Monday, 20 August 2018

2 x Paulo Coelho

Looking for summer reads from my TBR shelves, I find two books by one of my favourite authors, Paulo Coelho. It is By The River Pedra I Sat Down And Wept and Adultery. They both cover relationships and their ups and downs. The first one is about a young couple who grew up together and then were separated many years, since they chose different paths in life. The second is about a woman in a happy marriage, with two children and a good economy.

By The River Pedra I Sat Down And Wept she is a young woman who has learned to look at life in a rational way, studying for a profession; he is a man who follows his religious calling, travelling around the world. Eleven years after they last met in the village where they grew up, they meet again. This time he is holding a lecture on his calling, on life and how we should approach it. She travelled to Madrid just for the day to hear and meet him. Like all the rest of the audience, she is mesmerised by him and his talk. Instead of going back she follows him on his tour in the northwestern part of Spain.

Coelho always surrounds his stories with philosophical thoughts and various aspects of life. Both of them have to reconsider their lives if they want to be with each other. It is probably more difficult for him, being a religious person and, as it seems, having saintly gifts. She has less to loose, but does not want him to give up his gift for her. Through their one week travel they reflect on they way their relationship has developed and they have to make a decision for the future.
"I imagine that some people spend years allowing the pressure to build up inside them without even noticing, and then one day some tiny incident triggers a crisis.Then they say: "I've had enough, I don't want this anymore."Some commit suicide. Others get divorced. Some go to poor parts of Africa to try to save the world.But I know myself. I know that my only reaction will be to repress my feelings until a cancer starts eating me up inside. Because I do actually believe that many illnesses are the result of repressed emotions." (Adultery)
In Adultery I find that Coelho has slightly ventured off his ordinary route. This is a more down to earth story, without the more magical moments that usually appear in this book. Linda has everything but is still unhappy. Well, maybe not really unhappy, but she feels that something is lacking in her life. It covers a big problem in the world today, when a lot of people, in principal, have everything they need, but are stuck in a world of routine. Coelho is spot on in describing the good life which still does not make us happy.

"This morning, when I was drinking a cup of coffee, I looked at the gentle light outside and remembered that walk, asking myself for the last time: Am I trying to create a real problem to drive away my imaginary ones? Am I really in love or have I simply transformed all the last month's unpleasant feelings into a fantasy?"
He asks the big questions of what we want with our lives. How should we be? We should obviously be ourselves, but how often are we not acting in the way we think is expected or wanted by us?
""We aren't who we want to be. We are what society demands. We are what our parents choose. We don't want to disappoint anyone; we have a great need to be loved. So we smother the best in us. Gradually, the lift of our dreams turns into the monster of our nightmares. They become things not done, possibilities not lived.""
Coelho never disappoints you and you really have to consider what he is saying. At the same time it gives you an input into your own life and how we live it. The first book concentrates of the meaning of life in a more abstract and, maybe, magical way. The second book is more hands on, but does not lack thoughts on how we live our lives and the problems we are facing today.

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