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Two years ago—in the time before COVID-19—I volunteered at the Bali Silent Retreat Center for two months.
It was a magical space: full of tropical trees, dragonfruit, lotus flowers, rivers, birds, papaya trees, and a vast garden. All of the food we ate was from the soil that dirtied our bare feet as we walked to our little abodes each day.
I could write a whole entry on the wonders of nature and silence and this place, but what most captured my heart was their library.
Atop the kitchen was an open-windowed space, littered with colorful pillows, overlooking the lush jungle and village around us. The library was built from years of travelers donating their reads, and within this library was all of Paulo Coelho‘s books.
I read them all; every night as the sun set, distant gambelans played, and frogs serenaded the stars, the words of Coelho empowered my heart and clutched to the essence of my soul.
He understands the fears, the bravery, the torment, and toil of a heart; he reveals simply the truth of achieving true happiness and offers spiritual teachings in a poetic way that hits your heart differently—as it should—every time you read it.
His words have reconnected me to the lost essence of who I really am–time and time again.
Here are 19 Paulo Coelho quotes for the times you feel lost, broken, or afraid. May they bring you back to yourself:
“At every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.”
“The most important thing in all human relationships is conversation, but people don’t talk anymore, they don’t sit down to talk and listen. They go to the theater, the cinema, watch television, listen to the radio, read books, but they almost never talk. If we want to change the world, we have to go back to a time when warriors would gather around a fire and tell stories.”
“‘Everyone believes the world’s greatest lie.’ says the mysterious old man.
‘What is the world’s greatest lie?’ the little boy asks.
The old man replies, ‘It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.'”
“You are what you believe yourself to be.”
“Don’t explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you.”
“If I must be faithful to someone or something, I have, first of all, have to be faithful to myself.”
“Those who wish to learn magic ought to begin by looking around them.”
“When he was a child, that man wanted to travel, too. But he decided first to buy his bakery and put some money aside. When he’s an old man, he’s going to spend a month in Africa.
He never realized that people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.”
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.”
“We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body.”
“Have pity on those who are fearful of taking up a pen, or a paintbrush, or an instrument, or a tool because they are afraid that someone has already done so better than they could.”
“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
“People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them.”
“No matter how you feel today, get up, dress up, and show up.”