First, I love this book. I love how simple it is, but so deep and detailed. I will break down the sections for you:
Intro: The part simply tells the plot of the story. A man, The Copt, is a traveler of all the lands. They are all in Jerusalem and are about to be attacked, and they know they will lose. The Copt, doesn't care about this, but wants to share the story of how these people lived and what they learned to live, no matter where they end up. “They can destroy the city, but they can not destroy everything the city has taught us”. So they set up a meeting with 3 patriarchs of the 3 religions that have settled in Jerusalem. These sections are of a single idea in each.
Defeat: "Does a leaf, when it falls from the tree in winter, feel defeated by the cold?" I love talking and thinking about defeat. "There is only movement in the world. Not victory or defeat, only stages." This section is all about determination and never quitting. Don’t give up. You’ll go through hardships, don’t blame anyone for your problems. Take ownership, learn from it, and move on. It will pass. One has not lived, or know what it is to feel, if they have never been defeated. I feel sorry for those. "Scars speak more loudly than the sword that caused them". When a human heart understands this, it is free and able to accept difficult times without being deceived by moments of glory. Cherish the defeat, it is within this, on how we grow. You're not learning, unless you are falling down, you are only sailing smoothly.
The Defeated Ones: These people are the ones who never fail, never learned to live. If you have failed, only then, you understand the glory of success. There are these people out there, who has never been defeated, and they are the ones who have never fought. They are the ones who think they are invulnerable, their eyes are closed to the injustices in the world, and they make excuses pretending they have lived. "In the silence of the night, they fight their imaginary battles: their unrealized dreams, the injustices to which they turned a blind eye, the moments of cowardice they managed to conceal from other people." " Woe to those who were never beaten! They will never be winners in this life."
Solitude: This is one of my favorites. I cherish solitude, more than others. It's in these moments, I really find myself. I can get answers to my questions, and make sure I am doing the right thing, along with the things that make me happy. I am making sure all the people in my life, are ones who serve me, and that is not selfish, but necessity. If you are not serving someone in their life, it is pointless to be apart of it. I try to make sure everyone's life that I am in, I serve them. "Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life." Do not fear your solitude, embrace it. When someone states that they have had zero opportunities, one is simply sinking into their "well of their own limitations". For those who are scared of being alone, remember, some of the most important moments in life, you will be alone. "When we find ourselves face-to-face with that Unwanted Visitor, Death: we will all be alone at that most important and most feared moment of our existence."
The Useless: This is a very important chapter in ones confidence. I feel in the modern day and age, we, as a society, struggle with this one in the mass form. With social media and the ability to see what everyone is doing, it's easy to get down on yourself because you are not living the life of a friend. Remember, social media is only a screenshot of ones life. Many look happy and they are doing the finest of things, but in reality, the opposite is true. Why does it matter what others think of what your life looks like, does that actually make you happy? Does that make you, who you are? No. Do what makes you happy, and forget the image. It's then you will find true happiness and opportunity. "Don’t try to be useful. Try to be yourself; that is enough, and that makes all the difference". Walk in your own footsteps, do not follow the tracks of others, it may lead to an empty pit. Also, avoid criticizing others, let them lead their path.
Change: I do know that change is hard, but if you look everywhere around us, change is good. It allows the earth to rid of the dust, when it rains, mountains are made from earthquakes, and canyons are made from wind. Be like nature and change. "The Unwanted Visitor visits those who don’t change and those who do. But those who did change can say: “My life was an interesting one. I didn’t squander my blessing.” And to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say, try routine; that kills you far more quickly.
Beauty: This is a great topic as well. I like that he discusses that the normal saying is life is that beauty is on the inside, and that is false. Beauty IS on the inside, but it is shown through on the outside as well. In reflection with nature, why do you think flowers are beautiful, to attract the bees. Nature longs to be beautiful. We all try to be what others believe as pretty, but slowly, your soul will fade, and you are not you anymore. Being influenced but what others think, has made us shamed to be ourselves. Then the beauty cannot exist. If you do not love yourself, you cannot truly love another. Find passion in what you do and who you are, then you will be beautiful.
Direction: Paulo breaks questions on direction to three categories. You can look at direction as "What is the meaning of life?" Ones who brush direction aside. They never question it, and when death comes, they will complain they didn't have enough time. Ones will embrace an the answer, they will study texts, find one that suits their thoughts, and become a slave to it. This is where laws are made, the idea is forced upon others, and the courts make their decisions. And finally, ones who believe the question is a trap. These people go back to their childhood, and look at what filled with with all the joy in the world. They will discard advice from elders, and devote their life to it. "Enthusiasm is a sacred fire. " Be Enthusiastic.
Love: "Love is free. You cannot seduce love through words and smiles". I relate to this section. I tell people I love them all too often. When the fact is, I do. "Life is too short for us to keep important words like “I love you” locked in our hearts." I love the imagery used in this book. Simply about a rose, If a rose was to close their petals in giving up, waiting for love, there is no opportunity for a bee to come and pursue that flower. Be open and accepting of love when it comes your way.
Moments: This is one of my favorite sections. I practice this on a daily basis. Well, I try to. I wrote about a bar of soap once. "Rencounter emotions worn smooth by routine". We take for granted so much of the simple things we get to experience each day. Look at a child, who is excited over a balloon, or one piece of candy. One piece. Why can't we be that excited for anything as we grow old? The fact is, we can. We need to open our eyes and hearts to the world. This is why I wrote about the bar of soap. It something so simple, we use everyday. But think of the history of that soap, there used to be soap makers. It's a craft, It's an art, a passion. The shape, the feel, the packaging it came in. It's magical. Open your eyes, slow down, and embrace the beauty instead of walking by with your head in your cell phone.
Sex: There is sex, and there is pleasure. Work on sex. Surrender yourself to your partner. And don't worry, relaxation and tension go hand in hand. Embrace the tension. Give, but don't give too much, it may destroy your own pleasure. "See sex as a gift, a ritual of transformation. And as in any ritual, ecstasy will be present to glorify the end, but it is not the sole objective. What matters is that we have traveled a road with our partner that led us into unknown territory, where we encountered gold and incense and myrrh."
Friendships: I really get the feels when Paulo talks about the respecting the freedom of a friend. When you make a mistake in life and have learned from it, do not force your friend to not ever make that same mistake. Simple speak to them about your lesson learned, and let them make their own decision based off that. Nothing is more powerful than that. Be a teacher, and learn. Never try to please everyone. Everyone must learn to embrace our differences. "Friendship is like a river, it flows around rocks, adapts itself to valleys and mountains, occasionally turns into a pool until the hollow in the ground is gull and it can continue on its way."
Elegance: I love this one and is very similar to beauty. Elegance is not superficial or merely your appearance, it is also a inner quality, that can be seen on the outside. It is the language of the world. I have a problem of saying "romance" about situations. But it's because I see "romance" in a lot of things. I am trying to observe and see the beauty in the world, in all forms. Simplicity is the key to elegance and to beauty. Do not try to be more than you are. This makes you ugly. This makes you less confident, because you are not being true to oneself. "Arrogance attracts hated and envy. Elegance arouses respect and love."
Work: I appreciate the direction here. Simply explained there are two directions you take do in life. Pour your heart into what you can do, or sell yourself for a paycheck. When cooking, you can pour your love into every ingredient, or you can cook to feed you belly, you choose. "Fate is never unfair to anyone. We are all free to hate or love what we do. Love what you do.". This is all part of being yourself. You can truly love what you do, when you are being yourself. You cannot love what you do, when you are not yourself.
Luck: I agree with the path Paulo took here. Luck is truly based on the effort you put into something. Someday the dice will roll in your favor, and the other days, it will not. Thats all part of the learning process. But you can attribute luck or success to effort. You must make decisions and keep your values intact while you put your hard work in. People make things look lucky, when they pour their heart into it. Example used is an acrobat that flies through the sky, it looks so effortless. And we start and say, wow, they are lucky they can do that. What we don't see, is the years of effort and training to get to that one very moment. Cherish the moments leading up to the luck, patience is the key.
Miracles: This section didn't talk too in depth about miracles, simply defined that a miracle is when something that seems impossible, becomes true. I believe this is when the luck happens, but not giving up is the key factor is this. Learn to never give up.
Anxiety: I was very anxious (HA) to get into this section to see what it was all about. He explains anxiety as a natural factor of life and that there is nothing wrong with it. The hit home for me, was when he states that anxiety is the human condition, for it you want to receive the thing was have been waiting for as quickly as possible. Knowing this, helped put me at ease in a sense. Knowing that patience again is the key here. Embrace the moments. I realize it is very hard to do. When going through my struggles with migraine, how do you embrace the moments of pain and not feeling like yourself. Knowing it will pass helps, but then you question whether it ever will. I am still working this one out. You will never master anxiety, but it is something you will have to learn to live with. Try not to let it enslave you.
Future: Know that the unwanted visitor is the only thing certain in the future. Make sure you love. Make sure when that time comes, you can state that you did give enough love. Struggling is a must, this helps you grow, knowledge of the unwanted visitor is a must, this helps you appreciate what you have. When going through a difficult time, remember you have survived, and you are here. " The adventure of the days to come needs to be filled with romance, because the world needs that; therefore, when you are mounted on your horse, feel the wind on your face and enjoy the sense of freedom. But don’t forget that you have a long journey ahead. If you surrender totally to the romance of it all, you might fall. If you don’t stop occasionally to let both you and your horse rest, your horse might die of thirst or exhaustion. Listen to the wind, but don’t forget about your horse."
Loyalty: I like and do practice the approach here. When loyalty is broken, sweep the pieces under the rug, and move on. Do not hold guilt. You can't change the past and need to make the most out of what is in front of you. Don't waste your time on the drama and slandering of another. Karma comes back around and will come crawling back. Failure is how one learns. The language of the world will take care of it. It always washes out the bad ones. " Life is fragile, once you realize our differences, you will understand"
Weapons When All is Lost: Be wise in all your decisions. Don't try to force anything, do not try to overpower. "When a wise man wants to make someone weak, he makes himself strong". Illusion is the best tool. Loyalty will always win. Loyalty cannot be won via force, fear, insecurity, or intimidation. You will never earn true respect that way. Build your life on understanding. "The most destructive of weapons is not the spear or the siege cannon, which can wound a body and demolish a wall. The most terrible of all weapons is the word, which can ruin a life without leaving a trace of blood, and whose wounds never heal. Let us, then, be masters of our tongue and not slaves of our words. Even if words are used against us, let us not enter a battle that cannot be won. The moment we place ourselves on the same level as some vile adversary, we will be fighting in the dark, and the only winner will be the Lord of Darkness."
Enemies: "Pity the ones who think that they must kill or die. Todays loser, will be tomorrows winner. Combat must be fought with honor" The weak gang up on the "losers". Hold tight and the hyenas will soon pass. I like the thoughts here. I struggled with confrontation in my past. It's good to have opposing views. It's how you make the process better. Speak those out with true friends. These are the ones who will not feel like an enemy because you don't agree, but have deep conversations about these ideas. I always thought because I didn't agree with a thought or idea, it would be taken in the wrong manner. Basically stating that since our views aren't the same, I think you suck, to be blunt. But this isn't the case. People take kindly to criticism when they are strong. They fight back, when they are weak. Your real enemies are the ones standing next to you, with a dagger behind their back.
"Don’t only help a beloved friend when they are at the limit. You need to help your brother, before they need you too. Be in the knowledge. Therefore, scatter your seed wherever you go, because we can never know which seeds will grow and flourish and enlighten the next generation.
Go in peace. "