Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"By The River Piedra I Sat Down And Wept…"

27th February, 2007

"those who love conquer the world
and have no fear of loss…"

A few months back, I chanced upon the first and most famous book of Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist. Once I’d finished reading it, I was so impressed that I resolved to read up all his books. One by one, I finished several titles by the author, and finally picked up the book "By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept".

As I immersed myself into the pages of the book, it seemed to me that this was the best book authored by Coelho. There couldn’t be a truer and more accurate statement than the one in the Author’s Note made by Coelho at the beginning of the book – "True love is an act of total surrender. This book is about the importance of that surrender. Pilar and her companion are fictitious, but they represent the many conflicts that beset us in our search for love. Sooner or later, we have to overcome our fears, because the spiritual path can only be traveled through the daily experience of love."

The book is about Pilar and her childhood sweetheart, and the slow but sure development of their adolescent fascination into a mature and spiritual relationship. To make this work out, Pilar has to take numerous risks that she’d never thought she would take, and though she finds it extremely difficult in the beginning to give up all her inhibitions, she finally succeeds in losing herself in the all-consuming fire of love.

Once I’d finished reading the book, I couldn’t resist the temptation to write about it – and the analogies that I drew from it to my own life…

The part that touched me the most was Pilar’s description of love somewhere in the initial parts of the book: "But love is much like a dam: if you allow a tiny crack to form through which only a trickle of water can pass, that trickle will quickly bring down the whole structure, and soon no one will be able to control the force of the current. When the walls come down, then love takes over, and it no longer matters what is possible or impossible; it doesn’t even matter whether we can keep the loved one at our side. To love is to lose control."

Yes, to love is truly to lose control over your senses and sensibilities… I’ve experienced unrestrained love once, and lost. As the popular saying goes, "once bitten, twice shy"! So losing control is something that I was not about to try again in a hurry – it is best avoided, I thought, for I was afraid of the risk of losing the one I love again, and so are thousands of others like me.

Not so long ago, the opportunity to lose control once again knocked at the doors of my life. But the guy in question was not from my city, had different ambitions and plans in life… there was just one thing in favour of accepting his proposal – that he loved me – and thousands against it. I found my mind telling my heart, "Don’t even think about it! You will just end up hurt, because this is never going to work out… and not only you, but he’ll also be scarred for life – and you have no right to spoil his life because of your rash decisions."

My heart agreed meekly, and convinced itself likewise. But did I for once stop and think why it is so impossible? Why can’t we make it work out? If two people are in love, they can overcome the world together, and we just had a few hurdles before us. But I couldn’t take "the risk" – what if it didn’t work out?? In fact, I even ignored the pain that I caused to the guy by rejecting him, and somehow managed to convince myself that what I was doing was in the best interests of both of us. Had I said yes, it would have meant taking too many risks, too many uncertainties and hurdles were to be smoothed out… In short, I was afraid to do anything that threatened to upturn my world… I was afraid of facing the unknown… I wanted a smooth sailing life, with little or no shocks in it…

God however has his ways of showing us how wrong we are – life is full of unexpected turn of events, and it is definitely not a bed of roses! Soon enough, He made something happen that sent my life completely into turmoil – something that I’d no control over, that I’d never contemplated, never expected in my wildest nightmares… but I had to, and did, cope with it, didn’t I?

Somewhere in the middle of the book, the author speaks thus through Pilar’s companion: "pitiful are those who are afraid to take risks…" and he’s so right! Just because we don’t have the guts to take the required risks, we miss out on the miracles of life! We plead all sorts of considerations (read, "lame excuses", if you can tackle the truth) – what with all the family responsibilities, social expectations, professional goals, etc before us, we deny ourselves the very things that make us happy! We don’t realize our true potential, we don’t give ourselves a chance to be content, we don’t learn to love and be loved without any expectations – in short, we fail to lose control…

If you have read till here, dear reader, then you might be wondering whether I gathered up enough inspiration from the book to take the risk, and allow myself to be loved… or to allow a crack in the dam of my heart to appear, so that love rushes forth and takes control of my life… Sorry to disappoint you, but no, I still don’t have the courage to do that. I’m still too bogged down by the traditional ways of life to be able to take such a big risk, but pray for me dear readers, pray that I gather up the courage soon – I know its too late this time, but my life isn't over yet... I might just get lucky again! Coelho’s right. Miracles do happen, but I’ve got to be courageous enough to spot them quickly – otherwise the miraculous moments will pass by, and I'll be left wondering why I never experienced one in my life?!


Anonymous said...

While surfing in the net I discovered your profile and I also love
the work of Paulo Coelho!!!! Do you know that he is launching his new
book, The Witch of Portobello, through his blog
I found it out because i'm inscibed to his newsletter
it's simply wonderful!
have a nice day!