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Authors: Paulo Coelho,Margaret Jull Costa

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BOOK: Manuscript Found in Accra
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And he answered:

The defeated are those who never fail.

Defeat means that we lose a particular battle or war. Failure does not allow us to go on fighting.

Defeat comes when we fail to get something we very much want. Failure does not allow us to dream. Its motto is: “Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.”

Defeat ends when we launch into another battle. Failure has no end; it is a lifetime choice.

Defeat is for those who, despite their fears, live with enthusiasm and faith.

Defeat is for the valiant. Only they will know the honor of losing and the joy of winning.

I am not here to tell you that defeat is part of life; we all know that. Only the defeated know Love. Because it
is in the realm of Love that we fight our first battles—and generally lose.

I am here to tell you that there are people who have never been defeated.

They are the ones who never fought.

They managed to avoid scars, humiliations, and feelings of helplessness, as well as those moments when even warriors doubt the existence of God.

Such people can say with pride: “I never lost a battle.” On the other hand, they will never be able to say: “I won a battle.”

Not that they care. They live in a universe in which they believe they are invulnerable; they close their eyes to injustices and to suffering; they feel safe because they do not have to deal with the daily challenges faced by those who risk stepping out beyond their own boundaries.

They have never heard the words “good-bye” or “I’ve come back. Embrace me with the fervor of someone who, having lost me, has found me again.”

Those who were never defeated seem happy and superior, masters of a truth they never had to lift a finger to achieve. They are always on the side of the strong. They’re like hyenas, who eat only the leavings of lions.

They teach their children: “Don’t get involved in
conflicts; you’ll only lose. Keep your doubts to yourself and you’ll never have any problems. If someone attacks you, don’t get offended or demean yourself by hitting back. There are more important things in life.”

In the silence of the night, they fight their imaginary battles: their unrealized dreams, the injustices to which they turned a blind eye, the moments of cowardice they managed to conceal from other people—but not from themselves—and the love that crossed their path with a sparkle in its eyes, the love God had intended for them, but which they lacked the courage to embrace.

And they promise themselves: “Tomorrow will be different.”

But tomorrow comes and the paralyzing question surfaces in their mind: “What if it doesn’t work out?”

And so they do nothing.

Woe to those who were never beaten! They will never be winners in this life.

“Tell us about solitude” said a young woman who had been about to marry the son of one of the richest men in the city but was now obliged to flee
.

 

And he answered:

Without solitude, Love will not stay long by your side.

Because Love needs to rest, so that it can journey through the heavens and reveal itself in other forms.

Without solitude, no plant or animal can survive, no soil can remain productive, no child can learn about life, no artist can create, no work can grow and be transformed.

Solitude is not the absence of Love, but its complement.

Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life.

Therefore, blessed are those who do not fear solitude,
who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge.

If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself.

And if you do not know yourself, you will begin to fear the void.

But the void does not exist. A vast world lies hidden in our soul, waiting to be discovered. There it is, with all its strength intact, but it is so new and so powerful that we are afraid to acknowledge its existence.

The act of discovering who we are will force us to accept that we can go further than we think. And that frightens us. Best not to take the risk. We can always say: “I didn’t do what I should have done because they wouldn’t let me.”

That feels more comfortable. Safer. And, at the same time, it’s tantamount to renouncing your own life.

Woe to those who prefer to spend their lives saying: “I never had any opportunities!”

Because with each day that passes, they will sink deeper into the well of their own limitations, and the time will come when they will lack the strength to climb
out and rediscover the bright light shining through the opening above their head.

And blessed be those who say: “I’m not brave enough.”

Because they know that it is not someone else’s fault. And sooner or later, they will find the necessary faith to confront solitude and its mysteries.

For those
who are not frightened by the solitude that reveals all mysteries, everything will have a different taste.

In solitude, they will discover the love that might otherwise have arrived unnoticed. In solitude, they will understand and respect the love that left them.

In solitude, they will be able to decide whether it is worth asking that lost love to come back or if they should simply let it go and set off along a new path.

In solitude, they will learn that saying no does not always show a lack of generosity, and that saying yes is not always a virtue.

And those who are alone in this moment need never be frightened by the words of the devil: “You’re wasting your time.”

Or by the chief demon’s even more potent words: “No one cares about you.”

The Divine Energy is listening to us when we speak to other people, but also when we are still and silent and able to accept solitude as a blessing.

And in that moment, Its light illuminates everything around us and helps us to see that we are necessary, that our presence on Earth makes an immense difference to Its work.

And when we achieve that harmony, we receive more than we asked for.

For those
who feel oppressed by solitude, it’s important to remember that in life’s most significant moments we are always alone.

Take the child emerging from a woman’s womb: it doesn’t matter how many people are present; the final decision to live rests with the child.

Take the artist and his work: in order for his work to be really good, he needs to be still and hear only the language of the angels.

Take all of us, when we find ourselves face-to-face with that Unwanted Visitor, Death: we will all be alone
at that most important and most feared moment of our existence.

Just as Love is the divine condition, so solitude is the human condition. And for those who understand the miracle of life, those two states peacefully coexist.

And a boy, who had been chosen as one of those who was to leave, rent his garments and said:

“My city thinks I am not good enough to fight. I am useless.”

 

And he answered:

Some people say: “No one loves me.” But even in cases of unrequited love there is always the hope that one day it will be requited.

Others write in their diaries: “My genius goes unrecognized, my talent unappreciated, my dreams scorned.” But for them, too, there is the hope that, after many struggles, things will change.

Others spend their days knocking on doors, explaining: “I’m looking for work.” They know that, if they are patient, someone will eventually invite them in.

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