Like the flowing river - Book Review

Among the books that are collective thoughts and reflections of author Paulo Coelho, I believe Like The Flowing River is the easiest to read. Bonus, I love the preface of the book. It is encouraging words for those who aspire to be a writer. The short stories written in the book are memories of the author himself, occurred on his path to becoming a writer. In his book Manual of the Warrior of Light, he mentioned:

All the world's roads lead to the heart of the warrior ...

Paulo Coelho didn’t start out as a writer right away. He knew from the start, however, that he always wanted to be a writer. But before that, he had been a lyrics writer, a journalist, etc which enabled him to travel around the world, enriching his life experiences. Because of his living experiences, we now have good books to indulge ourselves in. Yay!

Like The Flowing River, a 230-pages book, comprises of 102 thoughts and reflections of the author’s life. From reading these, you learn about all sorts of things. For instance, how you should travel, how you should approach learning, feminism, what it is like to living out your dream, how to treat people, how to confront hostility, etc. They are all little things that we encounter in our daily life. Hence, I ensure you will find this book worthy of your time.

My most loved thoughts and reflections from Like The Flowing River

A Day at the Mill

The “movements” of everyday life: “a lot of people”, “a few people”, and “almost no one”. I love his comparison about these moments we all share in life. “A lot of people”, obviously, is when you are surrounded by many. “A few people” is when you are gathered occasionally with few closed friends or family. And “almost no one” is when you are completely by yourself, disconnected, without a single care of what is going on in the world. For some of us, we all have these “movements” throughout a single day. Say, going to work for 8 hours is “a lot of people”, go home to family after work is ” a few people”. Lastly, in the middle of the night, when you are by yourself doing whatever you want to do, is “almost no one”.

For others, each of these “movements” can last much longer than my mentioned description of a single day. I assume this is why sometimes our life seems so exciting, and other times so dull, or even lonely. But they bear their own meanings to our existence. I’m currently in “almost no one” movement. Where are you now?

The importance of degree

Speaking of getting or not getting a degree, especially in eastern culture, sounds like a taboo. As I see in western culture, though the thinking is not complete yet, a degree is still an option, treated as a tool for employment. However, especially in Asian countries, a degree symbolises social status, in addition to being a tool for employment. Thus, it is difficult to challenge this status quo. But I personally know friends, including myself, who have decided not to get a degree. (Yes, I dropped out twice, two universities, both at senior year, and 1 year away from graduating. I will tell you my story in another post then.) Usually out of the reason that they have already found out what they want to do with their life, and that doesn’t require a degree. A single line from Like The Flowing River settles this issue: “Doctors, engineers, scientists, and lawyers need to go to university, but does everyone?”

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less travelled by, - And that has made all the difference. (Robert Frost)
Statutes for the New Millennium

I believe 16 things listed in this article are all important to contemplate. For example:

4. Each human being was given a virtue: the ability to choose. Anyone who fails to use this virtue transforms it into a curse, and others will choose for them.
9. Every human being should know two languages: the language of society and the language of signs. One serves to communicate with other people, the other serves to understand God's messages.
13. All religions lead to the same God, and all deserve the same respect. Anyone who chooses a religion is also choosing a collective way of worshipping and sharing the mysteries. Nevertheless, that person is the only one responsible for his or her actions along the way and has no right to shift responsibility for any personal decisions on to that religions.

For number 13, as I read it in 2017, with the conflicts of religions take place all over world, I do hope those who abide by any religion, and those who object the religions will see what religions truly are. Only then will we be able to stop the prejudices that cause too much violence in our world.

Travelling differently

How to travel properly in the author’s opinion? Well, you should hang out in bars, avoid museums, try to travel alone, don’t compare places, don’t buy too much, don’t rush the travel, etc. I applied some of his 9 advice on travelling to my trip to Thailand and they worked out perfectly. Firstly, I went alone as a 20s-something female, which is also my first time going solo. I did a lot of research on how to move around Bangkok, what to avoid, what to do etc. And on the first day arriving in the city, I felt both nervous and excited. But I survived and enjoyed greatly during the trip. I didn’t go to must-visit locations like pagodas or museums, not spending too much there though.

Later I was accompanied with another travel mate and I remained open to my friend’s suggestions of places. I took note that Thailand was different from Vietnam (Thai bikers don’t use horn, Vietnamese honk all day long), but I didn’t judge. Most of the time I wandered the streets of Bangkok and strangely felt no urge to be elsewhere or do better things. But I did buy a lot of books. So I didn’t apply author’s advice number 7. Bonus, I was reading Like The Flowing River during this trip also.

These are my favourite ones from Like The Flowing River. Now it is your turn to tell me what have you learned from this book. Did you apply any of these and how did it work out for you? Love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.