For people with a mystical bent or open mind, Paulo Coelho‘s The Valkryies illustrates Csikszentimihaly‘s notion of negotiating the fit between oneself and the environment. Without spoiling the read, I’ve extracted some passages to show the process of remaining engaged with the world around us while we deal with the immediate pressures of life, of overcoming self-doubt, and then of moving forwards taking our cues from the place we are in. Paulo Coelho also has a blog with a daily message here.
Look to the horizon
“Okay,” . . . : I’m going to tell you what it is I wanted you to notice: All the people who passed by in the street were looking down.” (p. 37)
“All of us create a kind of ‘magic space’ around us. Usually it’s a circle of about fifteen-foot radius, and we pay attention to what goes on within it. It doesn’t matter whether it is people, tables, telephone, or windows; we try to maintain control over that small world that we, ourselves, create.” (p. 38)
“Sit down, close your eyes, and I will show you what the second mind is,” . . . (p. 28)
“No, no. I want to know whether you’re thinking about something else. Something beyond your control.” (p. 30)
“A melody,” . . . “I’ve been singing this melody to myself ever since I heard it yesterday on the radio on our way here.” (p. 30)
“That is the second mind,” . . . “It’s your second mind that’s humming the song. It can do that with anything. . . . But the second mind is a tough thing to deal with. It’s a work regardless of whether you want it to be.” (p. 30)
“She had two minds. Functioning at the same time.” (p. 31)
“In order to penetrate the invisible world and develop your powers, you have to live in the present, the here and now. In order to live in the present, you have to control your second mind. And look at the horizon.” (p. 32).
“Gene asked her to concentrate on the melody that she had been humming. . . . Chris concentrated. In a few moments, the melody disappeared. She was now completely alert, listening to Gene’s words.” (p. 33)
“Don’t fight your thoughts. . . . Think about what they want you to think about until they grow tired.” (p. 76)
“Be patient, and listen to everything your second mind has to say. Don’t respond. Don’t argue. It will get tired.” (p. 79).
“Open the channel. Begin to speak.” (p. 87)
“What will vanish is the idea that the mountains I have conquered are too small. I will be able to keep alive my love for what I have accomplished.” (p. 98)
Pact with defeat
“I am talking about your pact with defeat”
“We have a contract, you and I: not to win when victory is possible.”
“I have never made any such pact.”
“Everyone has. At some point in our lives. we all enter in to such agreement. That’s why there is an angel with a burning sword at the gates to paradise. To allow entry only to those who have broken that pact.” (p. 112)
“From the moment that you set foot outside,” . . . “promise, in the name of archangel Michael, never again – never again – will you raise your hand against yourself.”
“You will still have many problems in your life, some of them normal, some of them difficult. But, from now on, only God’s hand will be responsible for everything – you will interfere no more.” (p. 133).
“God has the right to destroy me. I do not.” (p. 135)
“He thought of the books he had written, and he was happy. The year would end without any problems – because the pact had been broken. There was no doubt that problems would arise in his work,in love, and along the path to magic – serious problems or passing problems . . . But from now on, he would battle side by side with his guardian angel.” (pp. 135-136)
“God is love, generosity and forgiveness; if we believe in this, we will never allow our weaknesses to paralyse us.” (p. 245)
“Our defects, our dangerous depths, our suppressed hatreds, our moments of weakness and desperation – all are unimportant. If what we want to do is heal ourselves first, so that then we can go in search of our dreams, we will never reach paradise. If, on the other hand, we accept all that is wrong about us – and despite it, believe that we are deserving of a happy life – then we will have thrown open an immense window that will allow Love to enter. Little by little, our defects will disappear, because one who is happy can look at the world only with love – the force that regenerates everything that exists in the Universe.” (pp. 242-242)
Make a bet
“I think I’ll probably be infatuated many more times . . . He felt no guilt about it. Infatuation was a good thing. It gave spice to life, an added to its enjoyment.
But it was different to love. Love was worth everything, and couldn’t be exchanged for anything”. (p. 225)
“Do you remember what you said? You said: “Look around, this is my face. I am the place where you are.” (p. 227)