Issue nº 235

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The Arrival

The Arrival

The arrival, the difficult arrival. When we don’t walk very far, we want to go right back home. When we walk greater lengths; we feel a strong urge to keep on the road until we are overtaken by tiredness.

On the plane back to Brazil, I kept thinking only on absurd things: one of them was about my luggage. During these 90 days of travel, celebrating the 20 years of my pilgrimage through the Saint James’ Path, I packed 44 times. And I unpacked just as much, meaning that I looked into my suitcases, mulling over its contents a total of 88 times.

Sure, there must have been more interesting things to think about, but my heart is empty.

My heart is completely empty now when I look at Copacabana Beach. The only thing I am able to contemplate is my homeland, the ocean, listening to people speaking Portuguese and be happy to be stepping on the ground where I was born. At the same time, I let myself be taken by this mysterious sensation of being a stranger to myself.

“That’s bad,” one part of my brain told myself.

I replied to myself that it is great. Only truly vacant hearts can be filled with new things. And after this entire route took me through four continents, the fact that I kept thinking only of how many times I packed and unpacked my luggage isn’t exactly something I would consider to be a problem. My heart will be filled with everything I have experienced; but for that to happen I need time and I do not intend to speed up the process.

When I finished the Saint James’ Path in 1986, I stayed for six months in Madrid, having the same sensation. I am used to it and it doesn’t scare me, because I know that at some point I will understand what I have just experienced. That is a decision I took at a certain moment in my life and on which I shall bet everything: the answers will come up as I get on believing that nothing happens by chance, that everything has a meaning.

Every philosophy student knows the skepticism found in the work of the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Few know of a short excerpt from “The Words”:

“I needed God. He was given to me and I received Him without entirely comprehending what I was seeking. Then – because my heart didn’t let Him set roots there- God ended up dying inside me. Today, when people mention Him, I say – like an old man trying to revive an old flame, ‘Fifty years ago, if there wasn’t a misunderstanding, if there weren’t certain mistakes, if there wasn’t the accident that separated us, both of us would have had a beautiful love story.’”

At this moment, I am having a love affair with Divinity.

Issue nº 235
Agenda: if you want to know where Paulo Coelho will be this month, please click here