“Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways . . .” – Psalm 25:7
Could-a, would-a, should-a. Occasionally my mind likes to play the what-if game. Does that ever happen to you? It entails looking back at my past life and imagining what if I had done this instead of that, made this choice instead of that one, gone a different direction from the path I took. Could-a, would-a, should-a, I like to call it. What a foolish waste of time, though, an exercise that tends to lead to feelings of regret! Two things generally awaken me from such mindless wanderings. One is the reality that the clock cannot be turned back anyway, so forget about it. There are no do-overs, what’s done is done. The other is the fact that many other choices I’ve made have actually been good ones, excellent in fact. The first that comes to mind is my spouse, the love of my life, from whom our family was spawned, and love continues to grow. Then there are the careers I have chosen, of which I can’t imagine doing anything that could be more rewarding.
Whenever I wrestle with the what-if game I also realize that I’m simply playing armchair quarterback with my life, looking back with 20-20 hindsight, through a lens of wisdom which I’ve gained more of – thanks to the experiences and choices I’ve made through the years – but was clearly lacking at the time I made many of those choices.
I once read an essay by the late Bob Buford, author of the bestselling book Halftime, in which he made the case that football games are most often won in the second half. He used that analogy to demonstrate how our lives are much like football games, concluding that, “The first half gets you in the game . . . [but] the second half is for your best plays.” When I read that it occurred to me that all the choices we make in the first half, the good ones as well as the mistakes, the successes as well as the failures, contribute in preparing us for our best plays in the second half.
I still find myself praying often that same prayer of the Psalmist: “O Lord, ‘remember not the sins of my youth . . .’” to which I’m inclined to add: “. . . but neither allow me to dwell too much on could-a, would-a, should-a. Instead, use the wisdom I’ve gained from the first half of the game to be used in the second half – for the best plays.” So, here’s to the second half, and the best plays of our lives!