By the River Piedra I sat down and wept
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.