So, I have this philosophy in life, and you’re going to have to trust that I haven’t made it up in the last 36 hours. I adapted it from my friend Keith Anderson, a passionate expat Liverpool fan based in Woodstock, who posited it to me years ago as a sports analogy. I use it when people say, “If only…” As in, “If only I had made/had not made this decision when I was 21, my life would have been better.” Different, yes, but better? You can’t prove a hypothetical.

Similarly, as a biographer, I have frequently heard older people say “Everything was lined up for (greater) success, but then unexpectedly this happened (or did not happen) and our opportunity was lost. It changed everything.” Changed, yes? But for the worse? The evidence simply does not exist. Life took a different path, and that was that.

Let’s call it Lifes Rich Penalty. How often have you heard someone say: “If the ref had only given that obvious penalty/decision in the last minute, when the game was tied, our team would have won” (and with it, won a Cup, won the League, avoided relegation, or just, for argument’s sake pertaining to this past Saturday at Selhurst Park, got two more points and come off the bottom of the table)?

My response has always been: “And how do you know your team would have scored/converted the penalty?” Saturday’s last-minute incident at Selhurst Park – which has most Crystal Palace fans, quite rightly, more angry with a player than they have ever been – only proves this improvable. Decisions in life – make-or-break decisions – can go in your favo(u)r. And you can still blow them.

So, don’t say “If only…” about your life, because it’s a cop out. Deal with the here and now. Take responsibility for your decisions. Learn from your mistakes. And blame the life referee all you want when things don’t go your way – but be prepared to accept it’s still up to you to convert the chance when they do.

And yes, I’m talking about myself here as much as anyone else. Peace.


Just because a decision goes your way in life doesn’t mean you’ll make the most of it.


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May 2021