The Zahir

If you haven’t read a Paulo Coelho novel before, approach with caution. Each and every page is filled with profound wisdom; powerful messages lay hidden between each line with the potential to turn your perception of life inside out and upside down. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact, but you simply have to be prepared for the possibility that after reading one of his works, you may get the sudden urge for drastic change.

As a devoted fan I was well aware of their power; I had read a few of his novels before, and some more than once; The Alchemist was the prime catalyst for me making some significant changes in my own life; I’ve even had his words written in ink on my skin- make of that what you will.

The point is, before I picked up The Zahir last month, I had a good idea of what to expect, and I felt that my emotional, mental and physical state was such that I would be able to handle anything he threw at me. How fucking wrong I was.

The wise are wise only because they love. And the foolish are foolish because they think they can understand love.

– Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

They say that every book crosses your palms when it’s supposed to, and for a very specific reason known only to the reader; I don’t know who said this, but they’re spot on. The parallels that I drew between this book and my life literally shook me to my core, so much so that I went days without picking it up from the coffee table for fear that some deep-lying lesson would be revealed that I wasn’t ready for; I was blindly refusing to accept the messages that were being relayed to me.

It would be unfair of me to go into the details of the book, or to describe the messages that I was receiving (or perceiving). I will say though, that it left me questioning many things about my personal journey, about myself as a person, and about the direction in which I wanted to continue. If I’m honest, it was frightening to navigate those parts of myself. It took me 3 solid weeks to finish it, and I didn’t enjoy it in the slightest. But, it was important. It was necessary for me to have read it at this point in time, of that I am certain.

On the surface at least, it appeared that the words on the page were trying to tell me something directly. Upon reflection however, through this profoundly terrifying account of love, I realised something.

It is not the purpose of a book to dictate; the purpose of a book is to reveal. 

At it’s core, a powerful book will force you to consider the journey you are on. The messages relayed will depend on the perception of the reader, and the point at which they find themselves on their path, but whatever the case, the book will always find it’s way to you at the right time, and it will serve a specific purpose.

I would best describe the 3 weeks spent ploughing through The Zahir as an incredible journey of anger, despair, joy, and confusion, right up until the end, which was as infuriating as it was downright bewildering. The fact remains that, as with each one of his masterpieces, you should indeed approach with caution; these books are not for the faint-hearted. I don’t regret picking it up, on the contrary, I’m grateful I did. As I sit and write these words in a state of exhausted reflection, I’m eternally grateful for the journey and for all that has transpired along the way.

Everything happens for a reason, and everything will transpire as it’s supposed to. Oftentimes, this message is illuminated in beauty, during synchronistic moments that warm the heart. Sometimes the message is hidden, and you have to dig the words from the earth, and keep saying them over and over in case you get lost in the darkness. Whatever the case, keep moving forward, keep carving the path that was laid out for you with passion, keep doing the things that nourish your soul, and love with all of your heart.

Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life.

– Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found In Accra