In one of my books (The Zahir), I try to understand why people are so afraid of changing. When I was right in the middle of writing the text, I came across an odd interview with a woman who had just written a book on – guess what? – love.
The journalist asks whether the only way a human being can become happy is to find their beloved. The woman says no:
“Love changes, and nobody understands that. The idea that love leads to happiness is a modern invention, dating from the late 17th century. From that time on, people have learned to believe that love should last for ever and that marriage is the best way to exercise love. In the past there was not so much optimism about the longevity of passion.
“Romeo and Juliet isn’t a happy story, it’s a tragedy. In the last few decades, expectation has grown a lot regarding marriage being the path towards personal accomplishment. Disappointment and dissatisfaction have also grown at the same time.”
According to the magical practices of the witchdoctors in the North of Mexico, there is always an event in our lives that is responsible for our having stopped making progress. A trauma, a particularly bitter defeat, disappointment in love, even a victory that we fail to quite understand, ends up making us act cowardly and incapable of moving ahead. The witchdoctor finds and gets rid of this “accommodating point”. To do so, he has to review our life and discover where this point lies.
Because, according to the story that we were told, at a certain moment in our lives “we reach our limit”. There are no more changes to be made. We won’t grow any more. Both professionally and in love, we have reached the ideal point, and it’s best to leave things as they are. But the truth is that we can always go further. Love more, live more, risk more.
Immobility is never the best solution. Because everything around us changes (including love) and we must accompany that rhythm.
I have been married to the same person for 30 years, but methaphorically speaking, the same marriage contains several “new marriages” during our relationship. Our bodies and souls changed, and we are still togeher. If we wanted to keep on as we were in 1979, I don’t think we would have come so far.
These thoughts by Paulo Coelho very much parallel a conversation I had with my lovely friend Sian not so long ago.
I pictured two people as trajectories in time and space. When they meet, their paths literally cross. They have something in common. If their current trajectories continue they will diverge apart and eventually have nothing in common. They will only remain together if their individual trajectories change course and their trajectories then continue on a common path.
I met Sian in a Christian book shop cum tea shop. She said she had been working there for about a year, though I had never noticed her before. We got chatting and were completely absorbed in each others company and have been ever since.
What went through our individual minds and what we saw and felt I will not say. But Sian is free to make comment if she so wishes.
I have often found that people hit a brick wall in their personal development. What then happens is not that they fail to make any further progress, they die.
Synchronicity: The evening before St Valentine’s Day, I put together a little something for Sian to give to her on St Valentine’s Day. Included was The Zahir as it seemed somehow appropriate. I then sat down and clicked on these thoughts by Paul Coelho which came to him whilst writing The Zahir!