Sunday, December 10, 2006

By the River Piedra I sat down and wept

Yesterday evening I was browsing through a bookstore with a friend. All of a sudden she picked up a book, quickly scanned the back and said: "Oh! This reminds me of you. I'm buying it for you now as an early Christmas present." The way she said it so confidently, I thought she had read it and knew what she was talking about.

The book was BY THE RIVER PIEDRA I SAT DOWN AND WEPT by Paulo Coelho. The title made me think it would be a sad book ... but when she asked me if I wanted it or another book I had been flipping through, I trusted the sudden energy with which she had said "This reminds me of you" and decided to stick with "River Piedra".

When I got home last night I was very sleepy and tired but I lay in bed and started to read it. It began with a lovely 'Author's Note" by Paulo Coelho, followed by the opening of the first chapter:

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.

I found it a compelling opening ... but it seemed like a sad precursor to what I imagined would be a story with a painful ending. Despite the fact that my eyes were filled with sand from the 'Sandman' and were slowly closing as they struggled to read the book's very small type, I managed to read a few pages before falling asleep. I woke up later with the bedroom light still on, tried to read more, but everything was blurry, so I gave up and went to sleep.

The first thing I did as I woke up this morning was pick up the book again. I didn't meditate or blog or do any of the usual things I normally do upon waking. It's a short book, only 180 pages long and it swept me along, captivated. I could not leave the bed until I had reached the last page. As my eyes fell on the last word, I felt myself lost in a haze. I slowly swung my feet over the side of the bed, sat up and said one word: "Wow ..."

I found it such a beautiful and compelling book that I can't put it into words. To me, it defied words and definitions - geography, gender, names of people and things disappeared to tell a Universal story that can apply to anyone who is ready for it. (Maybe if I had read it at some other time I would not have felt it). The friend who had given me the book happened to call soon after and I told her thank you and how much it had moved me. Amazingly, she had never read the book ... but I'm glad that whatever-it-was-about-it-at-that-moment had reminded her of me.

4 Comments:

Blogger susanlavonne said...

Thanks for sharing this title...it sounds ingruiging! I strolled through your gallery and reveled in your work.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Kiki said...

I have read one work by Coelho--The Alchemist. Now I'm going to go out and get this one. Thank you for sharing. K

1:28 PM  
Blogger Tim Rice said...

That sounds really neat! Isn't it interesting how these kinds of coincidences (or is it something ordained?) occurs? Your recount is touching.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello :)
I also enjoy Paulo Coelho`s books!!!!And I think you will like this one! :)
Do you know that P.Coelho has a newsletter?
http://www.warriorofthelight.com/engl/index.html
You comment with other readers your impressionscan on his blog ... it's simply wonderful!http://www.paulocoelhoblog.com
have a nice week!
Aart
http://aarthilal.blogspot.com/

3:09 AM  

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