20 Lessons from By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

A fictional novel about love and loss, about taking risk and acceptance.

  1. If only I could tear out my heart and hurl it into the current, then my pain and longing would be over, and I could finally forget. May my tears run just as far, that my love might never know that one day I cried for him. I shall forget the roads, the mountains, and the fields of my dreams — the dreams that will never come true.
  2. I remember my “magic moment” — that instant when a “yes” or a “no” can change one’s life forever. It seems so long ago now. It is hard to believe that it was only last week that I had found my love once again, and lost him. All love stories are the same.
  3. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments — but all of this is transitory; it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.
  4. Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. What have you done with the miracles that God planted in your days? What have you done with the talents God bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful of losing those talents. So this is your heritage: the certainty that you wasted your life.
  5. At any given moment in our lives, there are certain things that could have happened but didn’t. The magic moments go unrecognized, and then suddenly, the hand of destiny changes everything. Yes, life teaches us many things, it taught me that we can learn, and it taught me that we can change, even when it seems impossible.
  6. No one can lie, no one can hide anything, when he looks directly into someone’s eyes. And any woman with the least bit of sensitivity can read the eyes of a man in love.
  7. It wasn’t what I had been thinking; he was no longer insisting, he was ready to let me leave — a man in love doesn’t act that way.
  8. We recognize that the magic moment of the day has passed and that we’ve done nothing about it.
  9. We have to listen to the child we once were.We can stifle its cries, but we cannot silence its voice. We have to allow it to feel loved again.
  10. I was more and more convinced that he was right: there are moments when you have to take risk, to do crazy things. It is all a dream. It’s going to end. But how long can I make the dream go on?
  11. Lovers need to know how to lose themselves and then how to find themselves again. It must have been the lunatics who invented love.
  12. Love is much like a dam: if you allow a tiny crack to form through which only a trickle of water can pass, that trickle will quickly bring down the whole structure, and soon no one will be able to control the force of the current.
  13. For when those walls come down, then love takes over, and it no longer matters what is possible or impossible; it doesn’t even matter whether we can keep the loved on at our side. To love is to lose control.
  14. Love is a trap. When it appears, we see only its light, not its shadows. I knew it, I said to myself. I knew he was going to turn my world upside down. My brain warned me, but my heart didn’t want to take its advice. Life takes us by surprise and orders us to move toward the unknown — even when we don’t want to and when we think we don’t need to. I am just like everyone else who listens to their heart: a person who is enchanted by the mystery of life. Who is open to miracles, who experiences joy and enthusiasm for what they do. It’s just that the Other, afraid of disappointment, kept me from taking action.
  15. It’s risky, falling in love. I’ve been hurt before. It’s like a narcotic. At first it brings the euphoria of complete surrender. The next day, you want more. You’re not addicted yet, but you like the sensation, and you think you can still control things. You think about the person you love for two minutes, and forget them for three hours. But then you get used to that person, and you begin to be completely dependent on them. Now you think about him for three hours and forget him for two minutes. If he’s not there, you feel like an addict who can’t get a fix. And just as addicts steal and humiliate themselves to get what they need, you’re willing to do anything for love.
  16. For years, I had fought against my heart, because I was afraid of sadness, suffering and abandonment. But now I knew that true love was above all that and that it would be better to die than to fail to love. Even if loving meant leaving, or solitude, or sorrow, love was worth every penny of its price.
  17. Yes, break the glass. A simple gesture, but one that brings up fears we can’t really understand. What’s wrong with breaking an inexpensive glass, when everyone has done so unintentionally at some time in their life? It’s a rite of passage, I wanted to say. It’s something prohibited. Glasses are not purposely broken. Our universe requires that we avoid letting glasses fall to the floor. But when we break them by accident, we realize that it’s not very serious. Breaking glasses is part of life and does no damage to us.
  18. Break the glass. Try to understand that I have broken things within myself that were much more important than a glass, and I’m happy I did. Resolve your own internal battle, and break the glass. Break the glass, please — and free us from all these damned rules, from needing to find an explanation for everything, from doing only what others approve of.
  19. This was the kiss I had waited for so long — a kiss born by the rivers of our childhood, when we didn’t yet know what love meant. A kiss that had been suspended in the air as we grew, that had traveled the world in the souvenir of a medal, and that had remained hidden behind the piles of books. A kiss that had been lost so many times and now was found. In the moment of that kiss were years of searching, disillusionment, and impossible dreams.
  20. My heart leaped, but I didn’t want to believe it. I felt free again, ready to return to the world and be a part of it once again. The worst had passed, although the sadness remained.