And just like that, it was over. His life, and what it could have been was never given the opportunity to fully be.
For some reason I was thinking about a tragic event that occurred during my senior year in high school. I don’t know what it was that took me back. Sometimes my thoughts take me to places I never expect to go.
His name was Andrea McCoy. He was a member of the 1980 US Olympic boxing team. The US boxing team was heading to an exhibition in Poland when their plane crashed as it approached Warsaw. On March 14, 1980, 22 members of the team perished, including Andrea.
Andrea and I weren’t that close. We shared home room together, a few laughs, and a few classes. I remember his huge smile and his kind spirit.
I remember his empty seat.
Andrea was given an incredible talent, and for reasons well beyond my understanding, was given only 20 short years on this earth. On the edge of such promise it was all just taken away. Not just Andrea the boxer, but Andrea the person, all that he was and all he could have become.
THE SILVER SCREEN I was never given Andrea’s talents. But what I was given was more time. As we approach the 32nd anniversary of this horrific event, the reflective me has to ask if I’ve made the most of the precious gift of the time I’ve been given. My gut is telling me probably not.
Reflection can be dangerous. It presents a great opportunity for kicking yourself in the head. A video montage of all the so-called mistakes and lost opportunities of your life begins playing on the silver screen of your mind. Suddenly you’re slow dancing with the Three Sisters of Regret…Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda. “If I had it to do over again, I’d….”
Shhhh. Stop. It doesn’t work that way.
Regret can be a powerful weapon of self-destruction or regret can be a powerful tool of self-fulfillment. It can nail you to the floor or fuel your present moments. The choice is yours.
I’ve nailed myself to the floor on occasion. I’ve let the toxicity of regret poison the pristine beauty of my own present moments. There was no forward motion, the Three Sisters whispering their venomous music in my ear.
FUEL For me today, regret is a reminder of the fragility of life’s moments. Time isn’t waiting for me or anyone. The voice of regret is a painful souvenir of the times of my own stagnation, of being stuck in the past trying to change that which can never be changed. When regret tries to whisper in my ear, her words now become the fuel which inspires me to keep moving forward. Her words no longer nail me to the floor. Life and time are simply far too precious to be spent living in the past.
The lessons I’ve learned from the past help me fully respect the present moment, and I honor that moment by living fully in it.
A moment that Andrea was never given.
Life, the part that has gone by, can never be lived over again. What’s already happened has already happened. But our past, regrets and all, has brought us to where we are today, on the threshold of our own greatness. Our past has made us stronger, teaching us the lessons we’ve needed to learn in order to move forward.
Life, the right-now, is a blank canvas of incredible possibility, waiting for us to color it as only we can. And since doing it over isn’t an option, all we are left with is doing it better.
Don’t let your past derail your future. Your time here is too short to focus on what could have been. It prevents you from appreciating what already is.
And there is so much to appreciate!
It’s a great day to be you!
clock photo: David Niblack