Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memories Seen Through Rose Tinted Glasses

Location: Sopron, Hungary
Time: 20:30

Jó Ested Internets.

I spent the day at Bérzsenyi Daniel Evangélikus Gimnázium...my old stomping grounds. I got to chat with two of my favorite former students, blessed as I am, and visited a few of the current English classes. I truly miss it here, but I can't tell if it's because I've learned so much since I've been gone or because I'm simply a tourist and loving life right now. I feel that if I came back and did the same work I would be much more effective because I know what I was doing wrong before, and I understand the culture better. However, this could just be the rose tinted hue of remembrance.

Do you ever notice how memories are more positive than the actual reality? For whatever reason, and I'm sure a psychologist could tell me why, we have selective memory when it comes to our past and we seem to remember much more of the positive than the negative.

In Hungary I find it's the opposite.

Hungary is a country steeped in history, tradition, and remembrance, and a lot of that remembrance is melancholy at best.

For example, I remember a trip to Budapest a few Octobers past during a national Hungarian holiday. The country was remembering the revolution of 1956. Granted, I was educated in the American school system and know shockingly little about world events, however, I do know that any revolution against Communist Russia in 1956 was unsuccessful.

I mentioned this to my Hungarian colleague, asking why, if they failed, do Hungarians celebrate the revolution?

She replied, "because we tried."

And that is a great summation of the Hungarian spirit. They don't have much to celebrate by way of successes. Another colleague, at a different time, lamented, "we always pick the wrong side."

She, of course, was speaking in regards to conflicts and past world wars.

But while they don't have many successes to celebrate, they have a few attempts to remember. And they do so with gusto.

Because the spirit of Hungary isn't about victory. The victory itself is in the attempt.

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