October 5, 2006

THE ZAHIR by Paulo Coelho

Finished the book around 1 am. Then the next one hour could not sleep started THE KITE RUNNER. A very good start.

The following is an excerpt which I want to share. It does not really portray the whole book but this is the best in my opinion.

A young woman with shining eyes starts telling me the story.
To begin with there was the city wall. The wall remained, but one part of it
was used to build a chapel. Many years passed, and the chapel became a
church. Another century passed, and the church became a Gothic cathedral.
The cathedral had had its moments of glory, there had been structural
problems, for a time it had been abandoned, then restoration work had
distorted the whole shape of the building but each generation
thought it had solved the problem and would rework the original
plans. Thus, in the centuries that followed, they
raised a wall here, took down a beam there, added a buttress over there,
created or bricked up stained-glass windows.

And the cathedral withstood it all.

I walk through the skeleton of the cathedral, studying
the restoration work currently being carried out: this time the
architects guarantee that they have found the perfect solution.
Everywhere there are metal supports, scaffolding, grand theories about
what to do next and some criticism about what was done in the

And suddenly, in the middle of the central nave, I
realise something very important: the cathedral is me, it is all of us.
We are all growing and changing shape, we notice certain weakness s that
need to be corrected, we don't always choose the best solution, but we
carry on regardless, trying to remain upright and decent, in order to do
honour not to the walls or the doors or the windows, but to the empty
space inside, the space where we worship and venerate what is
dearest and most important to us.

Yes, we are all cathedrals, there is no doubt about it; but what
lies in the empty space of my inner cathedral.

Esther, the Zahir.

She fills everything. She is the reason I am alive. I look
around, I prepare myself for the talk I am to give, and I understand
why I braved the snow, the traffic jams and the ice on the roads: in order
to be reminded that every day I need to rebuild myself and to accept - for
the first time in my entire existence - that I love another human being more
than I love myself.

Oh - that is how you want to show a quote. Learning - still learning.