Carrying A Cross

In a certain village in Umbria (Italy), there lived a man who was always bewailing his lot. He was a Christian, and found the weight of his cross too heavy to bear.

One night, before going to sleep, he begged God to let him change his burden.

That night he had a dream; the Lord led him to a warehouse. Go ahead and change it, he said. The man saw crosses of all sizes and shapes, with the names of their owners. He picked an average size cross — but when he saw the name of an old friend written on it, he left it aside.

Finally, as God had permitted, he chose the smallest cross he could find.

To his surprise, he saw his own name written on it.

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian author who has sold more than 100 million books, which include 14 short story collections and the novel “The Alchemist.” He has been a fan of the Internet since the early 1990s. He spends at least three hours a day online, writing e-mails back and forth with his readers and posting photos on Flickr, MySpace and a blog.

Coelho’s online activities also include promoting pirated copies of his own books. Since 2005 he’s been directing his readers to an online site where they can download his books, in languages from German to Japanese, for free. “I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can’t change your mind later and become greedy about it.”

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