Paulo Coelho is the type of author who is referred to in professional literary terms as a "Gad-Dang Genius." He's an artistic and uncommonly wise storyteller whose writing is so mentally delicious that I am sometimes tempted to nibble the pages of his books a little bit.
Yes. I'd say that's a good introduction to Paulo Coehlo.
I have roughly 276.4 half-written posts swirling in the cauldron between my ears right now, but today I'm called to an unavoidable pile of behind-the-scenes business tasks, so, instead of waxing philosophical myself, I'm sharing a quick passage from Paulo Coehlo's "Eleven Minutes" which blew my hair back 90 degrees last night.
[Pssst. We really must discuss this book in more detail at some point. (Vlog, maybe? Group teleconference? You tell me.)]
"Eleven Minutes" is "an exploration of the potentially sacred nature of sex within the context of love." It's a story about a prostitute and it's written by a devout Catholic, which makes it all the more intriguing.
(I don't claim to know much about Catholicism, but I was under the impression that classic "Catholic Guilt" required people to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable speaking about sex.)
In fact, my own discomforts on the subject have made me wonder whether I might possibly be Catholic.
But again: the business tasks are a-callin' so I won't broach my own thoughts on sex, shame, guilt, power, love, and spirituality, today. Instead, I'm just teasing you with those tantalizing topics and leaving you with an unrelated quote about suffering.
["Foxy!" says you.]
Context of this delicious morsel of wisdom:
Years after a Brazillian woman, Maria, becomes a prostitute in Geneva, she experiences pleasure during sex for the first time...while partaking in sado-masochism with a client. Concerned for her, a friend tries to steer Maria away from S+M, but given the pleasure she experienced the previous night, she resists his advice.
[The hair-blowing power of this passage has less to do with what it says about about S+M (do what suits your fancies, friends) and more to do with the resounding truth it speaks about life.]
Here's the passage: (I added the bold formatting.)
"You experienced pain yesterday and you discovered that it led to pleasure. You experienced it today and found peace. That's why I'm telling you: don't get used to it, because it's very easy to become habituated; it's a very powerful drug. It's in our daily lives, in our hidden suffering, in the sacrifices we make, blaming love for the destruction of our dreams. Pain is frightening when it shows its real face, but it's seductive when it comes disguised as sacrifice or self-denial. Or cowardice. However much we may reject it, we human beings always find a way of being with pain, of flirting with it and making it part of our lives."
"I don't believe that. No one wants to suffer."
"If you think you can live without suffering, that's a great step forward, but don't imagine that other people will understand you. True, no one wants to suffer, and yet nearly everyone seeks out pain and sacrifice, and then they feel justified, pure, deserving of the respect of their children, husbands, neighbors, God. Don't let's think about that now; all you need to know is that what makes the world go round is not the search for pleasure, but the renunciation of all that is important.
"Does a soldier go to war in order to kill the enemy? No, he goes in order to die for his country. Does a wife want to show her husband how happy she is? No, she wants him to see how devoted she is, how she suffers in order to make him happy. Does the husband go to work thinking he will find personal fulfillment there? No, he is giving the sweat and tears for the good of the family. And so it goes on: sons give up their dreams to please their parents; parents give up their lives in order to please their children; pain and suffering are used to justify the one thing that should bring only joy: love." (Click to tweet.)
Holy shift in perspective.
Holy "AH-HA" moment.
This ties directly into my previous post, where I was talking about soft addictions, and wondering why it's so hard to break bad habits.
We trap ourselves in activities that we know are not good for ourselves so that we can use pain and sacrifice to JUSTIFY the love and respect we receive from family, friends, and God.
We do that because we've forgotten that we are INHERENTLY good and deserving. We don't need to DO anything to deserve these things.
Gad-dang genius, no?
Any thoughts on this post? I love to hear from you! :)