I was strolling in the gardens of an insane asylum when I met a young
man who was reading a philosophy book.
His behavior and his evident good health made him stand out from
the other inmates.
I sat down beside him and asked:
‘What are you doing here?’
He looked at me, surprised. But seeing that I was not one of the doctors,
‘It’s very simple. My father, a brilliant lawyer, wanted me to be like
him. My uncle, who owns a large emporium, hoped I would follow his
example. My mother wanted me to be the image of her beloved father.
My sister always set her husband before me as an example of the successful
man. My brother tried to train me up to be a fine athlete like
And the same thing happened at school, with the piano teacher and
the English teacher – they were all convinced and determined that they
were the best possible example to follow. None of them looked at me as
one should look at a man, but as if they were looking in a mirror.
So I decided to enter this asylum. At least here I can be myself.’
Taken from Stories For Parents , Children , And Grandchildren by Paulo Coelho