‘Two teardrops were floating down the river of life. One asked the other, ‘Who are you?’ The second replied, ‘I’m the teardrop from the girl who loved a man and lost him. Who are you?’ The first teardrop replied, ‘I am the teardrop of the girl who got him.’
How much time do we spend crying over the boy or girl that got away? That promotion we missed out on? The house sale/purchase that fell through? Life can feel so unfair at times. My neighbour in the village is a case in point. She’s had a bad year – crop wise. What with a late frost and a dry summer with little rain, her land hasn’t yielded what it has in years past. And now, just a few days before 1 November, the Day of the Dead, her crop of flowers has been battered to death by strong winds that nearly drove us off the road on our way down earlier this week. She was near tears when I spoke with her. She looked to heaven and asked why God had it in for her… or at least that’s how I translated the conversation. She might just as easily have been commenting on the new paint job on the house up the road.
I’ve been there. I’ve bitched with the best of them about the unfairness of it all. But when I think back on all those missed opportunities I bemoaned, all those failed relationships I cried my heart out over, all those prayers that seemingly went unanswered – I’m glad. And if I had to change one thing, it would be that I’d had the good grace to accept what didn’t come my way and to make peace with it. When I think of the energy I wasted railing against what was meant to be …
Should I sit back and let whatever happens happen. No. Should I not bother at all? No. No. I know I need to work for what I have, to put in that effort, to do my damnedest to make it happen. What I could get better at though, is recognising what doesn’t fit and park it. Move on. Holding on to what ifs and what might have beens is a recipe for disaster. If we spend all our time looking back, we stumble over what’s ahead of us, and fail to enjoy what we have.
Yep – I’m down the village. I have time to reflect. And today, when I passed House No. 1 for the umpteenth time, it was the first time that I didn’t have the familiar little tinge of resentment, that little whiff of regret that it had gotten away. Had my offer been accepted, I might well be half-way towards an expansive livable house with sod all money in the bank. Instead, we’ve had 12 months of living in House No. 2. And yes, I have sod all money in the bank, and work has halted till the spring, but it’s coming together nicely.
We spent yesterday hanging pictures, doorknockers, and bells – all gifts from friends over the years, gifts that are only now finding a home. This morning we hit the flea market at Nagykinizsa and scored another pen and ink drawing to add to my growing collection [I have some vague notion about a gallery wall in the living room…] I sucked at art in school. Pen and ink was the only medium in which I ever scraped a B, so it’s always been a favourite. And somehow, white walls lend themselves to clean lines.
My first score (the birds) was in a bric-a-brac shop behind the Nagy Csarnok in Budapest. The second (farmers in a field) was at Liliom kert market a few weeks ago. But I think this latest, the harbour at Balatonföldvár is my new favourite.
Had you told me 35 years ago when I was bawling my eyes out at not getting into teacher training college and thinking my life would never, ever be the same, had you told me that I’d be living in a little village in Hungary saving money to paint the fourth side of an old house and amassing a collection of pen and ink drawings, I’d have said you were mad.
The years have taught me that it is best to move on. To let go of what was not meant to be. Unfortunately it’s a lesson you can only learn from experience. Not from books, or theory, or the advice of others. But from practice. And in the meantime, there are white walls and pictures.