Leaving all behind


The Carpe Diem Haiku Kai journey with Paul Coelho’s The Pilgrimage continues, providing a deeper understanding of how leaving all behind and going on a pilgrimage or trip can be a path of growth. Carpe Diem host, Chèvrefeuille, harvested this nugget from Paul Coelho’s book:

‘When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb.  You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them.  You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life.

‘At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive….

Leaving all behind,

an enactment of rebirth,

each moment is new.

©2017 Ontheland

And what lasting benefit does such an experience offer?  I like Chèvrefeuille’s explanation:

Every day is a new day, what is in the past doesn’t exist anymore in the present, don’t look forward … be there right in the moment. Isn’t that what we try to accomplish with our haiku or tanka? …. Be part of the present, be in the moment, be one with the moment … be the moment.

A surge of delight,

peering out of bus windows

I see my hometown.

Cleared my slate,

polished my vision,

all is new.

©2017 Ontheland

Reaching for the sun


Kneeling head to knees,

tiny seed cradled by earth

rising, arms outstretched.

Fingers wide reach high,

muscles strain, spirit-lifting

postural being.

©2017 Ontheland

This haiku sequence is my response to the Seed Exercise described in Paul Coelho’s The Pilgrimage.  It’s a body/mind/spirit exercise that starts you off close to the ground on your knees (child pose in Yoga) and has you slowly rise as an unfurling seedling, ending up standing and reaching for the sky with open arms.  The full description is quoted at Carpe Diem #1120 Seed.  

The joyful image is in the public domain and made available by Pixabay.

Winter trees—Pilgrimage (6)


Pilgrim of stillness,

 soft feather tips tread the sky,

journey towards light.

©2017 Ontheland

A message found in The Pilgrimage by Paul Coelho is that pathways to enlightenment are open to everyone.   Miracles such as beauty, love, generosity, and so on can be grasped and embodied by all. For me, the intricate beauty of bare tree branches against the sky is a winter miracle.


Blowing rain

smothers blazing fire,

Hot coals glow

promise of fresh flame

to light a new path.

©2017 Ontheland

This month’s theme at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai is The Pilgrimage by Paul Coelho.  I’ll be reading the book and Chèvrefeuille’s inspiring posts, and writing haiku and tanka along the way.  This first tanka is in response to Carpe Diem #1113: the Pilgrimage starts—the prologue.

Impossible is Not a Fact—Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude.  

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.  

Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

Nelson Mandela

Inspiring words–I discovered the first quote, while researching Christiana Figueres, leader of the United Nations climate change negotiations between  world governments.  A New Yorker journalist noticed that Ms. Figueres has a framed saying behind her desk that reads: “Impossible is not a fact, it is an attitude.” A fitting motto for someone who is passionate about fighting climate change, and whose role includes leading a team of 500 United Nations employees and hosting annual climate change conferences.

Christiana Figueres speaking at press conference at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, 2012
Christiana Figueres speaking at press conference at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, 2012

Christiana Figueres’ vision is clear: the world must find a way to decouple economic growth from carbon emissions.  In other words, she is not assuming that the world will be persuaded to stop growing–especially not an option for countries in poverty that need to develop.  Her vision for the future is ongoing growth, while employing energy efficiency and clean energy, rather than fossil fuels.

While Figueres is quite aware of the obstacles and the urgency of addressing climate change, she leads with positivity, patience, and understanding.  In a recent Union of Concerned Scientists Webinar, she said  that economic “self-interest is becoming a key driving force on all levels”, as are scientific and moral imperatives.  Society as a whole, not just governments, have an important role.  The climate actions of political leaders  are being driven increasingly  by businesses, scientists, faith leaders, and concerned citizens.  

How do I relate to the ‘impossible’?   I have been wondering lately if I have a dream or whether I avoid a defined vision so as to avoid failure.   Those who have been scanning my blog will know that I am quite concerned about climate change, and while I do what I can  personally, I get discouraged by the  disconnect between where society appears to be going and the information provided by science.  Nevertheless, positive changes are happening–so my current mission is to know more about them and to share through my blog and Twitter.  Besides that, I want to express myself and be heard, which means persisting with developing a blog that many people read.  I find all three of the quotes cited above personally inspiring.  Please read on for even more inspiration from Christiana Figueres.

The ultimate discovery, on my Christiana Figueres ‘investigation’ was a Commencement Speech that she made at the University of California.  In this talk she offered two guidelines for life’s journey  distilled from her personal experiences. They demonstrate her profound sense of purpose and vision, determination, optimism, and patience:

Create Your Own Reality:

Decide to consciously exercise the power to create your own reality. The quality of your life is not determined as much by what happens to you but rather by how you react to what happens.
Go with the determination to create the reality you want for yourselves, for your society and for your century.


Let the Full Plan Unfold Gradually:

Discover the joy in every individual experience in your life, and have the patience to let the full plan unfold gradually.

It is not about getting to the ultimate perfect destination right away, it is more about fully appreciating each stop along the way, and knowing that each stop has a lesson to be learned, a skill to be honed. Eventually you will be able to connect the dots, even if those connections are not evident from the start.


The Weight of the World by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker, August 24, 2015.

Christiana Figueres Commencement Ceremony Speech, University of California, San Diego, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.  June  13, 2015

imageThis post is being linked  to Writer’s Quote Wednesday September 23 hosted by Colleen Chesebro, author of Silver Threading.  Please follow the above link to read the launch post. As well, there are links to other Writer’s Quote Wednesday posts in the Comments section.