In previous Maverick Spirits I have commented on the writings of Paulo Coelho who is the author of the international blockbusting best seller - The Alchemist. In his new book, Like the River Flowing he has published a collection of thoughts and reflections. I have chosen three that have struck a particular cord with me as I plan for 2007.
Norma and the Good Things
In Madrid lives Norma, a very special Brazilian lady. The Spanish call her ‘the rocking grandma’. She is over sixty and works in various places, organising promotions, parties, and concerts.
Once, at about four in the morning, when I was so tired U could barely stand, I asked Norma where she got all her energy from.
‘I have a magic calendar. If you like, I can show it to you.’
The following day, I went to her house. She picked up an old, much scribbled-upon calendar.
‘Right, today is the day they discovered a vaccine against polio,’ she said. ‘We must celebrate that, because life is beautiful.’
On each day of the year, Norma had written down something good that happened on that date. For her, life was always a reason to be happy.
The Funny Thing about Human Beings
A man asked Jaime Chone: ‘What is the human being’s funniest characteristic?’
Cohen said: ‘Our contradictories. We are in such a hurry to grow up, and then we long for our lost childhood. We make ourselves ill earning money, and then spend all our money on getting well again. We think so much about the future that we neglect the present, and thus experience neither the present nor the future. We live as if we were never going to die, and die as if we had never lived.’
Who Would Like This Twenty – Dollar Bill?
Cassan Said Amer tells the story of a lecturer who began a seminar by holding up a twenty – dollar bill asking: ‘Who would like this twenty-dollar bill?’
Several Hands went up, but the lecturer said: ‘Before I give it to you, I have to do something.’
He screwed it up into a ball and said: ‘Who still wants this bill?’
The hands went up again.
‘And what if I do this to it?’
He threw the crumpled bill at the wall, dropped it to the floor, insulted it, trampled on it, and once more showed them the bill – now all creased and dirty. He repeated the question, and the hands stayed up.
‘Never forget this scene,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t matter what I do to this money. It is still a twenty – dollar bill. So often in our lives, we are crumpled, trampled, ill-treated, insulted, and yet, despite all that, we are still worth the same.’