It was worn and fragile, about two inches long, with a brown cover in soft leather. Inside, its translucent pages bore minuscule print which was nonetheless legible – verse after verse, recounting a tale of missed opportunities and lost love. It was Longfellow’s Evangeline.
Somewhere, stored in a box in the back of a drawer, I still have that tiny treasure, given to me when I was a child. And though the epic poem was intended to tell of historic events in Acadia, it was the fictionalized characters and their plight that struck me as impossibly tragic.
It was my first experience of the notion of separated lovers, spending decades passing each other by, not meeting again until one was near death. Oh, how could fate be so cruel! (And oh, to be so young and starry-eyed again!)
But who hasn’t churned variations of “what if” in every context – especially when it comes to cozy couplings?
What if I had turned right instead of left? What if I hadn’t seen you?
The past is the past, sort of
Some years ago, I shared a lovely romance with a gentleman in France. As time went on, we realized our paths had crossed at various junctures when we were both much younger. At a time when life was simpler, and we would’ve had a shot at something dramatically different.
What was the likelihood that we’d walked by each other and simply not noticed? Perhaps he was involved or I was; there could have been the preoccupation of a presentation in the hours ahead, or his thoughts on running late to meet friends.
Yet what if the romance that flared up between us had ignited decades earlier? What might life have looked like then?
Il n’y a pas de hasard
Of course, the French adore the expression il n’y a pas de hasard which, loosely translated, means there is no such thing as chance. Taking that viewpoint, that everything is fated, my French amour decided we’d met at the ideal time for both of us. Since anything that would have changed the birth of my children seems unthinkable, I had to agree.
We met at the right time – for his life and mine – for the lessons to be learned, and the gifts to be given.
So I ponder the future. The unknown. Isn’t looking at the past part of assessing the years to come? Might there be others with whom I’ve shared a similar experience of ships passing in the night?
And if so, why haven’t we met – yet?
Timing is everything
While timing may not be everything, I remain convinced that it’s an essential ingredient to success. It certainly applies in business – whether you’re bringing a product to market, or investing in real estate. And I’ve found it to be critical in relationships. So many factors must be in place for things to work – mutual goals, chemistry, logistics.
Believe me – there are deal breakers when you’re 30 that have no relevance whatsoever when you hit 50. So perhaps missed opportunities lead the way for unexpected futures we can’t envision – yet. Or is that nothing more than a trace of lingering romantic optimism on my part – a good sign – and a flicker generated of a childhood recollection?
Still, when it comes to the particulars of the personal, for friendship or romance:
- Who hasn’t encountered the “great guy” at the wrong time?
- Think you might meet again – someday?
- Is there “one that got away” who remains lodged in your consciousness?
- Can’t we also wonder – Who haven’t I met – yet?
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