Thursday, March 19, 2009

Paulo Coelho

I finished reading Paulo Coelho’s The Valkyries last night. Although it’s most definitely my least favorite of his books so far, like with all Coelho books I’ve read, I felt inspired by his words at several points. Some of his writing tactics are quite irritating and a little narcissistic, but I think overall he has a positive purpose behind his writing. If you’ve never read Paulo Coelho, you’ve probably heard of The Alchemist, which is great, but my absolute favorite is By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.

The Valkyries is different from his other books in the sense that it’s actually more like creative nonfiction than a novel. He and his wife went on a 40-day quest through the Mojave Desert to confront their pasts and gain new spiritual insights. It gets a little, well, too much for me at times, but the overall theme really struck a chord with me:

“Why do we destroy the things we love most?”

The idea fascinates me. And tying into that, one passage from the end of the book definitely stood out to me, and I hope that at the very least, I can use it as inspiration to not give up what feels like a never-ending job search. He writes:

“Our defects, our dangerous depths, our suppressed hatreds, our moments of weakness and desperation—all are unimportant. If what we want to do is heal ourselves first, so that then we can go in search of our dreams, we will never reach paradise. If, on the other hand, we accept all that is wrong about us—and despite it, believe that we are deserving of a happy life—then we will have thrown open an immense window that will allow love to enter.”


  1. Probably just semantics and maybe misinterpretation (I haven't read his books...), but, fwiw, I think our "defects", our dangerous depths, our suppressed hatreds, and our moments of weakness and desperation are all-important, not unimportant or wrong. The best parts of our character are often born in these experiences. Besides (in addition?), how can we know love without context?

  2. I think he would actually agree that those types of experiences build character. However, his point here is that you accept your weaknesses/mistakes/etc rather than fixating on them. So they're unimportant in the sense that you simply accept them rather than dwell on them.

    That's what I take from it, anyway.