An extract from Paulo Coelho’s latest book: “Like the Flowing River – Thoughts and Reflections”.
Choose the mountain you want to climb:
Don’t be influenced
by what other people say: ‘that one’s prettier’ or ‘that one looks
easier’. You are going to put a lot of energy and enthusiasm into
achieving your objective, and you are the only person responsible for
your choice, so be quite sure about what you are doing.
Find out how to reach the mountain:
Often you can see
the mountain in the distance – beautiful, interesting and full of
challenges. However, when you try to reach it, what happens? It’s
surrounded by roads; forests lie between you and your objective; and
what seems clear on the map is far more complicated in reality. So you
must try all the paths and tracks until, one day, you find yourself
before the peak you intend to climb.
Learn from someone who has been there before:
However unique you
may think you are, there is always someone who has had the same dream
before, and who will have left signs behind that will make the climb
less arduous: the best place to attach a rope, trodden paths, branches
broken off to make it easier to pass. It is your climb and it is your
responsibility too, but never forget that other people’s experiences
are always helpful.
Dangers, seen from close to, are controllable:
When you start to
climb the mountain of your dreams, pay attention to what is around
you. There are, of course, precipices. There are almost imperceptible
cracks. There are stones polished so smooth by rain and wind that they
have become as slippery as ice. But if you know where you are putting
your foot, you will see any traps and be able to avoid them.
The landscape changes, so make the most of it:
You must, naturally,
always keep in mind your objective – reaching the top. However, as
you climb, the view changes, and there is nothing wrong with stopping
now and then to enjoy the vista. With each metre you climb, you can
see a little further, so take time to discover things you have never
Respect your body:
You will only manage
to climb a mountain if you give your body the care it deserves. You
have all the time that life gives you, so do not demand too much from
your body. If you walk too quickly, you will grow tired and give up
halfway. If you walk too slowly, night might fall and you will get
lost. Enjoy the landscape, drink the cool spring water, and eat the
fruit that Nature so generously offers you, but keep walking.
Respect your soul:
repeating, ‘I’m going to do it.’ Your soul knows this already. What it
needs to do is to use this long walk in order to grow, to reach out
as far as the horizon, to touch the sky. Obsession will not help you
in the search for your goal, and will end up spoiling the pleasure of
the climb. On the other hand, don’t keep repeating ‘It’s harder than I
thought,’ because that will sap your inner strength.
Be prepared to go the extra mile:
The distance to the
top of the mountain is always greater than you think. There is bound
to come a moment when what seemed close is still very far away. But
since you are prepared to go still further, this should not be a
Be joyful when you reach the top:
Cry, clap your
hands, shout out loud that you made it; let the wind (because it is
always windy up there) purify your mind, cool your hot, weary feet,
open your eyes, blow the dust out of your heart. What was once only a
dream, a distant vision, is now part of your life. You made it, and
that is good.
Make a promise:
Now that you have
discovered a strength you did not even know you had, tell yourself
that you will use it for the rest of your days; promise yourself, too,
to discover another mountain and set off on a new adventure.
Tell your story:
Yes, tell your
story. Be an example to others. Tell everyone that it’s possible, and
then others will find the courage to climb their own mountains.