Building a Cathedral

Read this excerpt from “Dream,” by Paolo Coelho and write down your impressions.

You are in a store. You try on a garment that fits you perfectly. You try on another, but it’s too large. It itches a bit, the sleeves drag on the floor. Both garments sell for the same price. Which do you buy?

It isn’t a trick question: You should buy the one that fits better, of course. This logic can also apply to the way we decide to live our lives. We know intuitively that there is a life we long to have, a dream we’ve harbored – sometimes since childhood. But too often we decide to follow a path that really isn’t our own, one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go, the price is the same: In both cases, we will pass through difficult and happy moments, hours of solitude, and many complex situations. But when we are living our dreams, the difficulties we encounter, make sense.

You may have heard the parable of the three men laboring in the field of rocks. Each is asked what he is doing. The first man says, “Can’t you see? I’m breaking rocks!” The second man replies “Can’t you see? I’m earning my salary!” The third man answers, his eyes gleaming with enthusiasm, “Can’t you see? I’m building a cathedral!” This lovely story, which my mother first told me when I was a child, illustrates both the necessity of hard work in realizing a dream, as well as the need to keep the vision in your mind’s eye – even when the others don’t see or understand it.

The money we receive in return for our eight hours of work each day can be spent any number of ways; the only thing we cannot buy is extra time. So, during the minutes we have, I believe it is better to live a dream rather than to simply dream it. The dream is the start of something greater, something that impels us to make daring decisions. And it’s true that the person who pursues a dream takes many risks. But the person who does not, run risks that are even greater.


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