Sunday, May 31, 2009

By The River Piedra: Final Thoughts

Well no one seemed to be participating in The Book Club again so I went right ahead and finished the book this past week. Once again I found myself reading what I needed to hear: a story about forgiveness, letting go of past hate and appreciating and taking hold of present opportunities so that you may learn to grow and love. I'm not exactly there yet, but it's a nice goal to aim for.

Although I enjoyed The Alchemist much more than By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, there was still much to take out of the quick read. Paulo Coelho has such a gift for presenting profound messages using simple - yet beautiful - language. It's another one of those stories you could read over and over and discover something new each time. Below, another favorite passage that stayed with me long after the last page was read.

"I began to imagine how I would like to be living right at that moment. I wanted to be happy, curious, joyful - living every moment intensely, drinking the water of life thirstily. Believing again in my dreams. Able to fight for what I wanted.

Loving a man who loved me.

Yes, that was the woman I wanted to be - the woman who was suddenly presenting herself and becoming me.

I felt that my soul was bathed in the light of a god - or of a goddess - in whom I had lost faith. And I felt that at that moment, the Other left my body and was standing in the corner of that small room.

I observed the woman I had been up until then: weak but trying to give the impression of strength. Fearful of everything but telling herself it wasn't fear - it was the wisdom of someone who knew what reality was. Putting up shutters in front of windows to keep the joy of the sun from entering - just so the sun's rays wouldn't fade my old furniture.

I looked at the Other, there in the corner of the room - fragile, exhausted, disillusioned. Controlling and enslaving what should really be free: her emotions. Trying to judge her future loves by the rules of her past suffering.

But love is always new. Regardless of whether we love once, twice, or a dozen times in our life, we always face a brand-new situation. Love can consign us to hell or to paradise, but it always takes us somewhere. We simply have to accept it, because it is what nourishes our existence. If we reject it, we die of hunger, because we lack the courage to stretch out a hand and pluck the fruit from the branches of the tree of life. We have to take love where we find it, even if that means hours, days, weeks of disappointment and sadness.

The moment we begin to seek love, love begins to seek us.

And to save us."

In all the books I've read, I don't remember relating to a character as much as I did with Pilar. Does such a character exist for you?



  1. Good morning. I just got the book from the library yesterday. I read half the book...continuously wondering how the main character relates to me in my relationships. The author tugs at that thread throughout ... so I continued to make comparisons. I find that (so far) that I have been in Pilars shoes but found the strength to get past my fears.

    I'll continue reading this week and give you my final thoughts then.

    Hope you are doing ok...and life is looking happier.

  2. Beautiful words indeed - I really like "I wanted to be happy, curious, joyful - living every moment intensely, drinking the water of life thirstily."

    I'd really like you to feel that way.

    Back when you said you were going to read this book, I was hoping this book didn't hit too close to home - it could have been like ripping scabs off fresh cuts.

    So whats the next book?

    P.s., I always related to Charlie Brown and Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes). Hmm...

  3. Love is always new....indeed. That's the best lesson I'd take from that. If you can remember that, the past won't weigh so heavily. :) I really want to be able to read along. Please keep talking about the books you'll start so I can try and get them as well. You started this one in the middle of some stuff I had going on and it ended up not being ideal for me. I do hope you'll share the next read with us!

  4. I think the closest I came to identifying with a character is with Much Afraid out of Hinds' Feet On High Places. I first read it when I was working for a Christian school in Louisiana. I've read it twice more since then, when I feel I need a reminder. I see there's a second book called Mountains of Spices, I'll need to remember to grab that one as well.

  5. caren, well then I think you'll like Pilar and see yourself in her more as the story continues. I'd love to hear what your thoughts are when you're done!

    intense guy, you know what? Despite the mopey title, the book was not sad at all! It just made me think and yes, feel sorry for the characters, but I didn't feel sad at any point in the story. I think I was concentrating more on the girl's transformation and I guess that's a good thing. Focusing on the positive changes that occur even in the bad times is a better way to see things.

    I'm currently reading another book my coworker lent me, which I'll write about as soon as I'm done. I still haven't decided what I'll pick up after that.

    And P.S. Calvin and Hobbes is my favorite comic strip of all time :)

    tooj, oh it's ok, I understand. And I'll keep sharing what I'm currently reading for those who are interested in adding it to their list.

    ladystyx, don't you just love books you can revisit again and again and feel like you're reading it for the first time? Sometimes I get a bit sad when I'm done with a really good book. I usually wish I hadn't read it so I could read it for the first time all over again.

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