David knew what that normal life entailed. He had lived it the past 5 years. At 28, he thought, if I go back now, that will be it. I will probably never return. And he was probably right.
A traveler who returns home from his journeys always wants to travel again. Perhaps he need not travel to the same physical place, but he will want to travel to recapture the feeling, the spirit, the adventure of meeting new people and having new experiences each day. He wants to, but he probably won’t.
Why not? With such a strong feeling and desire to recapture the adventure, why does he not seek it out? Because life intervenes. After having been home for awhile, the feeling diminishes a little bit each day. The reality of returning to his travels becomes more distant. Each new possession, each new relationship, each new promotion, seals his soul a little bit more to his current place. And one day, the adventure becomes part of the past: pictures on a wall, stories among friends, artifacts in the attic.
David was not ready for his journey to end. He had been traveling for one month and had not fully realized his dream. Was this theft that he endured a sign telling him to pack it in, return home, return to his previous life? No.
Don’t forget that everything you deal with is only one thing and nothing else.
Ok, David thought, I have no money, no passport, no clothes…what do I have? I have me.
There was a language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout the time that he was trying to improve things at the shop. It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.
With boundless energy, David walked into the hostel and explained his situation. They informed him that he could not stay there with no money, but pointed him in the direction of someplace that occasionally would hire travelers for work. He visited this place, but found no employment. The owner however liked David’s energy and said, “I have another friend who may be able to help.” And, in this manner, David found something to eat, a place to stay for the night, and a job tending bar that he would have for the next 6 months. In this time, he learned the language and the business. This knowledge became the foundation for David’s future.
Obviously, I had not intended any of this when I gave the book to David. But when I see the joy in his life now, I’m happy that my gift had a little something to do with it.
Here in my journeys in South America, Paulo Coelho has become a renewed influence in my life. In trying to improve my language skills, I wanted to find a good book that I could read in Spanish. The first book that I saw when I entered the bookstore was Paulo Coelho’s latest: Como El Rio Que Fluye: Pensamientos Y Reflexiones 1998-2005. (Like a River That Flows: Thoughts and Reflections: 1998-2005)
There’s no such thing as coincidence … the mysterious chain that links one thing to another, the same chain that had caused him to become a shepherd, that had caused his recurring dream, that had brought him to a city near Africa, to find a king, and to be robbed in order to meet a crystal merchant, and …
I randomly opened the book and landed on an essay called Viajar de forma diferente: Travel in a Different Way. This essay describes nine rules of traveling, which in a much more lucid fashion mirror the idea I had when I started my trip to South America. I laughed as I read rule #1: Evita los museos (Avoid Museums)
I immediately bought the book.
I have always thought that big ideas do not need to be accompanied by big words. Sometimes, the best ideas are best presented simply, through anecdotes and stories. Paulo Coelho’s stories were perfect not only for learning Spanish but being exposed to great ideas.
It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.
I began discussing the essays with my Spanish teacher. Each class, she would read one article out loud to help me with pronunciation and I would record it.
As my English-speaking friends and I struggle to pronounce words in Spanish, we have begun using these recordings as our foundation. We listen to the recordings, read them out loud, and then talk about the content of the essays presented in the book. Some essays were well-liked by all while others were displeasing to some. But each article became a good way for us to improve our Spanish and discover new ideas.
Just as David had no idea where his European journey would end, I had no idea I would be writing this. I only wanted to visit South America for a few months of travel. Eight months later, I have lived in many parts of Uruguay, found life-long friends, learned a good bit of Spanish, started this blog, and now…now I found myself Contacting Paulo Coelho.
Since my friends and I have shared great experiences with Paulo’s book, I thought…Hmmm, it would be great if I could present some of these recordings to the general public to assist them with their Spanish pronunciation and introduce them to the ideas of Paulo Coelho.
But I cannot do this without his permission. And, so, I am composing an email to send to Paulo Coelho to see if I can get permission to transmit 7 of his essays from Como el río que fluye in Spanish on the internet. While this is exciting to me, I am more enthused to communicate with Paulo Coelho himself as he is, obviously, a man that I greatly admire.
Story continues…Contacting Paulo Coelho, Part III, The Email. Send all your good karma in the hopes that I receive a response.
Get your copy of his latest book entitled Obvious Conclusions, stories of a Midwestern emigrant influenced and corrupted by many years living in San Francisco and abroad. It just received its first outstanding review "...reminiscent of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs" on Amazon UK.
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