When I was about to leave her office, the principal only asked me one question. She wanted to know where I was going after the interview and I told her in all sincerity that I was headed home. She seemed disappointed, but not the kind where it would’ve saddened me, instead, it was the kind that said with a face gesture that she had made a decision.
That day was a tuesday, I’ll never forget that. After the interview the right thing to do would be to get back to class, obviously. I like to think of that as the reason I didn’t get the scholarship, but deep down I know it wasn’t about that. It wasn’t about what I could’ve done differently, I was just the wrong person for it. I’ve always felt extremely happy for the girl who did got it. It was her time. What if all that had happened differently?
Each time something doesn’t goes according to my plans I, as almost everyone else, feel dissapointed. Making plans is putting ourselves into a dangerous position of doubt that makes our brains cope with more than one reality. One of the lessons I learned is to eliminate the what if?s from my life. Nowadays I don’t remember that tuesday afternoon as a missed opportunity, but as one of the paths available to me at that time. In the words of Robert Frost:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Without getting caught up in all that illogical nonsense about life choices and, I hate to even write this, destiny choices, it seems funny how everything works out in the end. I like to name it the ‘life paradox’. Weeks before my great grandmother passed away, she told me that being ninety-six years old had taught her a valuable lesson. We have both a lot of time on this planet and at the same time so little of it. That’s where the paradox adjective comes from, it illustrates that our lives can be so opposite in its roots. She did all the things she wanted to and simultaneously did none of them.
When you chat with a person and get past the point of small talk, you may reach that moment where all the conversations usually go the same. We talk about work, about family, about goals, about disappointment, about… you get my point. But it ocurred to me that people rarely say they’re happy, or at least fictionally happy. What if real happiness is not achieved until your last living breath? I would like to explain what real happiness means to me. You can wake up in the morning feeling happy, you can party on your birthday and be happy and you can definitely get happy from those little bits of joy we all get through life. But my great grandma explained to me a different kind of happiness. Real happiness. The one that you get when you look back and remember stuff. For her it was a life filled with upsides, downsides, chaos, joy, sadness, well… feelings. She told me she felt truly happy and that moments in life that saddened her like no other, like the death of her husband, made her happy. Pretty peculiar, right? Enough about her anyway.
Is true happiness what I feel when I think that I didn’t get that scholarship? Of course not. I don’t even know very well what she meant by true happiness, but that simple thought is what burns all the time in my mind. It pushes me, just like it pushed her in the end. What if she hadn’t told me that? What if…?
You fill up in the blank please. I couldn’t. I’m too busy making plans.