Monday, January 5, 2015

Lessons from Aleph

As I recently said to one of my friend, depending on the moment of your life you are reading a book, you can be led to different appreciations. In facts, what you have experienced and/or are currently experiencing can affect the way you read, like and understand a book. This is what I discovered when I read for the second time Aleph by Paulo Coelho. The first time I read this novel, I was quickly annoyed by the story and could not end it. Although I would not classify it as one of my favorite books, after reading it twice, I have learned great lessons that I would like to share with you.

1-     We are what we wish to be

For me, the best illustration for this context is the example of the relationship between children and parents. Some kids are willing to foregone or even abandon their dreams to choose the career their parents want them to pursue.  As a result, a lot of people end up doing a job they hate and make them feel sad. Finally they will always complain about the choice their parents “forced” them to make. Paulo Coelho said “we are not the person other people wish we were. We are who we decide to be. It’s always easy to blame others. You can spend your entire life blaming the world but your successes or failures are entirely your own responsibility“.

2-     Take risk and do what you desire

People are always going to carp whatever you do. Even the greatest messengers, Muhammad, Jesus, and Moises (Peace be upon them) did not make unanimity so it’s clear that you won’t please to everyone. You are a human and it’s obvious that you may fail in your experiences but you need to learn this advice of Coelho. “Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do. Seek out people who aren’t afraid of making mistakes and who, therefore, do make mistakes. Because of that, their work often isn’t recognized, but they are precisely the kind of people who change the world and, after many mistakes do something that will transform their own community completely.”

3-     Visit your soul instead of visiting your past

For many people it is difficult to go beyond the errors of the past. We tend to be stuck in what we should or could have done to change our present. We need to know that we can’t go in the past to change what happened. This is actually what I always say when a friend of mine is moping because of bad grades. The most important is what you can do now to improve your situation. The writer said “it takes a huge effort to free yourself from memory, but when you succeed, you start to realize that you’re capable of far more than you imagined. Visit your soul, don’t visit your past.”

4-     To live is to experience things

In Aleph which by the way is defined by the point where everything, the whole universe in contained, the narrator has spent years learning his environment, theories about life, spirituality. At a specific point of his life, he felt like he was engaged in a routine and started having doubt about the path he was following. His master J. convinced him to experience something new. Aleph is therefore a trip for Paulo Coelho to discover himself. This journey led him to travel with the Trans-Siberian from the first station to the end of the railway. Like the first time I read it, many people will find this book annoying or difficult to understand especially in the beginning. But if there is only one thing that must be grabbed from this reading, it is that “to live is to experience things, not sit around pondering the meaning of life.

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