During his first American television interview on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday,” The Alchemist author Paulo Coelho told a story he had never before shared publicly. It began with the sudden passing of a man he once knew and led to Coelho uncovering some shocking health news of his own.
“In 2011, the father of my agent, a friend, died from a heart attack,” Coelho tells Oprah in the above video. “Then, she thought that everybody was going to die from a heart attack. So, she obliged everybody to go do the stress test.”
Having lived a relatively healthy life, Coelho saw no use for getting the stress test and at first resisted.
“I walk every day. I have a very healthy life. I live close to nature. I do archery. I don’t eat a lot,” he says. “You know, I’m not going to do this test.”
His agent persisted, however, and Coelho eventually gave in to appease her, not expecting to learn anything unusual about his health. That’s when he got the shock of his life.
“The [doctor] said, ‘You are going to die in 30 days,’” Coelho recalls. “I say, ‘Oh, you are joking.’ He said, ‘No.’”
Coelho was scheduled for heart surgery the next day. He knew the risks, but still says that he wasn’t afraid of dying. “I was surprised. But… I did not have time to be afraid,” he says.
Facing his mortality, Coelho was remarkably calm, thanks to three major things he’s grateful to have experienced in his 67 years: true love, living without regret and achieving his dreams.
“I said, if I die tomorrow, the first thing is that I spent more than half of my life with the woman that I love. How many people on this planet can say that? The second thing was I did everything. I was totally crazy. I went to all extremes. So, I have nothing to regret,” Coelho explains. “The third thing is that I fought for my dream. I did not take no for an answer. I went to be a writer and I wrote.”
The surgery was a success, and Coelho still maintains both his gratitude and his enlightened approach to death.
“If I die, I’m going to die,” he says. “But I want to die with the same sensation that I had on Nov. 30, 2011. This is my dream.”