A recurring theme throughout the writings of Paulo Coelho is similar to those found in 'The Celestine Prophesy' - the idea that nothing in life is coincidence, that even a smile from a stranger should not be something dismissed as insignificant.
When I asked my wife why she bought 'Flowing Like a River' she said she had passed by it for about a month, constantly being drawn to it, but not purchasing the book. One day she succumbed and made the purchase. At about the same time, a friend of her's was going through a terrible drama. This woman and her partner lived just down the road. One night he lost it, presented a sawed-off shotgun and threatened himself. The friend called the police and my wife and I woke up to a loudhailer repeating over and over, "___ come out. Put the gun down and come out." At about 5am he did - and shot himself on the front lawn.
She gave the book to her grief-stricken friend. Sometime later, the friend mentioned the book, saying it was her bedside companion throughout those difficult times, especially when she was alone. My wife had not even opened it.
She bought a second copy and although she started it, she did not finish it. I picked it up and from page one I was captured. She bought 'The Alchemist', written by the same author and I am almost finished it. This book is an allegory; the story of a boy on a journey - very representative of the journey we all face in life, full of twists and turns. I could identify with the protagonist. Unlike me, however, he listened to his heart, often through chance meetings. I don't know how the book ends, but in this case it doesn't really matter. The message is enough and I know I will read it again. I don't keep many books because I tend to give them to friends and never get them back, which means I will probably have to purchase another one when I get the urge.
Nothing is happenstance in this journey called 'Life'. The pain and suffering we all go through is part of the forging process that tempers the steel of our soul. In the end, if I had the opportunity to choose to be anybody else, I would say, "NO!" I'm not sure I would wish my life on anyone else and besides, this is the path both myself and God agreed to before I was born, and when I understand it better I hope to share that path with many other fellow travellers out there. My pal Roger wrote a song called, "Why". It always reminds me to stay humble and celebrate the achievements of my brothers and sisters. I'm not sure how 'The Alchemist' ends... just as I'm not sure how my life will end. The secret is the journey and you can sleep through it and ignore the beauty that each new day brings... it's all about choice really.