It was the final of the 2016 Euro Cup in International Football. Portugal versus the home favorites, France. No one had even expected Portugal to reach the final, and France was the heavy favorite. The main chance for Portugal was their not very secret weapon, the attacking forward from club Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo, considered by some as the greatest player in the world.
Within the first twenty-five minutes of the game, Ronaldo was tackled hard by Dimitri Payet of France. The anguish on his face from the physical pain boded ill for him and Portugal. As the medics worked on him on the field, the emotional anguish on his face, and the tear rolling down his cheek, boded even worse. Players know when they are injured badly enough to not be able to continue. They took Ronaldo off the field, did what they could, wrapped his leg and sent him back on the field. He tried to continue, but within a few minutes, he sat down and raised his hand, the signal that a player must permanently leave the game due to injury.
As Ronaldo sat spread-eagle on the near perfect grass, looking down with intense heartbreak on his face, a moth fluttered over just under his eye and landed on his cheek. Ronaldo, in his almost child-like sadness did not even respond. He simply let the moth stay there. He was taken off the field on a stretcher. The chances of a Portugal win were now even lower than they had been before.
Yet Ronaldo’s tears of despair turned to joy when Portugal scored a goal in overtime to defeat France and win the championship of the 2016 Euro Cup. People joked about the moth, but when I saw it, I was moved by the mystery of its appearance. It seemed to be comforting him, trying to tell him that things were not as they appear to be.
We never understand why things happen, especially situations that seem unfortunate, disadvantageous, or even tragic for us. If Ronaldo had stayed on the field, the game would have played out differently. The question is, would Portugal still have one? That possibility has perhaps played out in an alternate universe from ours. We will never know. But it is very clear that the answer is quite possibly, no. What seemed a tragic event may have been the key to Portugal’s victory. A lesson for us perhaps, that we should not be so quick to judge events and resist what is. If we accept what is, we may find ourselves in line with the power and intelligence of Life itself. Or, we can resist what is and suffer. It is a difficult choice to make at times when appearances seem so convincing, our thoughts run amok, and we allow emotions to overwhelm us. Yet the choice, ultimately, is ours.