” By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” by Paulo Coelho is a book that I can only describe as life-changing. I personally related to the main character, Pilar, who was looking for a greater meaning for her existence, while trying to manage between university and work. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a deeper understanding of life’s mysteries. In addition, I would recommend this book for the 20 somethings out there: THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON SO MANY TOPICS!
Here are the lessons I have learned from reading this book:
- We have to be willing to take risks in order for us to find love and understand the miracle of life fully, as stated in the words of the spiritual teacher in the book.
- Every day God gives us a new opportunity to grow and change things that make us unhappy; Today is not the same as yesterday and won’t be the same as tomorrow! The miracle of life happens EVERY SINGLE DAY.
- Magic exists! Everyone can experience magic, even while doing things that we consider “mundane” or things that seem familiar to us like walking in nature or doing house chores. Personally, I experience magic when I watch the sunrise, hold a baby’s hand or kiss my partner. Let’s not let these magical moments slip away from us.
- When we follow and go after our dreams, we are going to experience suffering and disappointment; this is why few people actually follow their dreams and would rather be “safe” than truly happy. All the difficult times are worth it because one day we will look back at our journey with happiness and satisfaction.
- People who never take risks perhaps will never experience disappointment or suffering;however, when those people look back at their lives, they will be certain of only one thing: that they wasted their life! Let’s use and enjoy the miracles that God gives us every day and more importantly, use our talents.
- There is a child inside each of us that understands and craves magic moments. We can ignore this child, but we cannot silence its voice. Jesus said, “Blessed are the children, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Now we understand why. Let’s look at life with the innocence and eagerness of children, because once we stop doing that, we have no reason to keep on living. Let’s allow that child to be in control of our lives, even for a little bit, even if that means doing things that others might find silly or even things that might scare us. Once we listen to that child more, we will enjoy life in a more profound way. I have few suggestions that I personally practice to let my inner child feel heard and love: dancing, coloring books, being as honest and authentic as possible about who I am, smiling at strangers.
- Love is the path that leads to wisdom. If we want to be wise, we have to love. In the book, Pilar tries to stay “in control of her heart” because she believed that it is the only way to conquer the world. This resonated deeply with me, because I see a lot of people I know, including myself sometimes, that lead lives that make them miserable for the sake of staying in control and not getting hurt and avoiding failure. Many try to stay safe by doing what everyone else is doing. By doing this, we miss out on the chance to experience life fully.
- We are all responsible for writing the script of our life. Some people write their scripts based on their frustrations. However these people cannot always present the “play” by themselves, so they invite other “actors” to join in. When we agree to join in, we become victims and we always end up losing because we put our strength and power in other peoples’ hands.
- True love is when we see God in the person we love. True love is when we experience full communion with the other.
- Many people go in search of God, but they don’t end up finding him. The reason is because God is here, on our side. God is in the present. We can only experience the presence of God when we are truly mindful of the present moment. God is within us and around us all the time.
- It is God’s will for us to be truly happy. God is constantly asking us to follow our hearts and dreams. We are often told that God wants us to pray, fast, abstain, take a vow of chastity or follow rules that are set up by other people; however, that is not the case. God is simple : all we have to do is have faith and accept God in our hearts, only then we become an instrument for His miracles.
And I am saving the best for the last, my favorite lesson from the book: Let’s not live the role of the “other”.
Who is the “other”?
The other is the part of us that teaches us how we “should” be like, not who we are. Notice I used the word “should”. The “other” is not our authentic self. The “other” makes us believe that we are obligated to live our lives trying to make as much money as possible in order to be happy. The “other” makes us think that one day we will be happy, but not now. The “other” makes us afraid of disappointment and failure. The “other” makes us think that love isn’t worth it and staying “safe” is the best way of living. The “other” is fuelled by fear and insecurity.
Then what is the opposite of the “other”?
A person who listens to their heart and follows their dreams. A person who is in awe by the mystery of life. A person who is happy and enthusiastic about what they do. A person who takes action.
You might be thinking ” so how can I get rid of the other”?
The “other” will always be there; however, we have control over whether we listen to it or not. So Let’s not let the other be in control of our lives!
I would have to write multiple blog posts in order to cover all the beautiful lessons I have learned from that book. For the sake of time, I will leave you with these lessons. I hope that you will take the time to reflect and put into action some of them.
You can buy the book from Amazon by following this link: