The art of trying

Trust the universe, and look forward to surprising yourself.
Paulo Coelho | December 2011 Issue
Pablo Picasso once said, “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things.”
When we start working on our dreams, we always feel afraid. We wonder if there are rules to follow. Who comes up with these rules, while we all live such different lives? If God created the giraffe, the elephant and the cat, and we try to learn from his example, then why would we try to follow one rule or another?
Sometimes rules help us avoid the mistakes others have made before our time, but more often than not a rule will only make us repeat what someone else has already done.
The person who follows all the rules wears a tie that matches his socks and holds opinions today that will be the same tomorrow. How can the world stay in motion that way?
“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner,” the actress Tallulah Bankhead once said. If you are not hurting anyone, try changing your mind; have a different opinion and don’t feel ashamed of it. That is your right. What others may or may not think is irrelevant because they will have their opinions anyway.
Once we decide to take action, everything starts going wrong. It becomes important to remember the saying: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Unforeseen conflicts will arise; you might get wounded. But wounds heal, and only scars remain.
That is a blessing. Scars don’t go away. They are a big source of support in our lives. If we ever feel like going back to the past, all we have to do is look at our scars. A scar can tell the story of where the handcuffs were and remind us about the horrors of prison life… thus we refrain from turning around. Instead, we carry on.
Rest assured. Trust the universe, and look forward to surprising yourself. The apostle Paul said, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” The wise know some actions repeat themselves. They regularly encounter the same problems and situations they have dealt with before. Knowing that makes them sad. They start to think they’ll never be able to grow, since whatever they experienced before is happening again.
“I’ve already been through this,” they complain to their hearts.
“That may be true,” their hearts reply, “but you haven’t mastered it yet.”
The wise understand that repetition has a cause: to teach the lesson that still needs teaching. Repetitive situations require different solutions every time. The one who fails must not see this as a mistake, but rather as a step toward greater self knowledge.
It’s like Thomas Watson said, “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.”
Paulo Coelho is the Brazilian author of international bestsellers, including The ­Alchemist.
Photo: Aaron Sarauer via Flickr

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