The art of trying

From The Intelligent Optimist
Summer 2016

Paulo Coelho, Author of international bestsellers,  including The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist.

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 goes on trying other things.”

It is our desire to walk that creates our path. However, when we start a journey toward our dreams, we are very fearful, as if we have to do everything right. But after all, if we are to live different lives, who was the one who invented the standard of “everything right”? If God made the giraffe, the elephant and the cat, and we seek to live after his image and similarity, why do we have to follow a model? Models sometimes serve to help us avoid stupid mistakes others have made, but they are often a prison that makes us always repeat what others do.

Being coherent means to always wear the tie that goes with the socks. It means to sustain tomorrow the opinions you have today. As long as you don’t harm anyone, you can change your opinions once in a while and contradict yourself without feeling ashamed. You have the right to do this; it doesn’t matter what others think about it—they will think what they want to think.

When we decide to act, we may do some things in excess. An old culinary saying goes, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.” It is also natural that a few unexpected conflicts will arise. It is natural that a few bruises will come out of these conflicts. The bruises fade away; only the scars remain.

That’s a blessing. These scars stay with us for the rest of our lives, and they help us very much. If at some point, for laziness or any other reason, the desire to go back into the past is big, it suffices to look at them.

Scars will remind us of our past conflicts and how we overcame them, and we will keep moving forward.

So relax. Let the universe move around you, and discover the joy of being a surprise to yourself. “God chose the crazy things of the world to embarrass the wise men,” said Saint Paul.

Warriors of Light, those who traverse a path through spiritual battle, notice that certain moments happen repeatedly; they frequently go through the very same problems and live situations they’ve already faced before.

Then they feel depressed. They start to think they are unable to move forward in life, because the events of the past are happening to them again.

“I’ve been through this,” they might complain inwardly.

“You really have,” their hearts answer. “But you never overcame it.”

Warriors then start to be aware that repeated experiences have a meaning—to teach them what they haven’t learned yet. In this way, they start to try out different solutions for these recurring challenges, and their failures evolve to become not mistakes, but steps toward themselves.

On Making Mistakes

“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” —Tallulah Bankhead

“The way to succeed is to double your error rate.”
Thomas J. Watson

“As long as you haven’t known Hell, Paradise won’t be enough for you.” —Kurdish proverb

“To err is human—but it feels divine!” —Mae West

“Doing what’s right isn’t the problem. It’s knowing what’s right.” —Lyndon Johnson

“Not everything that works out right is right.”
David Capistrano

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