Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bitter Sweet

It's a well-worn cliche; the saying that it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. It all sounds nice and romantic and idealist, but I always had my doubts. I mean, when it comes to the prospect of pain, I'm an absolute wimp. So the thought of having my heart wrenched out and stomped on? Enough to make me sign up for a convent.

Similarly, every time I'm ecstatically happy and jumping around on my bed, there is a dark cloud that passes over in my mind and a voice that sounds like God on Judgment Day says, "It won't last forever..." Call me bleak. Or call me Charlie Brown, who said "Everytime you get too happy, something bad happens."

I posed this question to my brother - would he rather enjoy moments so much that it makes leaving all the harder? Because if there's one thing I've learned from growing up, it's that nothing lasts forever. He looked at me like I was dumb and said that of course he would rather have the moments.

Which reminded me of hiking in Wales. As we were walking around the quaint little town of Llangollen, dodging cars that seemed to have no moral conscious whatsoever, I spotted what looked like a horse shaped bush at the top of a large hill in the distance. Upon discovering later that this horse-shaped bush was actually castle ruins, we proceeded to climb to it.

Of course, the builders of the castle were smart, and we were dumb in that they purposely built the castle up a very, very high steep mountain and if any invaders dressed in jeans and carrying cameras, but foolishly forgot to bring provisions (ie. water and food), would perish and have no hope of invading.

We passed by a family bickering about how much longer the hike would take. We passed another couple of people who had presumably passed out by the wayside. And still, we kept going. I'd always wondered if hikers ever got bored of just climbing up to see a beautiful view that they'd seen several times before, only to climb back down again.

When we got to the top though, it was all worth it. Collapsing on the grass, it was just as well that there was no castle walls to penetrate or guards to fight off. No, it was just us, some tourists, and the breathtaking Welsh countryside, stretched out in front of us like an undulating ocean of green, cottages, and sheep. Something like pride rose in my chest with the cool wind as it wicked the sweat off our faces.

My legs were incredibly sore the next day, which unfortunately, made dodging morally questionable cars more difficult. Bitter, yes. But sweet as well. Oh so sweet.

Maybe my brother was right. Even the pain makes us remember that we're alive. and that is all that matters. That we're alive - and that we can feel.

Plus, with every tear, the smile is sweeter, with every winter, the spring is more lovely, with every night, the sunrise is all the more breathtaking. And of course, the steeper the climb, the better the view.

I remember this as many of my friends are graduating from university and some are leaving home forever. I might never see them again. But it's a bitter sweet time: bitter because of the good-byes, sweet because of the times we remember. I'll gladly suffer the pain so that I can cherish the memories of laughter.


Thought for food: What's your best bitter sweet memory?


Bitter Melon with Eggs
I hated eating bitter melon when I was growing up - but then I found this marvelous recipe that added a hint of sweetness. The secret is in caramelizing the onions, so make sure that the onions are nice and golden before you add the bitter melon.
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bitter melon, chopped and deseeded
2 eggs, beaten
To Cook:
1. Heat a tablespoon of oil and add the onions. Saute for about 3-5 minutes until the onions are nice and brown, but not burnt.
2. Add the bitter melon and cook on medium until soft.
3. Add the eggs and salt. Pour in a tiny bit of water if it sticks to the bottom of the pan. Cook until done. Serve with rice.
Serves 1.

1 comment:

  1. You'll see me again...I promise! I loved this post, though. I remember when you asked me this...I was just as on the fence as you were....