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Cada momento

May 8, 2008

More wise words from Paulo Coelho, this time from A bruxa de Portobello (The Witch of Portobello):

“Nosso tempo nesta terra é sagrado, e devemos celebrar cada momento.  A importância disso foi completamente esquecida:  até mesmo os feriados religiosos se transformaram em ocasiões para se ir a praia, ao parque, as estações de esqui.  Não há mais ritos.  Não se consegue mais transformar as ações ordinárias em manifestações sagradas.  Cozinhamos reclamando da perda de tempo, quando podíamos estar transformando amor em comida.  Trabalhamos achando que e uma maldição divina, quando devíamos usar nossas habilidades para nos dar prazer, e para espalhar a energia da Mãe.”

“Our time on this earth is sacred, and we must celebrate every moment.  The importance of this has been completely forgotten:  even religious holidays have become opportunities to go to the beach, to the park, to ski resorts.  There are no more rites.  Ordinary actions are no longer tranformed into sacred manifestations.  We cook complaining about the loss of time when we could be transforming love into food.  We work thinking it’s a divine curse when we should be using our abilities to bring us pleasure and to spread our Mother’s energy.”

I love this passage.  It’s the perfect response to another passage from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

“There’s this primary America of freeways and jet flights and TV and movie spectaculars.  And people caught up in this primary America seem to go through huge portions of their lives without much consciousness of what’s immediately around them.  The media have convinced them that what’s right around them is unimportant.  And that’s why they’re lonely.  You see it in their faces.  First the little flicker of searching, and then when they look at you, you’re just a kind of an object.  You don’t count.  You’re not what they’re looking for.  You’re not on TV.”

Beauty and love and pleasure are all around us – they aren’t just to be found on TV or in the movies.  They aren’t Hollywood.  Hollywood beauty and love and pleasure is fake; it doesn’t bring happiness, just cravings. 

What truly satisfies is the joy that can be taken from one’s surroundings because one’s surroundings don’t end after an hour, to be continued the following week.  Our surroundings are constant, our daily routines continuous; if we can learn to take pleasure from them – to transform them from routines into rituals – we have a steady source of satisfaction at our fingertips.  In Zen and the Art, Pirsig transforms motorcylce maintenance into an art by melding his own energy with the metal of the machine; if he were to simply go through the motions of repairing his bike without seeking any pleasure from it, it wouldn’t be an art – it would be a chore. 

I’ve learned to gain great joy from the simplest acts I perform every day:  making breakfast, watering my plants, cleaning my apartment, driving to the grocery store, chatting with a friend, cooking dinner.  There’s always an element to these acts that makes me smile inside and out:  the bakery aroma that rises from my pancakes; the ability to literally watch my plants perk up as water seeps into the soil and their roots; the knowledge that I’m taking good care of my space and belongings; the views of the farmland and ridges along South East Street; connecting with another human being; the satisfaction of combining the very ingredients of life into a savory meal.

“Live simply so others can simply live” is a favorite saying of a cheerful Louisiana man I know who now lives in West Philly.  The quote originally comes from Gandhi.  It can be hard to live up to in our high-speed, high-tech world, but those who try reap great rewards – I have, anyway.



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