Sunday, 11 March 2012

Short, exclusive chapter sample - Paulo Coehlo’s latest “The Inspiring Tree”

The woman lowered her head.
“I have walked many miles to get here.  What wisdom can you offer me, oh Tree of Inspiration?”
She looked up at the tree with her beautiful, big brown eyes.  How far she had walked in these past few weeks!  Over mountains and hills so high, and across plains so flat and dry that she was sure she might die of thirst.  But the earth always provides, and in her most desperate of times she found that the dew on the leaves of the most beautiful plants gave her the moisture she required for hydration.  It had been months since she left her small hometown to find the Tree of Inspiration, and now that she had arrived at her destination she felt her heart swell to the size of a thousand stars.
“Pray, tell me your wisdom.  Inspire me with your knowledge, Tree.”
The sun beat down hard on the grass around her, but the girl was fully shaded by the large branches of the Tree of Inspiration.  She reached into the pocket of her shabby brown dress and pulled out her Rocks of Solidarity, which had been given to her by the kindly old woman at the inn at the start of her journey.  She remembered fondly how the old woman had passed the rocks on to her, with her own words of wisdom, “The heart of life is written on the wind”; and how true that was, the girl thought.  She clutched the smooth stones in her hand and pressed them tightly into her palm, wondering when the answer from the Tree would come. 
As if nature had heard her thoughts, a gentle breeze passed through the leaves and blustered around the girl, sending her hair up in waves around her, tangling it up with dead leaves and twigs. This is truly to be one with nature, she thought, plucking the leaves from her hair and wiping the dirt from her eyes.
A few moments passed and still there was no answer from the tree. 
“Oh, Tree, what wisdom have you got for me?  I have travelled a great distance to find you, and I have given up a lot to be here in front of you.”  She could feel the strength in her knees waning, and she dropped down to a kneeling position in front of the tree.  A thought occurred to her - perhaps I must ask in the form of a prayer.  Yes, that must be it!  She put her hands together and clasped the Rocks of Solidarity between her palms, then bowed her head and began to whisper.
“Dear Tree, oh mighty Tree of Infinite Inspiration and Wisdom, I pray for the Wisdom of Life; I pray for the Knowledge of Sanctity and Thoughts of Prosperity.”  Without raising her head, she became aware that the leaves above her had begun to shake, many falling on her as she knelt in front of the Tree.  This is a sign, she thought, a sign that the Tree can hear my prayer and is trying to help me.  She threw her head back, opened her eyes and spread our her arms, her shabby brown dress covered in dirt from the ground.  A caterpillar was crawling along her sleeve, but she did not notice this as she was so caught up in the moment.
“Oh Tree!  Oh Mother Nature and Father Time!  Oh opulent decadence of Earth and Sun!  Bestow upon me the lessons of life that are known only to you!”

She sat for a few moments in silence, waiting for an answer that did not appear to come.  She looked to the ground, where she had thrown down the Rocks of Solidarity, and noticed with interest how easily she had discarded them at the first sign of some divine intervention.  They now lay in the dirt, having provided her with such strength during her journey.  And then the Wisdom revealed itself to her.  The Rocks of Solidarity.  Solidarity was the answer she was looking for.  But what did it mean?
She thought back over the journey she had made over the last few weeks.  From leaving the small fishing village she grew up in, to this moment sitting in front of the Tree of Inspiration, many changes had taken place in her during the journey, and the lessons she had picked up on the way were infinite and ranging.  She reflected on this thought, and lay back in the dirt underneath the tree.  Leaves fell on her as she lay there, and she looked up at the sun shining through the branches.  The Tree surely had imparted Wisdom, and what Wisdom it was.  Everything in the world has its own place, and everything can be moved to the ends of the earth in pursuit of meaning and love.  The world turns on its own, but without the population of human beings, creatures of God and plants of Pan, would it ever turn at all?  She could never know, but she felt that she was getting closer to the answer simply by being closer to the Tree of Inspiration.  But was this the end of her adventure...or simply the beginning?

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