The Witch of Portobello, by Paulo Coelho

Despite the fact that I got quite terrified reading some parts of it alone, the book is just perfectly written – yet again – by the master of writing, Paulo Coelho. Being an open-minded Muslim (Amen :P), I didn’t see this book as anything misleading or brain washing. The message was simply wider than just those religious point of views.

Compared to the world wide hit, The Alchemist, I find this book a lot more universal and a bit less personal. Another meaningful book full of enlightening answers to philosophical life questions, completed with discussions of one my most recent obsessions, the Law of Attraction (also what the book Quantum Ikhlas is all about).

When we’re interested in something, everything around us appears to refer to it (the mystics call these phenomena “signs”, the sceptics “coincidence”, and psychologist “concentrated focus”..

**

You are what you believe yourself to be. ..Don’t be like those people who believe in “positive thinking” and tell themselves that they’re loved and strong and capable. You don’t need to do that, because you know it already. And when you doubt it – which happens, I think, quite often at this stage of evolution – do as I suggested. Instead of trying to prove that you’re better than you think, just laugh. Laugh at your worries and insecurities. View your anxieties with humour. It will be difficult at first, but you’ll gradually get used to it.

**

After all, what is happiness?
Love, they tell me. But love doesn’t bring and never has brought happiness. On the contrary, it’s a constant state of anxiety, a battlefield, it’s sleepless nights, asking ourselves all the time if we’re doing the right thing. Real love is composed of ecstasy and agony..
I spent a lot of my life looking for happiness; now what I want is joy. Joy is like sex – it begins and ends. I want pleasure. I want to be contended, but happiness? I no longer fall into that trap.

**

I sought out the people I used to enjoy a drink with after work. Most of them have left, and those who have stayed complain all the time about a constant feeling of insecurity. I walked past some of my old haunts, and I felt like a stranger, as if nothing there belonged to me anymore. The worst of it was that my dream of one day returning gradually disappeared when I found myself back in the city where I was born. Even so, I needed to make that visit. The songs of exile are still there in my heart, but I know now that I’ll never again live in Lebanon. In a way, the day I spent in Beirut helped me to a better understanding of the place where I live now, and to value each second that I spend in London.

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