Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

Like the Flowing River – Jornal Região São Jose do Rio Preto 2009

Date: 1 April 2009


Because of Manuel Bandeira’s poetry that precisely describes my intention with this collection of articles:

“Being like a river that flows Silent in the middle of the night

Do not fear the darkness of the night

If there are stars in the sky, reflect them.

And if the sky is filled with clouds 

Like the river, clouds are water; 

Reflect them also without sorrow 

In the calm depths.”

They are mainly reports of lived experiences or stories of people I met between 1998 and 2005.

I find it difficult for a writer to be able to tell what his differential is because writing for me is a necessity.

But I found its definition of reality interesting – as something that goes beyond the material world and takes into account other factors such as emotion and faith. In that sense I would say yes: I am a realist.

I don’t see reality in those terms – angels and demons. I see reality more as a constant struggle between the elements: the spring that fights the winter, the land that carves its space against the sea, the fire that feeds on the wood, the voice that imposes itself on the silence … I really like the definition of the world that is given in the Indian sacred book of Baghavad Gita: there are three manifestations, three worlds – light, fire and darkness. The reality is thus woven by these three components. Of purity, of struggle and of death.

On the contrary, every time I publish a book, I publish a new question. The story that exists is like the thread that guides me in this universe that escapes me and that I try to explore. I never come out of a story thinking that I got around an issue. There are always corners of reality that continue to intrigue me and that lead me from book to book.

Sure. Transformation is the very thing of existence. The illusion consists in thinking that things are stopped. There is a phrase in Visconti’s film – O Gatopardo – that is perfect: “we have to change to stay”.

To know that one is alive.

Perfection is not in our world. That’s why I think Templar architects were and will be the best. Their churches were always asymmetrical because they knew that trying to forge something perfect was an empty adventure. An empty space is always necessary, one less tower, one smaller window: so that the observer can imagine what is missing. It is the observer who forms the cornerstone in construction – it is what completes it. The living element, in its change, becomes the pillar of all construction.

A world organised to the extreme is a world much more fragile than you think. Ask any naturalist that the higher the level of organisation of an organism, the more vulnerable it becomes inside. This can also be said of our society – all this technological sophistication finally makes us more vulnerable to any lack of control (be it human – such as terrorist acts or the financial or ecological crisis).

Because this is a quest that promises eternal rest. In my eyes, she is thus the anteroom of death.

I am always asked the secret of my success – asking me to give best-seller formulas. But you will never ask me that question from this angle.

I still don’t know the secret but I imagine that it must be like a boat, which left the port of my soul and sailed in that ocean that is the faith of my readers.

I write because I need to write and when I see that it wakes up with the sensitivity of others I feel understood – because in the end, the main thing in this life is to be able to communicate and share our soul with others.

Because time doesn’t exist when important things happen.

The road to Santiago de Compostela in 1986 was certainly the key moment. Until then, I wanted to be a writer but I couldn’t write. After this rite of passage I finally managed to become one. On the way I learned things I already knew, namely:

– Travel light, without complicating things too much and thus achieve my goal

– Realise that all the teachings in the world are close. The important thing is to pay attention to the path and the other pilgrims.

My failures. My doubts. My fears. Precisely everything that many dismiss as superfluous, or undesirable, fed me to get where I am. That – and faith.

Religions are like doors that lead to the same place. Like the rays of the same sun. None is superior to another – they are simply different ways to reach the same goal – communion with God.

I am a Catholic because that is part of my tradition but I do not consider being closer to God because of it. God is in everything – even the tiniest grain of sand, as the English poet William Blake says.

Affective relationships are the sustenance of human life – without them

we are nothing. Look at the current financial crisis – when all materialistic illusions are finally coming to an end, what re-appears? The true value – the value of people.

It is impossible to give an answer to this question – my books are like my children, impossible to choose one. Each book is a portrait of another self, of a person I was and who at a specific moment felt the need to know more.


Language: Portuguese Publication Date: 2009

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