It’s my least favorite sports argument of all time …

Would Barry Sanders be the all time leading rusher, in the NFL, if he had stayed in the game?

Who cares? 

He didn’t. So he isn’t. And Emit Smith is. Because he did. 

What an insult to a person who sacrificed and struggled and worked and played hurt and got every extra yard, to even entertain the debate. Was Barry Sanders a great player? Absolutely. Might he have gotten and held the title if he’d kept playing?

A lot of things might have happened…if only. But that’s not how records (or life) are measured. Nothing is measured by “if only.”  

I’ve seen debates on Facebook, talking about how things would’ve been better or worse if Donald Trump had been in charge during the Afghanistan debacle. And it’s a completely moot point. 

There is this murky alternate universe, filled with billions and billions of moving parts that all change each other as they are unfolding, where we speculate as to what may or may not have been. 

Then, there’s the one we actually live in…where we can see, in real time, what is actually happening. Not what might’ve happened. Not what should’ve happened. Not what was supposed to happen. But whatactually happened. 

If you think Trump (or anyone) would’ve handled it better, make sure you remember that when you vote. If you think Trump would’ve handled it worse…sorry…you get the government you vote for. And when they screw up in a way that is remarkable by any standard, you get to share in that reality. You helped bring it about. 

Might it have been worse? It doesn’t matter. It simply is. 

There is only what is and what isn’t  

And until you fully wrap your head around this concept, you will allow yourself to occasionally live in the “if only.” 

It’s easy to do. 

“If I had only caught that pass in front of the scouts, I would have gotten the scholarship.” 

“If I had been there 3 minutes earlier, I would’ve been the one that convenience store sold the winning lottery ticket to.”

“If I had been born with her skin tone and hair color, I would’ve been picked for the cheerleading team.”

“If I were running that company, we would do such and such …”

And on and on it goes. 

Meanwhile, while we are trying to figure out where we went wrong in the past, the present is staring us right in the face…right here, right now. 

I’ve told the story before (and I’m not going to go back into it), but I accidentally overheard a doctor tell my mother (when I was 10) that I probably wouldn’t live past age 21. It was all about Rheumatic fever and heart damage and a lot of other drama. I’m 54 and doing fine. It all worked out. But it did instill a sense of urgency in me that has never left. 

You literally have no idea when you’re going to die. It may be tomorrow. It may be before the sun goes down, tonight. It may not be for decades. But if you ever get a time limit placed on your life, it will change it forever. 

There is no more time for, “As soon as I get this and that lined up, I’m really going to kick it into gear,” talk. There is no time to wait until the perfect circumstances are in front of you (they never will be, by the way). 

If you are going to contribute anything to life, you have to act. Period. 

My number one pet peeve in the entertainment business, is watching people squander months and years, waiting on this to happen or that to happen, thinking that they will be saved by the right planets lining up at the right time. 

Not gonna happen. 

Whatever it is you were going to do…do it now. It’s time. Because when you’re gone, nobody is going to stand over your body and give a list of all the things you were “this close” to making happen.

You have one life. One body. One mind. And it has all been put here for a reason. Once you fullybuy into that, you will never waste another second of another day. 

And there will be no more excuses and dwelling in the past. There will only be learning from mistakes and moving on. There will be less “but…but…but…” and more “okay…what’s next?” talk. 

Understanding that life is a full participation, no points for the thing-that-was-messed-up-by-somebody-else’s-mistake, all in or not in at all, proposition, will turn your “dreams” into actualgoals. Because you will finally come to the realization that those dreams will not get closer to coming true while everything is static. 

I’ve lost 3 very important friends to death in the past 10 days. 

All 3 were extremely accomplished and brilliant in their respective careers. And the thing that has been gnawing at me the most about it has been the hard, cold reality that the world doesn’t get anything else from them…ever…EVER. 

Whatever they did or wrote or played or said or changed is done. Their stories are written. And no amount of “if only” will change what those stories are. They are now in stone…literally. 

Is this the story you wanted to write? Or, are you still blaming your situation for it not being written correctly? Are you okay with that backlog of projects collecting dust? Or is it time to put wheels under them and move forward? 

Sometimes, you need to close your eyes and picture your own funeral, as if it’s going to happen tomorrow. You okay with what you’re seeing? 

Did you wring every ounce of life out of what you were gifted with? Did you say what you came here to say? Do what you came here to do?

If you’re seeing a lot of “if only’s” there, it’s time to remove them and make “what is” as spectacular as “what might have been.” 

Because trust me, friends, that ceremony might be closer than you think …    







5 thoughts on “IF ONLY…

  1. This really got me. I don’t know that I have a lot of if onlys, but I do procrastinate, especially when I don’t understand something or I’m not sure of the outcome. I am 63, almost 64 and I don’t want to waste my time sitting around. Thank you Regie for this. I will be pondering this for a long time……..whilst I’m doing the stuff 🙂


  2. A very wise therapist once said to me “but that’s not the way it happened” – she had to say it several times as I was obsessed with thinking about what “could” have happened “if”.
    It took a while for me to completely embrace this way of thinking, but it has helped me so much. Accept that it happened, acknowledge your feelings and let it go.


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