“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Does it, though?
When I read The Alchemist years ago, this particular quote stood out to me more than any other. It wasn’t just me, everyone spoke about Paulo Coelho’s declaration that the universe accommodates the dreamer. It was aspirational, and it led me to believe in myself a little more than I did before.
That was years ago.
As I grew up and dreamt of bigger and more worthy goals, I realised that the universe was far from helping me. It started to seem as if the universe was going out of its way to prevent me from reaching my heart’s desire. Every task turned sour. Every day, and every want became painful to swallow. I started channelling my anger and frustration at Coelho for stuffing my head with false promises when none of his claims worked for me. Not that I failed in all of my endeavours, but the process of achieving them often seemed like sheer luck or extensive effort. None of my successes came easy, and by the time I completed a tiny goal I was too tired even to celebrate. And for that I pitied myself and hated everyone else. Jealously crept through me as my colleagues and acquaintances succeeded without expending even half of my efforts. It infuriated me that they had life the easy way when I—who craved for it more than they did—struggled to stay afloat.
It was unfair.
Here I am stringing bits and pieces to capture the bigger picture while the undeserving got all the opportunity I should have.
I’m ashamed now, But I was so jealous then.
I still believe in Paulo Coelho’s aspirational words, but instead of trusting them in a blind way, I take them with a grain of salt.
I’ve realised that sometimes the universe tests us, torments us, and taunts us to see how much we want what we want. Sure, some people might not face challenges, but it’s the challenges and the way we meet them that determine how deserving we are. More often than not, we give up even before we face those challenges.
I’ve wanted to give up so many times—I’d considered all the negativity as a sign for me to stop trying. As if all the hurdles in the path towards my goal are omens telling me I shouldn’t pursue my goals.
And I think that’s where most of us fall behind. We get so close to achieving our goals, after striving for years, and as we encounter one more step back, we decide to step back altogether.
But if we hang on, persevere despite all the world telling us not to, the universe just might turn in our favour. It won’t happen in an instant, and it may not happen for a long time, but some time the horizon will come.
The Witch of Portobello is one my favourite books of Paulo Coelho. But I’m not sure if I agree with him on this one.
I’m no extrovert. And I’m no expert.
But I do know a lot of extroverts. And I know they love making merry and being comfortable. But so do introverts. We all want to be happy. The difference is how we represent ourselves. If extroverts are happy in large gatherings of friends, introverts are happy in the company of one good friend. It’s just that not many people know it when introverts are happy, because we share it with a select few. As for our extrovert counterparts, they like sharing their happiness with more than a select few.
But on a deeper level, extroverts or introverts, we all try to prove something to ourselves. And if being happy is what it is, then I say, nothing’s better.
I’ve begun to lose interest in Paulo Coelho. And trust me, I don’t want to.
Every time I open one of his books, I look for that something I found in The Witch of Portobello. I loved that book, and in comparison, both books I read afterward (By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept and The Devil and Miss Prym) ended up disappointing me.
The thing with The Devil and Miss Prym is that I got lost plenty of times while reading the book. I admit, I was sleep deprived, but even so, the book was a painful read. Plus, I had a bus journey of about 6 hours to look forward to, and the book was my sole companion.
I almost forced myself to finish reading this book. It’s one of those stupid things they call closure. Unless I finish reading a book, it keeps popping up in my head, bugging me, torturing me, and making me feel all kinds of guilty.
So I leaned back in my seat and, stifling my yawn to avoid my neighbour from judging me, opened the lovely-coloured cover. And every five minutes, I had to tear my eyes off the view of the street and get back into the book. That’s how slow it went.
But with all respect, the book wasn’t all a loser. It was nice, and parts of it were great. With a simple narrative, a solid story, and some good characterisation, it was a decent read.
It just wasn’t my type.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve started to think Paulo Coelho is trying too hard to be philosophical and spiritual. All this talk about what’s right and what’s not, the co-existence of devils and angels, evil and good, the question of conscience, and the unmistakable victory of all things good — and here I am wondering what’s new. It’s the “same ol’ same ol’” story.
But I don’ want to give up yet. One, because I still hope Paulo Coelho had written something as captivating as Athena’s story. And two, because I had already bought a boxed set of his books that I don’t want to leave unread. Oh, and the covers — they’re beautiful with luring fresh print, and my mind seeks closure.
Part of me wants to give up on Paulo Coelho — at least for the time being, but the bigger part of me wants to read the other books too — just in case. I don’t want to miss a great book, just because I didn’t like a couple.
I’ve been having a bad last year, not finishing the books I started. So this time, I promised to get in a lot of reading as possible.
I had bought a boxed set of Paulo Coelho’s books, and after The Alchemist and The Witch of Portobello (which I loved), I opened this one with the same interest.
I was a bit disappointed. People had warned me about the author’s excessive reference to religion, but not having experienced it much in other books I had read, I went into this one innocent.
I won’t deny, there were some great parts where I could relate to the story and to the spiritual message. But by the time I finished the book, I was left only with the author’s strong religious beliefs. I even had the feeling he had tried to force his belief into the book.
Nevertheless, it was an easy read, and I liked the way the author differentiated the love for god and the love for people.
Overall, I’m not sure if I liked the book enough to recommend it to anyone. Would I read it again? I don’t think so.