Saturday, May 14, 2011

Paulo Coelho, "Walking the Path"

"Walking the Path"
by Paulo Coelho

"I reckon that it takes about three minutes to read my text. Well, according to statistics, in that same short period of time 300 people will die and another 620 will be born. It takes me perhaps half an hour to write a text: here I sit, concentrating on my computer, books piled up beside me, ideas in my head, the scenery passing by outside my window. Everything seems perfectly normal all around me; and yet, during these thirty minutes, 3,000 people have died and 6,200 have just seen the light of the world for the first time.

Where are all those thousands of families who have just begun to weep over the loss of some dear one, or else laugh at the arrival of a son, grandson or brother? I stop and reflect for a while: perhaps many of these deaths are reaching the end of a long, painful sickness, and some persons are relieved that the Angel has come for them. Besides these, in all certainty hundreds of children who have just been born will be abandoned in a minute and transferred to the death statistics before I finish this text.

What a thought! A simple statistic that I came upon by chance – and all of a sudden I can feel all those losses and encounters, smiles and tears. How many are leaving this life, alone in their rooms, without anyone realizing what is going on? How many will be born in secret, only to be abandoned at the door of shelters or convents? And then I reflect that I was part of the birth statistics and one day I will be included in the toll of the dead. How good that is to be fully aware that I am going to die. Ever since I took the road to Santiago I have understood that although life goes on and we are eternal, one day this existence will come to an end.

People think very little about death. They spend their lives worried about really absurd things, putting things off and leaving important moments aside. They risk nothing because they believe that is dangerous. They grumble a lot, but act like cowards when it is time to take certain steps. They want everything to change, but they themselves refuse to change. If they thought a little more about death, they would never fail to make that telephone call that they have been putting off. They would be a little more crazy. They would not be afraid of the end of this incarnation – because you cannot be afraid of something that is going to happen anyway.

The Indians say: “today is as good a day as any other to leave this world”. And a sorcerer once remarked: “may death be always sitting beside you. That way, when you have to do something important, it will give you the strength and courage you need.” I hope, reader, that you have accompanied me this far. It would be silly to let the subject scare you, because sooner or later we are all going to die. And only those who accept this are prepared for life."

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