I used to be a fan of Paulo Coelho before he became all mainstream-ish. He’s helped me get through college with his eclectic works which encompass a vast universe of things and themes, from husbandry to prostitution to emoting by the river Piedra. But I stopped following him after The Winner Stands Alone maybe because I got busy with real life or probably I just started to outgrow his books.
Nevertheless, Coelho remains an influential part of my life and I literally won’t be the person that I am today without his help. Below is a beautifully written excerpt from his book By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept which showcases how much of a literary alchemy the man is, as he can turn words into gold.
By the river Piedra I sat down and wept. There is a legend that everything that falls into the waters of this river—leaves, insects, the feathers of birds—is transformed into the rocks that make the riverbed. If only I could tear out my heart and hurl it into the current, then my pain and longing would be over, and I could finally forget.
By the river Piedra I sat down and wept. The winter air chills the tears on my cheeks, and my tears fall into the cold waters that course past me. Somewhere, this river joins another, then another, until far from my heart and sight all of them merge with the sea.
May my tears run just as far, that my love might never know that one day I cried for him.
May my tears run just as far, that I might forget the River Piedra, the monastery, the church in the Pyrenees, the mists, and the paths we walked together.
I shall forget the roads, the mountains, and the fields of my dreams, the dreams that will never come true.
I remember my “magic moment”—that instant when a “yes” or a “no” can change one’s life forever. It seems so long ago now. It is hard to believe that it was only last week that I had found my love once again, and then lost him.
I am writing this story on the bank of the River Piedra. My hands are freezing, my legs are numb, and every minute I want to stop.
“Seek to live. Remembrance is for the old,” he said.
Perhaps love makes us old before our time or—young, if youth has passed. But how can I not recall those moments? That is why I write to try to turn sadness into longing, solitude into remembrance. So that when I finish telling myself the story, I can toss it into the Piedra. That’s what the woman who has given me shelter told me to do. Only then in the words of one of the saints will the water extinguish what the flames have written.
All love stories are the same.