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Let the Lost Opportunity Go

Heart monitorAn opportunity is often just a quick moment in time. The right time, with the right people, with the right circumstance and enough attentiveness can get us to a place of personal fulfillment we can’t dream up. As time continues to move, so do opportunities. They pass like the spikes of heartbeats on a heart monitor.

What do we do if we recognize in hindsight that we missed one? When we recognize that we miss an opportunity to do or be something that we wanted we follow it with a litany of “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.” Some call this “shoulding on ourselves.” At once disappointed in our lack of attention and foresight because the opportunity is gone, we start to sink down into ourselves and resent the fact that time doesn’t seem to have our best interests in mind.

Whether by chance or by divine intervention an opportunity is a gift. If we decide to open that gift we will be the better for it. Sometimes we don’t see that gift right in front of us. That moment disappears or gets handed to someone else. The only way to get the gift back is for the other person to give it back to us willingly, or to steal it. In reality that opportunity is gone. An opportunity lost can become a source of envy, greed, and resentment. Like a child stealing his or her friend’s presents at their birthday party, greed and envy never end well.

Letting a lost opportunity go isn’t easy especially if someone else finds it and uses it for their own goals in life. The arts are full of these cases. An artist has to show his or her work in the right location at the right time with the right people interested in it. It is almost a guarantee that when all those variables are not together for one, they are coming together for someone else at the same time. The same is with an author, athlete, someone getting a promotion, and so forth. While without persistence and hard work the opportunities seem less frequent, we are still working with a lot of circumstances that have to come together at the right time. If we miss that rare moment, we can’t just get it back.

The choice is to resent that missed opportunity or to accept it and let go. Resenting the past will lead to less and less recognition of opportunities that are assuredly right in front of us. We just need to right amount of patience and vision to see them for what they are. If we are looking at something behind us, how can we see what is right in front of us?

The more we are linked to the flow of the world around us and letting it be what it is, the greater our clarity of vision to the opportunities it presents us will also be. It starts with letting go of the past, accepting it for what it is, and then learning from our missed opportunities to do something different the next time. We can’t force someone’s gratitude and charity. We can neither force the universe to give us what we want when we want it. But we can patiently wait for the next gift to come our way.

About Andrew Tatusko

Secularization, critical pedagogy, sometimes agnostic, politics, and a ton of running. Penn State is definitely not responsible for what I say.


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