is really like,’ they are told. ‘Listen to your elders and then you’ll have a better idea of what to do.’

The older people have gained in experience and maturity, they have learned about life’s difficulties the hard way, but when the moment comes for them to teach these things, no one is interested.
‘The world has changed,’ they are told. ‘You have to keep up to date and listen to the young.’

That feeling of uselessness is no respecter of age and never asks permission, but corrodes people’s souls, repeating over and over:
‘No one is interested in you, you’re nothing, the world doesn’t need your presence.’

Walk neither faster nor slower than your own soul.
Because it is your soul that will teach you the usefulness of each step you take.
Sometimes taking part in a great battle will be the thing that will help to change the course of history. But sometimes you can do that simply by smiling, for no reason, at someone you happen to pass in the street.
Without intending to, you might have saved the life of a complete stranger, who also thought he was useless and might have been ready to kill himself, until a smile gave him new hope and confidence.

taken from MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN ACCRA

2 min read: meeting Henry Miller’s widow

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The Japanese journalist asks the usual question: “And what are your favorite writers?” I give my usual answer: “Jorge Amado, Jorge Luis Borges, William Blake and Henry Miller.”

The translator looks at me astonished: “Henry Miller?” But she soon realizes her role isn’t to digress and gets back to her work. At the end of the interview, I want to know why she was so surprised about my answer.

“I am not criticizing Henry Miller; I’m his fan too,” she answers. “Did you know he was married to a Japanese woman?”
Yes: I’m not ashamed to be fanatic about someone I admire and try to know everything about their life.

I went to a book fair just to get to know Jorge Amado, I travelled 48 hours in a bus to meet with Borges ( this ended up not happening due to my own fault: when I saw him I froze and said nothing), I rang the bell of John Lennon’s door in New York (the porter asked me to leave a letter explaining the reason of my visit and said Lennon would probably call, this never happened). I had plans of going to see Henry Miller in Big Sur, but he died before I was able to gather the money for the trip.

“The Japanese woman’s name is Hoki,” I answer proudly. “I know too that in Tokyo there is a museum devoted to Miller’s watercolors.”
“Would you like to meet her tonight?”
But what a question! Of course, I would like to be near someone that lived with one of my idols.
I imagine she must receive visitors from all over the world and several interview requests; after all, they stayed together for almost 10 years.

We stop at a street where the sun probably never shines, as a viaduct passes over it. The translator points to a second-rate bar on the second floor of an old building.

We go up the stairs, we enter the completely empty bar and there is Hoki Miller. In order to conceal my surprise, I try to exaggerate my enthusiasm about her ex-husband.
She takes me to a room in the back where she set up a small museum – a few pictures, two or three signed watercolors, a signed book and nothing else.

She tells me that she met him when she took a masters degree in Los Angeles and played piano in a restaurant to support herself, singing French songs (in Japanese). Miller went there for dinner, loved the songs (he had spent a great part of his life in Paris), they went out a couple of times and he asked her to marry him.

She tells me delightful things about their life in common, about the problems originated by the age difference between them (Miller was over 50, Hoki wasn’t 20), of the time they spent together. She explains that the heirs from the other marriages got everything, inclusively the copyrights of the books – but that didn’t matter to her, what she lived with him lies beyond financial compensation.

I ask her to play that music that caught Miller’s attention many years back. She does it with tears in her eyes and sings ‘Autumn Leaves’ (Feuilles Mortes).

The bar, the piano, the voice of the Japanese woman echoing in the empty walls, not caring about the ex-wives’ victories, about the rivers of money Miller’s books shall make, about the world fame she could enjoy today.

“It wasn’t worth it to fight for inheritance: his love was enough to me,” she says at the end, understanding what we felt.
Yes, for the complete absence of bitterness or rancor in her voice, I understand that love was enough.

You, who they call Lord

EM PORTUGUES AQUI: Você, que eles chamam Senhor
EN ESPANOL AQUI : Tú, a quien ellos llaman Señor

by Abbot Burkhard

You, who I can feel deep inside my soul.
You, who has created this world.

When I look into the microcosmos, in the macrocosmos, everywhere I find you.
I sense your greatness.

You, who they call Lord,
who they call Father,
who they call Allah,
who they call Jahwe,
You, who is there.

Who is with us. Who walks with us.
The older I become, the more I can call you friend.
You are the friend of my life, who loves me and who called me to carry your message to the people.
Thank you.

I want to ask for everyone who is here today, to feel some of God’s Greatness and His love, who wants us, who loves us.
Jesus Christ showed us a way which we can walk together.
In spite of everything and everyone, we can find ways together,
seek and find ways which will gift us with a better and more beautiful life.

Paulo has written that he is searching for the sense in his life.
And while searching he went across new paths, wrong tracks and detours, like the all of us.

Let’s keep on looking for you in the humans beings that are present in our path.

Amen

_____________________________
Istanbul, Turkey, on March 19, 2011. You can see the video of Abbot Burkhard praying in German in 6:09 min of our collective prayer

(translated by Nayla )

The Alchemist, by Paree

Andy Warhol

 

“Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches. During the 1960s, I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don’t think they’ve ever remembered.

Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves? I’m afraid that if you look at a thing long enough, it loses all of its meaning.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. Since people are going to be living longer and getting older, they’ll just have to learn how to be babies longer.

I suppose I have a really loose interpretation of “work,” because I think that just being alive is so much work at something you don’t always want to do. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep.

Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting.

The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.

I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs.

Sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets.

In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”

BY ANDY WARHOL

Andrew Warhola (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987), known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. The author of this blog considers him to be the MOST important visual artist of his generation

30 SEC READ The vase and the rose

The Grand Master gathered together all the disciples in order to decide who would have the honour of working at his side.

‘I am going to set you a problem,’ said the Grand Master. ‘And the first one to solve that problem will be the new Guardian of the temple.’
Once this briefest of speeches was over, he placed a small stool in the middle of the room. On it stood a priceless porcelain vase containing a red rose.
‘There is the problem,’ said the Grand Master.

After a few moments, one of the disciples got to his feet and looked at the master and at his fellow students, . then he walked  over to the vase and threw it to the ground, shattering it.

‘You are the new Guardian,’ the Grand Master said to the student.

‘I made myself perfectly clear. I said that there was a problem to be solved. Now it does not matter how beautiful or fascinating a problem might be, it has to be eliminated.
A problem is a problem. It could be a very rare porcelain vase, a delightful love affair that no longer makes any sense, or a course of action that we should abandon, but which we insist on continuing because it brings us comfort.
There is only one way to deal with a problem: attack it head on. At such moments, one cannot feel pity, nor be diverted by the fascination inherent in any conflict.’

20 SEC READING: What is truth?

I read the following piece of news in the Spanish newspaper “La Vanguardia”.

“What is truth? The President of the Court, Josep Maria Pijuan, had to check which of the versions of rape offered by the girl victim, 11-year-old J., was closest to reality. The lawyers attending the questioning did not believe that she would manage to avoid contradicting herself in her deposition.

“At a certain moment the judge asked a rather philosophical question: What is truth? Is it what you imagine or what they asked you to tell?”

The girl stopped for a minute, then she answered:

“Truth is the bad they did to me.”

“Lawyer Jufresa, a renowned and prestigious jurist, said that was one of the most brilliant definitions she had heard in her whole career.”

The mechanism of terror

An old legend tells of how a certain city in the Pyrenees mountains used to be a stronghold for drug-traffickers, smugglers and exiles. The worst of them all, called Ahab, was converted by a local monk, Savin, and decided that things could not continue like that.

Knowing the nature of men as well as he did, they would only take honesty for weakness and soon his power would be put in doubt.

So what he did was call some carpenters from a neighboring town, hand them a drawing and tell them to build something on the spot where now stands the cross that dominates the town. Day and night for ten days, the inhabitants of the town heard the noise of hammers and watched men sawing bits of wood, making joints and hammering in nails.

At the end of ten days the gigantic puzzle was erected in the middle of the square, covered with a cloth. Ahab called all the inhabitants together to attend the inauguration of the monument.

Solemnly, and without making any speech, he removed the cloth.

It was a gallows. With a rope, trapdoor and all the rest. Brand-new, covered with bee’s wax to endure all sorts of weather for a long time.

At the end of the meeting, several groups formed, and most of them felt that Ahab had been deceived by the saint, since he lacked the courage he used to have. So he would have to be killed. For the next few days many plans were made to this end. But they were all forced to contemplate the gallows in the middle of the square, and wondered: What is that thing doing there? Was it built to kill those who did not accept the new laws? Who is on Ahab’s side, and who isn’t? Are there spies among us?

The gallows looked down on the men, and the men looked up at the gallows. Little by little the rebels’ initial courage was replaced by fear; they all knew Ahab’s reputation, they all knew he was implacable in his decisions. Some people abandoned the city, others decided to try the new jobs offered them, simply because they had nowhere to go or else because of the shadow of that instrument of death in the middle of the square. One year later the place was at peace, it had grown into a great business center on the frontier and began to export the best wool and produce top-quality wheat.

The gallows stayed there for ten years. The wood resisted well, but now and again the rope was changed for another. It was never put to use. Ahab never said a single word about it. Its image was enough to change courage to fear, trust to suspicion, stories of bravado to whispers of acceptance.



in “The Devil and Miss Prym”

The Magic Mountain

I think that one of the most beautiful regions in the world is Languedoc, a part of the Pyrenees in southwest France. I have been there several times and its valleys, mountains, vegetation and rivers always impress me. However, as human beings are quite unpredictable, it was precisely in this magnificent place that the first great European “heresy” arose, Catharism.

Many books have been written on the subject, yet it is possible to summarize the Cathar philosophy in one simple phrase; the Universe was created by the devil, all this apparent beauty is a diabolic work.

According to the encyclopedia, they were dualists who believed in the existence of two gods, one of good (God) and one of evil (Satan), who created the material world. Because of this, they took a vow of chastity and had no intention of procreating and presenting the devil with more followers. They called themselves “perfect” and were disposed to martyrdom to prove the importance of their belief. The symbolic end of the movement, which triggered off the first crusades recorded in history, took place on March 15, 1244 in the fortress of Montségur. After a long siege when they were offered the choice of converting to Catholicism or else die, approximately 250 “perfect” men, women and children climbed down the mountain singing of their intent to throw themselves into the flames of the bonfire specially made for the occasion.

For a long time I was interested in Catharism. In 1989 I met Brida O’Fern (who later on became a character in a book of mine), who had been a Cathar in an earlier incarnation. At the beginning of that same year I had met Mí´nica Antunes, who at that time was just my friend, now my friend and agent.

Since for spiritual reasons I needed to go on the Cathar walk (a trail linking together the castles/fortresses of the “perfect ones”) I invited her to take part in a stretch of the walk.

Mí´nica and I reached the foot of the Montségur Mountain one August afternoon. We had planned to climb it the following day, and after dinner we went to chat in the place where the bonfire had been lit almost 800 years before (an insignificant monument marks the spot). The weather was overcast, with clouds so low that we could not even see the ruins at the top of the gigantic rock. Just to provoke Mí´nica, I said that it might be interesting to make the climb that very night. She said no, and I was relieved, imagine if she had said yes!

At that moment a car drove up, the same make and color as mine. An Irishman stepped out and asked, as if we were from the region, from what point the rock could be climbed. I suggested that he make the climb the next morning with us, but he was determined to go up that very night, he wanted to see the sun rise from up there, claiming that perhaps he had been a Cathar in a past life.

“I wonder if you could lend me a lamp?” he asked.

And everything seems to fit; Brida, the obligation of going on the Cathar walk, the joke with Mí´nica a few minutes before, and now this fellow, with a car just like mine. It is a sign. I go to the hotel in the village where we are staying and borrow a lamp, the only one they have.

Mí´nica seems scared, but I say that we have to go ahead. Signs are signs, I say. The newcomer asks where the path is. I told him it did not matter and to just start going up the path.

And for some time, (I cannot remember how long) the three of us climbed a mountain that we did not know at night and with the fog that only allowed us to see a few yards ahead of us. Finally, we penetrated the clouds, the sky filled with stars, the moon was full, and standing before us was the gate of the fortress of Montségur.

We entered and contemplated the ruins. I looked at the beauty of the firmament, wondering how we got there without any accident, and then I think it is better not to ask any questions and just admire the miracle. The Cathars contemplated this very same sky, and believed that all these stars were the work of the devil. I shall never understand the Cathars, although I do respect the integrity with which they dedicated themselves to their faith.

I have returned to Montségur and climbed the mountain several other times, but have never again managed to find the path that we used that August night in 1989.

Mysteries exist.

Temos muito para agradecer a Bolsonaro

Temos muito para agradecer a Bolsonaro.

Bastaram 5 meses de um governo atípico, “sem jeito” com o congresso e de comunicação amadora para nos mostrar que o Brasil nunca foi, e talvez nunca será, governado de acordo com o interesse dos eleitores. Sejam eles de esquerda ou de direita.

Desde a tal compra de votos para a reeleição, os conchavos para a privatização, o mensalão, o petrolão e o tal “presidencialismo de coalizão”, o Brasil é governado exclusivamente para atender aos interesses de corporações com acesso privilegiado ao orçamento público.

Não só políticos, mas servidores-sindicalistas, sindicalistas de toga e grupos empresariais bem posicionados nas teias de poder. Os verdadeiros donos do orçamento. As lagostas do STF e os espumantes com quatro prêmios internacionais são só a face gourmet do nosso absolutismo orçamentário.

Todos nós sabíamos disso, mas queríamos acreditar que era só um efeito de determinado governo corrupto ou cooptado. Na próxima eleição, tudo poderia mudar. Infelizmente não era isso, não era pontual. Bolsonaro provou que o Brasil, fora desses conchavos, é ingovernável.

Descobrimos que não existe nenhum compromisso de campanha que pode ser cumprido sem que as corporações deem suas bênçãos. Sempre a contragosto.

Nem uma simples redução do número de ministérios pode ser feita. Corremos o risco de uma MP caducar e o Brasil ser OBRIGADO a ter 29 ministérios e voltar para a estrutura do Temer.

Isso é do interesse de quem? Qual é o propósito de o congresso ter que aprovar a estrutura do executivo, que é exclusivamente do interesse operacional deste último, além de ser promessa de campanha?

Querem, na verdade, é manter nichos de controle sobre o orçamento para indicar os ministros que vão permitir sangrar estes recursos para objetivos não republicanos. Historinha com mais de 500 anos por aqui.

Que poder, de fato, tem o presidente do Brasil? Até o momento, como todas as suas ações foram ou serão questionadas no congresso e na justiça, apostaria que o presidente não serve para NADA, exceto para organizar o governo no interesse das corporações. Fora isso, não governa.

Se não negocia com o congresso, é amador e não sabe fazer política. Se negocia, sucumbiu à velha política. O que resta, se 100% dos caminhos estão errados na visão dos “ana(lfabe)listas políticos”?

A continuar tudo como está, as corporações vão comandar o governo Bolsonaro na marra e aprovar o mínimo para que o Brasil não quebre, apenas para continuarem mantendo seus privilégios.

O moribundo-Brasil será mantido vivo por aparelhos para que os privilegiados continuem mamando. É fato inegável. Está assim há 519 anos, morto, mas procriando. Foi assim, provavelmente continuará assim.

Antes de Bolsonaro vivíamos em um cativeiro, sequestrados pelas corporações, mas tínhamos a falsa impressão de que nossos representantes eleitos tinham efetivo poder de apresentar suas agendas.

Era falso, FHC foi reeleito prometendo segurar o dólar e soltou-o 2 meses depois, Lula foi eleito criticando a política de FHC e nomeou um presidente do Bank Boston, fez reforma da previdência e aumentou os juros, Dilma foi eleita criticando o neoliberalismo e indicou Joaquim Levy. Tudo para manter o cadáver procriando por múltiplos de 4 anos.

Agora, como a agenda de Bolsonaro não é do interesse de praticamente NENHUMA corporação (pelo jeito nem dos militares), o sequestro fica mais evidente e o cárcere começa a se mostrar sufocante.

Na hipótese mais provável, o governo será desidratado até morrer de inanição, com vitória para as corporações. Que sempre venceram. Daremos adeus Moro, Mansueto e Guedes. Estão atrapalhando as corporações, não terão lugar por muito tempo.

Na pior hipótese ficamos ingovernáveis e os agentes econômicos, internos e externos, desistem do Brasil. Teremos um orçamento destruído, aumentando o desemprego, a inflação e com calotes generalizados. Perfeitamente plausível. Claramente possível.

A hipótese nuclear é uma ruptura institucional irreversível, com desfecho imprevisível. É o Brasil sendo zerado, sem direito para ninguém e sem dinheiro para nada. Não se sabe como será reconstruído. Não é impossível, basta olhar para a Argentina e para a Venezuela. A economia destes países não é funcional. Podemos chegar lá, está longe de ser impossível.

Agradeçamos a Bolsonaro, pois em menos de 5 meses provou de forma inequívoca que o Brasil só é governável se atender o interesse das corporações. Nunca será governável para atender ao interesse dos eleitores. Quaisquer eleitores. Tenho certeza que esquerdistas não votaram em Dilma para Joaquim Levy ser indicado ministro. Foi o que aconteceu, pois precisavam manter o cadáver Brasil procriando. Sem controle do orçamento, as corporações morrem.

O Brasil está disfuncional. Como nunca antes. Bolsonaro não é culpado pela disfuncionalidade, pois não destruiu nada, aliás, até agora não fez nada de fato, não aprovou nada, só tentou e fracassou. Ele é só um óculos com grau certo, para vermos que o rei sempre esteve nu, e é horroroso.

Infelizmente o diagnóstico racional é claro: “Sell”.

20 sec reading: The Drunkard Disciple

A Zen master had hundreds of disciples. They all prayed at the right time, except one, who was always drunk.

The master was growing old. Some of the more virtuous pupils began to wonder who would be the new leader of the group, the one who would receive the important secrets of the Tradition.

On the eve of his death, however, the master called the drunkard disciple and revealed the hidden secrets to him.

A veritable revolt broke out among the others.

“How shameful!” they cried in the streets, “We have sacrificed ourselves for the wrong master, one who can’t see our qualities.”

Hearing the commotion outside, the dying master remarked, “I had to pass on these secrets to a man that I knew well. All my pupils are very virtuous, and showed only their qualities. That is dangerous, for virtue often serves to hide vanity, pride and intolerance. That is why I chose the only disciple whom I know really well, since I can see his defect: drunkenness.”

Viva N. Sra. Fátima!

nossa-senhora-de-fatima

In the spring and summer of 1916, three children, Lucia Santos and her two cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, claimed to have experienced the visitation of an angel on three separate occasions. The angel appeared to them as they watched their sheep, taught them specific prayers to pray, to make sacrifices, and to spend time in adoration of the Lord.

On May 13, 1917, ten year old Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto were herding sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima, Portugal. Lúcia described seeing a woman “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun”. Astonished they ran back to their village and told everyone. Further appearances were reported to have taken place on the thirteenth day of the month in June and July. In these, the woman asked the children to do penance and Acts of Reparation as well as making personal sacrifices to save sinners. The children subsequently wore tight cords around their waists to cause themselves pain, performed self-flagellation using stinging nettles, abstained from drinking water on hot days, and performed other works of penance.[citation needed] According to Lúcia’s account, in the course of her appearances, the woman confided to the children three secrets, now known as the Three Secrets of Fátima.

Thousands of people flocked to Fátima and Aljustrel in the following months, drawn by reports of visions and miracles. On August 13, 1917, the provincial administrator Artur Santos (no relation to Lúcia Santos), believing that the events were politically disruptive, intercepted and jailed the children before they could reach the Cova da Iria that day. Prisoners held with them in the provincial jail later testified that the children, while upset, were first consoled by the inmates, and later led them in praying the rosary. The administrator interrogated the children and tried unsuccessfully to get them to divulge the contents of the secrets. In the process, he threatened the children, saying he would boil them in a pot of oil, one by one unless they confessed. The children refused, but Lúcia told him everything short of the secrets, and offered to ask the Lady for permission to tell the Administrator the secrets.That month, instead of the usual apparition in the Cova da Iria on the 13th, the children reported that they saw the Virgin Mary on 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption, at nearby Valinhos.

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1 MIN READ: the Lord was creating mothers

EM PORTUGUES AQUI> Personagem da semana: A mí£e
EN ESPANOL AQUI > Personaje de la semana: La madre

____________________________________________
by Erma Bombeck

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of “overtime” when an angel appeared and said:
“You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

* She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
* Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
* Run on black coffee and leftovers;
* Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
* A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
* And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded.
“One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’
“Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know.
“And of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick
“…can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger
“… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can she think?”

“Not only can she think, but she can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.
“There’s a leak,” she said. “I told You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

And the Mother was created – a work of genius.

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In Search of the Dream

Those who dare having a project in life, foregoing everything to live their Personal Legend, will end up achieving anything. The important thing is to keep the fire in your heart and be strong to overcome hard moments.

Remember, the desires that are in our souls do not come from the nothingness; someone put them there. And this someone, who is pure love and only wishes our happiness, only did it because he gave us, together with these desires, the tools to make them happen.

What’s the price?

“Is the price of living a dream much higher than the price of living without daring to dream?” asked the disciple.

The master took him to a clothes store. There, he asked him to try on a suit in exactly his size. The disciple obeyed, and was very amazed at the quality of the clothes.

Then the master asked him to try on the same suit – but this time a size much bigger than his own. The disciple did as he was asked.

“This one is no use. It’s too big.”

“How much are these suits?” the master asked the shop attendant.

“They both cost the same price. It’s just the size that is different.”

When leaving the store, the master told his disciple, “Living your dream or giving it up also costs the same price, which is usually very high. But the first lets us share the miracle of life, and the second is of no use to us.”

The Search of the Path

“I am willing to leave everything. Please, take me as a disciple.”

“How does a man choose his Path?”

“Through sacrifice. A path that demands sacrifice is a true path.”

The abbot bumped into a bookcase. A very rare vase fell down and the young man threw himself to the floor to pick it up. He fell the wrong way and broke his arm. But he was able to save the vase.

“Which sacrifice is greater, to see the vase breaking down our breaking an arm to save it?”

“I don’t know.”

“So then, do not try to guide your choice through sacrifice. The path is chosen by our capacity of compromising with each step we make while we walk.”

20 SEC READING: Praying for everyone

A farm labourer with a sick wife, asked a Buddhist monk to say a series of prayers. The priest began to pray, asking God to cure all those who were ill.

‘Just a moment,’ said the farm labourer. ‘I asked you to pray for my wife and there you are praying for everyone who’s ill.’

‘I’m praying for her too.’

‘Yes, but you’re praying for everyone. You might end up helping my neighbour, who’s also ill, and I don’t even like him.’

‘You understand nothing about healing,’ said the monk, moving off. ‘By praying for everyone, I am adding my prayers to those of the millions of people who are also praying for their sick.

‘Added together, those voices reach God and benefit everyone. Separately, they lose their strength and go nowhere.’

The two drops of oil

(Standing above the little town of Tarifa is an old fort built by the Moors. I remember sitting here with my wife, Christina, in 1982, and for the first time looking at a continent from across a narrow stretch of water: Africa. At that time I could not dream that such a lazy moment in the late afternoon would inspire a scene in my best-known book, “The Alchemist”. Nor could I have dreamed that the story that follows, heard in the car, would serve as an excellent example for all of us who are searching for some balance between discipline and compassion.)

A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.

However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.

The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.

With considerable patience, he listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.

He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.

“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handing the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”

The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.

“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.

“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.

Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.

“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages. “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”