For the smart, there is a way the mind works. Situations happen; the mind adapts posthaste. There are a lot of smart people; there are also a lot of not-so-smart people. Lightning, they say, doesn’t strike twice in the same place. That’s what they say. If you’re dumb enough, wait in the same place and see if the lightning doesn’t strike you as many times as it wishes.
On Wednesday, 15th August 2012, it was announced that Arsenal had agreed terms with Manchester United for the transfer of Robin van Persie. Shock! Horror! But there had been signs…
Lesson 1: There are almost always signs…
I have this friend who had this girlfriend. I know so much about them because I was some sort of welcome third wheel. I was there as it started, as it blossomed and as it came apart. I was the insider that still had a view from the outside. It is sad that it ended. It was a passionate relationship. They had been friends for a while before making the jump and you, a rank outsider, could tell that this was a different sort of relationship, a bit like Robin Van Persie’s special relationship with Arsenal fans. They adored him and he adored them and banged in goals for them; she adored him and he adored her and well… I don’t know about the banging goals part. But she left him.
Lesson 2: People always leave.
She left him for someone else, who arguably had more career prospects, given that he was a professional. It’s probably a bit far-fetched to relate this with RVP claiming to be heading to Manchester United because of trophies, but then again, there’s some relation. This is probably not why she left. She may have left to just have a taste of pastures, greener or not. There are a lot of other reasons – mental, psychological, physical, geographical and whatever other “cals” you can conjure. He told me what she said as she bade her teary goodbyes. I asked him if anything had gone wrong. He said they had been perfect. He wasn’t prepared for the whole shebang, therefore, you could tell from a thousand miles away that this here was one distraught young man. He didn’t even attempt to play to the gallery.
The reactions among the Gunners faithful varied. Some were distraught and hurled abuse van Persie’s way. Some reined back the anger and put a veil of reason over it. Some had seen the signs; they had learnt from before. When the blow came, it was glancing, a dull jab to the head, easily absorbed. They reeled, understandably, but that was all.
Lesson 3: True love is overrated.
Love, but temper it with reason. Love girlfriend, love boyfriend, love football club or whatever, but don’t be blind. That love will probably become adulterated, but Planet Earth is not fertile ground for true love. The environment – circumstance, situation – chokes it; competition chokes it. The world as we know it isn’t utopia, no matter how many illusions we build. Only in utopia (or other fictitious places) might true love flourish.
Final lesson: Be prepared
Very many other van Persies will leave very many clubs. Very many van Persie-like girlfriends (girlfriends that claim to bleed love for you) will leave many Arsenal-like boyfriends. You’re excused if you aren’t prepared the first time – like when Fabregas happened – and you’re ill-prepared. You won’t have an excuse when a van Persie happens, and you take it hard to the head. I am very passionate about Arsenal, but as I grew up, I learnt how to be detached too. I can still flare up at the TV when Ramsey does his donkey routine on a football; I still celebrate the Arsenal victory more than I’d celebrate a more personal victory. I am still detached. I can be totally serene when it comes to crisis time.
Final final lesson: If lightning strikes you twice in the same place, you deserve to be flogged.