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Book of the Week: Manuscript Found in Accra

Balot’s Stamp: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I have read Accra before (I could not remember when, of course). But since I have a memory of a fish, it was like reading this Coelho novel for the first time (again!).

It’s amazing how Coelho’s novels have become an important part of my life. By the River Piedra helped me during my younger years when I was still finding my way in the crazy world of love and the frustrations that came with it; Veronika Decides To Die accompanied me during my depression; Winner Stands Alone rose with me at the height of my career; The Alchemist once again guided me to my destiny when I decided to leave  my corporate job and eventually found my first love, writing; and now (again), Manuscript when the whole waiting for my pregnancy to happen is becoming a source of great frustration.

Manuscript Found in Accra, like all other Coelho books, is very insightful. I have read in one review that it sounded preachy — well, that was the whole point of the book actually. Because the Captain (Copt) is being asked questions about life and everything in between and he shares his wisdom. When you share your wisdom, it can be taken in two ways: to those who resist, it will sound preachy; to those who are open, it will give you enlightenment. I am part of the latter. Once again, Coelho sheds light to my uneasiness.

One of the strategies that I have in choosing a book is looking for excerpts – if I am drawn to one part of the book, I am more likely to enjoy it. But of course, that does not happen 100% of the time.

Well anyway — here goes the part which I liked (among many others) —

“The traveler continues his journey. He doesn’t complain of boredom now; he complains, rather, that he is tired. But that point he rests, enjoys the landscape, and then carries on.
Instead of spending his whole life destroying the roads he was afraid of following, he begins to love the road he is on.

Religions teach that faith and transformation are the only ways of drawing near to God.

Even if his final destination remains a mystery, even if, at some point, he makes a wrong decision, God sees his courage and sends him the necessary inspiration to put matters right.


What continues to trouble him is not what happens, but a fear that he won’t know how to deal with it. Once he has decided to follow his path and has no alternative, he discovers that he has great willpower and that events bend to his decisions.


“Difficulty” is the name of an ancient tool that was created purely to help us define who we are. Faith shows us that we are never alone. Transformation helps us to love the mystery.


And when everything seems dark, and we feel alone and helpless, we won’t look back, for fear of seeing the changes that have taken place in our soul. We will look ahead. 


We will not fear what happens tomorrow, because yesterday we had someone watching over us. And that same Presence will remain at our side. That Presence will shelter us from suffering. Or It will give us the strength to face it with dignity. We will go farther than we think. We will seek out the place where the morning star is born. And we will be surprised when we get there how much easier it was than we had imagined.”

What do you think, loves? Have you read this book? If yes, how will you rate it? 
 
xx,
Balot

Inspiration by Paulo Coelho

“You are useful when you give inspiration to people.”

-Paulo Coelho

I have been struggling with my writing as of late. Some call it writer’s block. Some call it creative drought. Whatever it is, yes, I have it. For several days now.

I browsed some articles to research on how to get rid of this halt. These were the tips I got.

  • Change your environment. (But it’s so dreary outside!)
  • Read a book. (This bed weather is making me sleepy.)
  • Exercise. (Uhmm..)

And then, I stumbled upon this – Part 3 of 4 of Paulo’s podcast on writing.

 

“What is inspiration? Inspiration is breathing. You put what is outside inside of you. And then, you expire. So, inspiration is something that everybody has, not only writers… Everybody has, when you do things with love. It is connected with this energy that we don’t understand. We can explain, explain, explain, but it is connected with the energy of love.  If you enjoy what you are doing, you’re going to be inspired to share it with other people. However, inspiration, you cannot guide inspiration. Inspiration is a boat and you are in this boat, in a sea. So there is this gigantic sea. And your boat is taking you. Inspiration is guiding you. Inspiration is this wind that is guiding you towards your destiny. If you try to guide inspiration, you are lost.” -Paulo Coelho

This is actually the first time that I have played a videocast from Paulo’s blog and my admiration for this man has been cemented in my life more than ever before. I seriously had goosebumps listening to him.

If you are a close friend, you would know that I adore Coelho. I have all his books, I have read and re-read them more than you can ever imagine. I couldn’t pick a favorite Coelho book because I love them all. And yes, one more thing, I trash all my Coelho books. I am really sorry but I do. I only do this to his books. You know what those are?

Yes! Dog-ears! My bad. But what can I do? Too many lines that I love. How can one write so profoundly? Almost every other page? That’s crazy!

I wish that someday my own creative wind will guide me to write something that could give inspiration to other people. In the meantime, please do enjoy listening to my hero as he has inspired me enormously today.

Check out the first installments of Paulo’s videocast on writing below:

Part  I on Writing

Part II on Writing

Part IV on Writing

xx,

Balot

Book Quotes: Aleph by Paulo Coelho

 

Balot Aleph

“I love you,” I tell her. “I love you because all the loves in the world are like different rivers flowing into the same lake, where they meet and are transformed into a single love that becomes rain and blesses the earth.

 
“I love you like a river that creates the right conditions for trees and bushes and flowers to flourish along its banks. I love you like a river that gives water to the thirsty and takes people where they want to go.
 
“I love you like a river that understands that it must learn to flow differently over waterfalls and to rest in the shallows. I love you because we are all born in the same place, at the same source, which keeps us provided with constant supply of water. And so, when we feel weak, all we have to do is wait a little. The spring returns, and the winter snows melt and fill us with new energy.
 
“I love you like a river that begins as a solitary trickle in the mountains and gradually grows and joins other rivers until, after a certain point, it can flow around any obstacle in order to get where it wants.
 
“I receive your love, and I give you mine. Not the love of a man for a woman, not the love of a father for a child, not the love of God for his creatures, but a love with no name and no explanation, like a river that cannot explain why it follows a particular course but simply flows onward. A love that asks for nothing and gives nothing in return; it is simply there.”

 

 

Loving Unconditionally

 Balot Heart

“I am going to sit here with you by the river. If you go home to sleep, I will sleep in front of your house. And if you go away, I will follow you — until you tell me to go away. Then I’ll leave. But I have to love you for the rest of my life.” – Paulo Coelho

There are many forms of love. There are four kinds according to C.S. Lewis in his book The Four Loves — Storge, Philia, Eros and Agape. Storge means affection often existing among family members and relatives; Philia for friendship; Eros for romance and Agape is a love that brings forth caring regardless the circumstance.
 
Today, I have come to discover that unconditional love resides in me despite my consistent nonchalance, my “no-reply” to texts or my pure lack of showing emotions and concern. In my life, there are certain people who I love in this unfathomable way. 
 
My love for my family does not merely exemplify affection (or Storge) — it is a down-to-the-core kind of love wherein no kind of circumstance could make me turn away from them. This is a big claim. I see families being torn apart, siblings hating each other because of differences and disagreements, children hating their parents for being control freaks or whatnots. I will, however, remain true to this unconditional feeling of loyalty, of deep concern (which may or may not be explicit) and of defending them to death. Of having to love them for the rest of my life. No matter what.
 
Same goes with my certain set of friends who I consider closest to me. That despite distance and time separating us, despite complicated situations happening in our lives which may or may not be agreeable to the things we each believe in, I will always put in a pedestal the treasured moments that bonded us together from the very start of our friendship and remember that this too, is for better or for worse, within reason and beyond. It is very seldom that you see this kind of friendship. I am one lucky girl.
 
Lastly, the kind of love Venus promotes — Eros. My relationship with my husband transcends romance. It is affection. It is friendship. It is fondness and familiarity. Sometimes it is spoiled and abusive, not physically and not in a bad way, mind you. It is fun and yes, it is caring regardless of circumstance. It is still subject to the test of time and I pray that it remains how it is now. 
 
In closing, I think my life is near-perfection because of this. Some people may call me pretentious or a hypocrite. These people are bitter for they generally reject the possibility that someone can truly be happy probably due to their own dismal and miserable lives. I do not blame them.  
 
Me? I am simply grateful that He keeps on blessing me with the love that He promised to give mankind. Love and be loved in return. And I am loved. Because of my family. Because of my friends. Because of my partner. I hope a lot of people feel the same way in their own lives as well. 🙂 

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.” -C.S. Lewis

Decision. Indecision.

Balot Crossroads“There is always a right moment to act.” – Aleph, Paulo Coelho

The month of March in my Paulo Coelho Day Planner is all dedicated to decision or making decisions, for that matter. Funny because it seems to be a very apt moment for me to be lectured on these things. 
 
I always believe in being at the right moment at the right time and somehow, this is another manifestation of it. In my life, there are decisions that I have been postponing to do. For what reason? I do not know. Maybe because of fear. Fear of regret or fear of not being able to stand by what I have decided upon; or simply because I linger in the idea that everything works out well in the end anyway and I do not really need to rush anything.

But once again, as if directly talking to me, I would like to share these snippets in my Coelho planner which seem to have all the answers to my questions

 

The warrior allows the decision to reveal itself. If he has to say “yes”, he will say it bravely. If he has to say “no”, he will say it without a trace of cowardice. -Warrior of the Light: A Manual


We are not the person other people wish we were. We are who we decide to be. 
-Aleph


Fear is understandable until the inevitable happens. But from then on, it loses all meaning. And what remains is the hope that we made the right decision. 
-The Fifth Mountain


I believe in signs. I believe in fate. I believe that every single day people are offered the chance to make the best possible decision about everything they do. A warrior does not succumb to fear when he goes in search of what he needs. Without love he is nothing. 
-Chronicle: A Warrior of the Light and His Life

The more I re-read all these things make me realize that decision-making is inevitable. That there will always be crossroads in my life and I need to choose the road I should take. And the path I take will define who I am and where I want to be.
 
In less than four months, I will be entering a new life. A new life of commitment and dedication. I know that I will be happy. Because at that right moment and right here, right now, I have decided. I have decided to enter a commitment in front of the Church and the State and the world to the one person who I have already accepted wholeheartedly and who did the same for me. 
 
This is a decision that will change my life. A decision I am reaffirming now without a trace of doubt or cowardice. People say that it is admirable for couples who stay together without having to prove love with a piece of legal document. As much as I respect that view and admire those people as well (take Johnny Depp for example), I think it is also another leap of faith to materialize an intangible thing because you know that you will stand by a decision no matter what the future brings.
 

Lord, protect our decisions, because coming to a decision is a way of praying. Give us courage so that, despite our doubts, we can choose between one path and another. -Chronicle: The Prayer I Forgot, Paulo Coelho