When Sweet Turns Bitter

January 10, 2009

Too commonly it has been said that time is what heals even the most vicious of wounds and this truth has by now become a comforting cliché; the reassurance that all miseries eventually shall come to pass the hope which inspires people to look forward and not remain static in a painful present. The validity of this notion I can verify in regards to both the experiences of myself and others, though I find it important to stress that all pains worth the mention are bound to in some way have left scars.

“The course of life never turns out as expected,” my mother has told me ever since the youngest years of my infancy in an attempt to make certain that her daughter, Miss Josephine, never is to travel farther than she can see down the road. Though I have despised those words since the fist time I heard them, I am certain that my mother’s mention of them served a purpose; reminding me of never submitting to the extravagancies conjured by a youthful mind yet untamed by the wisdom brought on by experience.

The wisest of men are those who have realised that there are no certainties in life; that nothing may ever be taken for granted. To do so is to disregard from doubt and to submit to the convincing allures of folly; to become one of the fools who doth think that they are wise. It is a fallacy which most fear, but which most commit never the less. To my own disappointment, I have realised that neither I am excused for having carried out such an act as my most recent experiences have cemented this new knowledge in my mind.

For the past year there is a certain word which has brought much felicity to my days, a word which I have carefully introduced into every conversation where it rightfully could be mentioned. The word carried great importance to me and I would not lie to you if I say that I indeed were very much in love with speaking the word. To me it was a word of great symbolism and importance; it brought substance into a life so devoid of meaning and possibility for improvement that indolence took the place of motivation in a character once praised for its ambition.

For the past week this word of verbal sweetness—this word of my affections—has grown sour and it now leaves a bitter stain upon my tongue as I attempt to recover from the pains caused by a unforeseen blow to my view of self. To doubt doubt and to be convinced of convictions has proved poison to what was once so very dear to me. The word itself has not been altered—so it can in no way be blamed—but my perception of its sound—once so clear and bright!—has changed and it will never again be spoken by me with the smile of delight.

“How can such deep affections so suddenly be replaced with contempt and disregard?” I hear you ask, and indeed your curiosity shall be satisfied, for I have not authored this incoherent collection of words with the intent to keep you, my dear reader, in the dark. You shall see that the answer to your question—so rightfully asked—is to be found during study of the person affectionate; the object of love seldom to be blamed for a lover’s change of heart.

Cambridge has a noble ring to its name; it speaks of ambition and tradition to my ears; two sentiments which I value and celebrate, and I would have considered it an honour to be chosen to be part of its long history, but such a future was never to be mine. I no longer mention Cambridge when I speak, it has been confined to become a subject of my own reproach; the sweet word has turned bitter and harsh for it is no longer a symbol of opportunity, but one of personal failure and futures to never be known.

Soon I have for two decades been alive and am I fortunate a fifth of my life has already passed me by. One would consider the prime of my youth long gone, but its folly seems reluctant to bide me adieu; we have accompanied each other for too many years to ever be completely apart; were I not foolish in my convictions I would not be who I am; the question being whether a wiser me would be to prefer? Is doubt in conviction what I need to revive?

In retrospect even the most ambiguous of enigmas wear their answers on their sleeves; readily seen as well as read—why did I not consider to look while they were in my view? Alas! That is the way in which folly is defined; as blindness affecting one’s perception of the most obvious; folly being the symptom of complication, of shrouding and concealing what was left out in the open for everyone to see! This realisation is soon to be followed by revitalised reproach: Why was consideration never considered? Why did conviction appear so compelling, so very convincing? Why—oh, why?—was the unclouded clarity of certainty concealed to me?

Had I doubted more—and not been so very convinced—success might very well have been mine. Had I been less convinced—and had I been a person in doubt—my future might have been another! Had I not been as overly confident in myself as I were I would have doubted my abilities, knowledge and talents more. Had I doubted myself I would have questioned what I knew and been motivated to heal the flaws which most apparently were present in my person. Had I doubted and healed myself of conviction’s ignorance my premature honour and pride would perhaps then have been rightfully mine?

Indeed, I committed the fallacy which humanity seems unable to abandon; the inability to realise its own limits. Man is not an omnipotent creature; he does not have the ability to predict the future; all his attempts to do so will eventually be proven wrong. My mistake—I beg you to learn from mine and man’s mistakes—was that I reaped my harvest before my fields had been ploughed. I were so certain of my success that I celebrated it before celebrations were due and failure was all that I left for myself to find.

Perhaps my mother was right when she mused to me that life never takes the course which one expects or wishes it to follow, no matter how much I despised those her words. Had I been more attentive perhaps my fate would have been another; had I convinced my mind to contain a fair amount of doubt I might not have attempted to fly on wings premature. Though I am a fifth of a century old I have barely lived at all and experience cannot easily be considered mine. It is through my folly that I grow to become more than the sum of my parts, it is through the blows of disappointment that I learn the lessons of life.

For, indeed, my dear mother was right: life is fickle and its course is never set in stone. The faintest whisper is enough to steer it off course as life is nothing but a ship sailing in the dark. Wisdom of the past is the only light which serves as a guide, but in a world of unlimited possibilities one is at times all too easily lured to follow the sparkle of fool’s gold.

No longer may Cambridge be the intellectual port where I head, but however knowing that my folly and I are alone to blame I have been given an opportunity to learn from my mistakes—I have been given yet another valuable lesson by life—and I may be more of a person now than I were before sweet turned bitter in my mouth. This pain will no doubt leave a scar, but the initial sting has now faded and it will soon only throb during the darkest hours of my days.

I may never fully forgive myself for having allowed the opportunity of a lifetime to pass me by, but I have learnt that the wisest course of action is to be a fool and doubt one’s wisdom; as even the wisest also are fools.

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