Tag: Teachings

Book Review: Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho

Manuscript Accra Coelho

Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho

As part of my goal of a more frugal, intentional lifestyle meets my love of reading, I’ve been known to hang out at the municipal library. A lot. In the last year, I’ve read a lot of light, fun novels but I’ve also started to return to Paulo Coelho, and other more philosophical reads or non-fiction with a personal development twist.

I used to love EVERYTHING Coelho published, until I didn’t. After The Witch of Portobello, I took a break. I didn’t feel compelled by the writing anymore so I knew that I needed to step back. Sometimes, authors go through phases, but so do readers, even the die hard fans.

When I got back to his work, I decided to read Brida, which was a contemporary story about a young Irish woman who wished to reconnect with witchcraft. It was a beautiful story that flirted with some New Age concepts such as Twin Flames. Coelho is fascinated with mystique, spirituality (The Alchemist), the history of religions, human nature (By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, Veronika Decides to Die, Eleven Minutes) and relationships (Love: Selected Quotations, The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession, Adultery). He also seems to be drawn to matters relating to lightwork and purpose, as he’s more obviously expressed in works like The Warrior of the Light. Essentially, his books, whether they’re fiction or based on facts, are about the journeys we make and how those journeys influence our lives.

Book Review: The Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho

The Manuscript Found in Accra is one of those books based on fact. Coelho brings to life the reality of people in Jerusalem, on July 14, 1099. The city is waiting for the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the gates. Inside the ancient city walls, the people have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. They ask him questions in the hopes he’ll share his wisdom about life.

Although this is not written in poetry but in prose, the structure reminds me of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. In his poem, Gibran tackles complex topics in simple terms. Coelho achieves the same thing with similar complex subjects that have puzzled humankind for centuries. They both speak of love, success, work and family. Both books share a teacher to student interaction, speak to crowd, wise to curious. They share the quality of easily being referenced beyond their initial read. I’m sure that if we compared them more carefully, we’d find even more similarities. Both narratives begin with a wise man leaving his legacy to a village before an end; in one case, the prophet departs while in the other, the city will be under siege. The other difference is that Gibran’s work is his perspective on life and spirituality presented in the form of fiction, while Coelho’s work is about a historical event, interpreted.

As I remind myself that nuggets from Coelho’s Manuscript Found in Accra came from an ancient document, I’m impressed with the relatability of the discussions and concerns. Many of the observations made are still applicable today! It reminds me that there has always been hope for the awakening of our collective consciousness but that through history, our metaphors evolved and slowly but surely, more of us now wish to lead conscious lives.

We seek to reconnect with our true natures, we often look for a godly presence in our lives or wish to find the sacred. We yearn for harmony, we wander looking for purpose and we crave meaning.

What books have led you to reflect on human nature, purpose and spirituality?

Childhood Lesson 2.0

When I was thinking about the practice of breaking patterns, I thought of something that often happens when there’s a breakthrough; there’s a shift. Something that kept happening in a loop, perhaps “à la soupe du jour” but a soup nonetheless, suddenly has a different outcome.

Life lessons sometimes come back to check on you. They swing by to allow us to integrate the lesson from a different perspective.  To show us that we’ve grown, we’ve learned or that we’ve rediscovered something about ourselves we thought we’d lost or had simply forgotten about.

A childhood lesson of mine visited to see how I’d handle “speaking up” situation.

Rachellepost Speak even when I was working on a project and the person who was overseeing it made a decision impacting me that surprised me. And not the good kind. I felt punished, treated unfairly and didn’t understand why the event was happening to me or why this person had made the decision they made. I’d even wondered how I’d done them wrong and started taking their decision personally.

I came home ranting that day. My partner and my mom both expressed sympathy but they both, in their way, asked if I had a say in the decision that had been imposed upon me. I told them it’d been imposed on me and I thought I hadn’t had the “opportunity” to say anything, realistically.

Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. I sat with this.

The following day, I brought my concerns to this person and shared my feelings of disappointment in their decision. I tried to negotiate.  At first, it seemed my arguments were not going to provide resolution or change this person’s mind, but at least, I knew that I had spoken my peace. Later that day, this person returned to see me and told me that someone else* had raised the same concern I had, and since we were of the same mind, the person overseeing the project had decided the decision had a broader impact than what was originally considered. And the strangest thing happened: the person changed their mind (in my favour!).

I felt my faith in people being restored. I felt there was justice. I felt supported. Surely enough, I expressed my sincere gratitude to both persons (the supporter and the decision-maker).

When I came home, feeling victorious and fortunate, I happened to share this outcome with my mom, who reminded me of a lesson I learned in kindergarten.

True Colours…

As we all sat around in class learning our colours, we were being asked to name the colour to which the teacher was pointing. I was named in no particular order and out of surprise, I blurted out the wrong colour: “Brown!” (it was grey). My teacher immediately moved on to another student, although she’d given everyone else a second chance. I came home feeling defeated and down on myself. I was five and I was a failure! “Mom, I am stupid, I don’t know my colours!”

my-right-brain-is-cartoon_finalAfter some coaxing, my mom got the story out of me. I made a mistake and I didn’t get the same chance as everyone else. I experienced a small-time injustice. My mom proceeded to show me, through an exercise, that I did in fact know my colours (in English and French!). She restored part of my self-confidence. She calmed me down and asked me how I thought I could resolve this with my teacher. We concluded that I needed to explain how what happened made me feel. I was so scared!

The next day, I went to school and I asked my teacher if I could speak with her at recess (picture a tiny 5-year old asking to speak with you with a solemn look on her face and a crimped side ponytail – that was often my look back then). I took deep breaths and I explained that I knew I’d made a mistake but I felt like I didn’t get the same chance everyone else did. She hadn’t realized what she did or that it had hurt my feelings. She was so surprised that I didn’t get it the first time – me being a model student – that she moved on. She didn’t even realize that she took a chance away from me by doing so. Her expectation of my usual abilities and my experience of the situation were worlds apart.


Let the sass roll off your back!

My teacher apologized for treating me differently and for hurting my feelings (which caused me to question my abilities). Fortunately, she wasn’t an ego-driven adult and she loved her teaching job. In other words, she was receptive. She told my mother she was impressed with my judgment, my communication and my courage. Who knew?

Years later, as a twenty-something adult, the childhood lesson paid me a visit because I’d had my abilities questioned and I’d been treated unfairly. Along the way though, I’d lost faith in finding people like my kindergarten teacher. I’d lost faith there was someone brave inside my shell who believed in speaking up. I’m happy life’s proven me wrong. There are people who listen and I am brave.  So are you.

be braveHow have you shown courage?
Have you spoken your truth lately?

*I’m underlining here that the belief I now hold about support is taking shape. See my earlier post on Manifesting.

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)