Currently, I’m reading a mysteriously compelling book called, “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” by Paulo Coelho. I’m very close to the end, but I felt that I couldn’t continue reading past a certain point without some contemplation and writing. This is the point I got to, and here are my musings of the passage.
(The main character is a young girl, Pilar, and in this section she’s walking and speaking with a priest whom she calls padre. They are talking about the beauty of God and how you can see God in everything, particularly in the enormity of the mountains.)
Padre: “Yes. But why not be like the mountains?” (Referring to their magnificent beauty)
Pilar: “Maybe because the fate of the mountains is terrible…They are destined to look out at the same scene forever.”
Pilar: “I was studying to become a mountain. I had put everything in its proper place. I was going to take a job with the state, marry, and teach the religion of my parents to my children, even though I no longer accepted it. But now I have decided to leave that all behind me in order to be with the man I love. And it’s a good thing I decided not to be a mountain–I wouldn’t have lasted very long.”
That was me. I was learning to become a mountain…to remain in one place, with the same people and to stare out at the same scene forever. I was a mountain to a degree. Growing up, it was seldom that I experienced anything new and exciting. Actually, it was seldom that I left my house, met someone new, or even got to travel. For a while I was strangely content with it all; I had slowly and painfully accepted my fate that that’s where I was to be and that’s the lifestyle I was meant to live. My house, my parents, and a few close family members and friends were all I had. In college, I branched out substantially more and absolutely loved it…but…I knew I always was going to return to the same place: back home. Going home for a break or a holiday was something that all my friends in Clarion couldn’t wait for. I remember living in the dorm, and when a break was coming up, everyone would be scurrying about packing and chattering endlessly about how elated they were to be going home to see their parents, their siblings and their pets. For me, it was the opposite. I would be leaving freedom behind for a week of (or in the case of summer, 3 months of) restriction. I worked, went places with my parents…as such, my mother was very controlling for the duration of my stay. Once home, I had to abide by her rules. As the years passed this became harder and harder, as in college I was breaking out and becoming freer and freer. I had the room to discover myself. Yes, there were tons of mistakes, but looking back, I’m thankful for all the mistakes. There were a lot of blessings as well. Everyone goes through these types of changes, but not everyone goes through the same family dynamic.
Over a year ago, I decided to never be a mountain. It wasn’t a question anymore. I had fallen in love with Dave, and nothing my parents said or did was going to stop me. That had nothing to do with wanting to rebel, rather, it had everything to do with my happiness, strength and my overall mental health. If I had stayed home, I wouldn’t have lasted very long. I most certainly wouldn’t have had all of the amazing, astounding experiences I’ve already had with Dave, I wouldn’t have met half the incredible, influential, inspirational people that I now know, and I definitely would have had a much harder time discovering my inner self. In fact, it’d be tricky to just be myself. I’m free now. I’m finding different avenues for work, I’m continuing to learn with Dave and grow both spiritually and mentally. My life is just about where I want it. Granted, there are some things not in place yet that I would like, but I’m maintaining the patience that’s needed in order to gain what I need. Overall, I’m happier, less stressed, calmer, and brighter.
Sometimes in life you have to take what you want in order to achieve full happiness. No one can give it to you. So many people go their entire life without knowing happiness. They cling to their desperation, anger, sadness, helplessness as those are the things they know most. They feel safe and secure and sadly, have no desire to transform because that’s all they know. It’s heartbreaking to watch that process. Worst of all, those that are trapped in that vicious circle of clinging have no clue of the joy that’s beyond their self-built walls–the walls are too high–they blocked out the sun, the warmth, the vast lands to be explored.
Some of my family is still crouched behind their walls. I have torn down the walls that I was in. What does that take? It takes courage, self-reliance, positivity, strength, belief, responsibility. Yes, there’s that word again. Seems a bit odd to say, but you have to be responsible for your own bliss. Too many others are negligent, and let that fragment of themselvs slip off into darkness. Therefore, they are not responsible.
Getting to where you want to be, to not be a mountain, but a river that flows and transforms whats in its path, means not taking into account the negatives that others may say. You have to rise above, let those words of hate, doubt, prejudice, etc. roll off of you, straight through you like an apparition. You can be a river…flow in the direction of your dreams and away from harm. If an obstacle appears on your journey, you can wash over it and transform it, potentially making it whole or you can find an alternate route and drift around it safely. There’s always a way.
Don’t give up. Ever. It is guaranteed that opposition will meet you when you least expect it. But, it’s not impossible to work with what you have and create a possibility to overcome it. Once you do, or as you do, take note of what the opposition was, how you felt. What did you really feel? Did you accept or reject these feelings and why? Did you learn anything new about yourself, your surroundings, or the people you were dealing with?
Lastly, love yourself. Love every part of who you are. Love the best features of your inner and outer self, along with those that you might not think are the best. Once you come to terms with your skin and soul you’ll realize there’s a whole world out there that’s just waiting for you–and they aren’t going to be mountains either.
Spread the love, spread the joy and be the river that your soul is destined to be.
Here’s a link to the Coelho’s book: