It’s been an interesting week. I feel like I’ve been in a mad fight with a couple of heavies who dropped me from a height and let me bounce down 87 concrete steps, after they had beaten me with a hurley. No bruises, just a lot of pain – which says a lot as my pain tolerance is quite Catholic, something my coccyx obviously doesn’t know. Self-diagnosing, I’ve resigned myself to a couple of weeks of tentative sitting, wincing, and lots of short intakes of breath as I curse myself for even attempting to play football with a plastic bottle after a night at Paddy and the Rats. The last time I went to see them, my mate M ended up in plaster. This time, the pain is all mine. No serious damage, I hope; Xrays tomorrow will prove me right or wrong.
Yesterday, I was at a wedding. My mates A&N got married in Nagymaros with a reception afterwards in Visegrád, on the banks of the Danube Bend.
Theirs is a lovely story, one that sent me to the dictionary to check the meaning of the word, serendipity.
Word History: We are indebted to the English author Horace Walpole for the wordserendipity,which he coined in one of the 3,000 or more letters on which (along with his novelThe Castle of Otranto,considered the first Gothic novel) his literary reputation rests. In a letter of January 28, 1754, in which he discusses a certain painting, Walpole mentions a discovery about the significance of a Venetian coat of arms that he has made while looking at random into an old book—a method by which he had apparently made other worthwhile discoveries before:“This discovery I made by a talisman [a procedure achieving results like a charm] … by which I find everything I want … wherever I dip for it. This discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word.”Walpole formed the word on an old name for Sri Lanka, Serendip. He explained that this name was part of the title of “a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip:as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of….
Back in 2008, A’s mam and dad wrote to tell him that they were going on the Camino. He made the mad decision to fly home and join them. N had also decided to go and as she couldn’t get a direct flight to Spain from Hungary, she flew through Dublin. They were all on the same flight. And then at the same train station. And then at the same hostel. And then they finally met. And they ended up walking the Camino together. And now they’re married. And if he hadn’t made that call all those years ago, how different their lives would be today.
At the wedding yesterday, grown men were crying as A’s dad told us the story. We get so much crappy news these days, our media is so focused on what is going wrong with the world, that it comes as quite a relief to hear a story with a happy ending. I love a good wedding. And even if I couldn’t dance to the brilliant music and didn’t dare drink in case I tripped and fell, again, and shed more than my fair share of tears in public, it was a great day.
Sometimes we never know where our spur-of-the-moment decisions will take us. We can have no way of knowing where spontaneous choices may lead us. And often it’s not until much later that we realise the significance of something we have said or done. That’s what makes life the mad journey it is. A tangled network of roads more or less travelled. A junction box of interconnectedness. A mass of interactions where just one hello might change the face of our world forever.
And while I could happily live without the pain, this week, I’ve lots to be grateful for.