|Hope born of distress by Solange Noir|
Anyhow, where we were? What were the three things? Well. Nothing dramatic really.
No big fat publishing deal for my Samael.
No great reveal from my husband.
Sorry, Ashen. J
First up was an email from my dear friend, my soul-sister, Soli. She sent me an image. She knows that, while I am no artist, images sing to my soul. When I write I hear the words in images. As well as scent, of course.
And she said, ‘Read The Zahir.’
And first I thought Borges, a vague memory of a story. But then I realised she meant Paulo Coelho. Oh, I thought. I’d read a lot of his books many years back. I’d liked them but they hadn’t really ‘stuck’. In fact, when I perused my shelves, I realised I’d given them all away. And I’d stopped reading any new ones. I think I felt he’d gone the way of so many ‘spiritual’ writers, believing his hype maybe?
‘I think I’ve already read it,’ I said. And put it out of my mind.
Except it wouldn’t go. So I Googled it. A story about a man whose wife vanishes one day. He starts to obsess over their relationship, over her. She becomes the one unforgettable thing, the Zahir. And while he’s in the grip of the Zahir, he can achieve nothing, he cannot move forwards. So he seeks her.
It sounded atrocious. And the reviews were…awful. Yet, still, it resonated, of course it did, for, as you know, I have been in the grip of my own Zahir, a pilgrim on a strange, obsessive journey, a seeking, a hunt. And Soli had been so sure.
I bought it.
Interesting book. Coelho says of his writing that he is effectively just the typist; that the stories just come through him. Or rather the protagonist in his book says that but, given he’s a barely fictionalised version of Coelho, it’s neither here or there. He’s not a sympathetic character at all – arrogant and self-centred. And the book doesn’t really hang together all too well. And some of his ‘lessons’ sound trite and pat. But still. Not all. Not all at all.
It’s a book about love. Not just personal love but the energy of Love and about how it needs to be allowed to flow through the world once more. About an underground tribe of people who are spreading ideas of freedom, of change, encouraging the circulation of love. Not soppy love but pure, hard as diamond, true Love. The love that comes out of war, out of looking death in the eye. And, he says…’If just one person changes, the whole world changes.’ And it can. Think about the good old ‘butterfly effect’ – tiny tiny shifts can affect startling change.
And I think again about love, here and now, on this day dedicated to ‘love’, that should be a celebration of wild hearts but all too often becomes all about trying to ‘fix’ love. And you can’t fix love.
As Coelho says: ‘Love is untamed force, when we try to control it, it destroys us, when we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.’
And again. ‘The important things always stay. What we lose are the things we thought were important but which are, in fact, useless, like the false power we use to control the energy of love.’
Love (as in romantic love) is beautiful, blissful, entrancing. It can also be torment, agony, anguish and pain. And love changes. From moment to moment. From nano-second to nano-second. You cannot put it in aspic, you cannot chain it, you cannot say it must be like this, just like this, forever and ever. Amen. Some loves stay, some don’t. Most change, transform, shift. For better or for worse. And you have to ride that, you have to let it flow.
But, of course, our human loves are only the faintest shadow of the great big huge LOVE that lies beyond. And that Love does not change or shift or change in any way.
Open your heart wide wide open. Truly, it’s the only way to live.
And then, I read Borges again... and this is how it ends...
"According to Idealist doctrine the verbs “to live” and “to dream” are rigorously synonymous; as for me, thousands of appearances will become one; a very complex dream into a simple one. Others will dream that I am mad, while I dream of the Zahir. When every person on earth thinks, day and night, of the Zahir, which will be dream and which reality, the earth or the Zahir?
In the deserted hours of the night I am still able to walk through the streets. Dawn often surprises me upon a bench in the Plaza Garay, thinking (or trying to think) about that passage in the Asrar Nama where it is said that the Zahir is the shadow of the Rose and the rending of the Veil. I link that pronouncement to this fact: In order to lose themselves in God, the Sufis repeat their own name or the ninety-nine names of God until the names mean nothing anymore. I long to travel that path.
Perhaps I will succeed in wearing away the Zahir by thinking and re-thinking about it; perhaps behind the coin is God."