Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

The one that got away.

Everyone has a fish story.  The exaggerated tale of the “catch-of-a-lifetime” that was nearly theirs.  It could have been a job or career that they’d dreamed of and never got.  Maybe it was the education or an experience that eluded them due to financial strains.  Sometimes it is an opportunity that was close enough to touch, but didn’t transpire.  For many, it is unrequited love that wriggled from their grasp, leaving them with an eternal case of regret, from which, they will never recover.

For years, I’ve watched my friends, and myself, replay and agonize over the ones (oh, there’s always more than one) that “got away.”  Sitting over pots of tea or glasses of wine, the stories pour out, each of us trying to figure out what went wrong or what might have been the one thing to change to change the outcome.

I see the person who didn’t start/finish college working their fingers to the bone to send their offspring to school, wringing their hands over the schooling they missed (having parents who couldn’t afford to send them, or who instead encouraged work over higher education). “If I’d known the endless supply of potential energy I’d possessed, maybe I could have worked harder to try and get a degree.  The school work, two jobs and the academic workload would have been nearly impossible, but I suppose I could have made it work.”  — Yes, but the life experiences that were available to you were also amazing.  A degree may have made things different, but you would have been different, too.  Your life’s work, travel and the volunteer opportunities you committed yourself to likely would not have happened.  The world is a better place because of you and what you have done, despite what you did not do.  Oh, and if I might offer just a little reminder: you’re not done yet.

Since work is so much a part of everyday life, it stands to reason that career choices and jobs slip through our fingers and then lead us to tell tales about it.  “The interview process was brutal.  But, of course I realize now what I should have done differently.  The job ultimately went to someone else, but it could have been mine.  If only I would have handled that one question properly.”  — Rats!  That job did go to someone else, but probably someone whose true life passion is in that particular field.  It will take time and a healthy dose of introspection, but you’ll see that the job, though well-paying, would have consumed you.  Not just because of the hours at your desk or the work taken home, because it was a position that could have become emotionally devastating because of the people and personalities involved.  That and the fact that the position included meetings at nights and conferences on weekends, you’d really have to be a dyed in the wool Company Man/Woman in order to do the job really well.  There is no gold watch at the end of that trail… just a life given over to service to an industry that, at the end of the day, isn’t your true passion.  Thank goodness this one did get away, so you could continue searching your heart to find your true calling, keeping your emotions and sanity intact along the way.

Of the many fish tales, love seems to loom largest.  “Maybe I should have stamped my feet and told him that I would have moved heaven and earth to be his!  That it was me, not her, who could have made him happier than he could have ever imagined.  Our relationship could have been long and enduring, patient and passionate, thought-provoking and hysterically funny… I’m certain it would have been a multifaceted and textured love story for the ages.”  — Oh, come on.  You know that see-saw could have tipped either way.  Looking back, we know that he was too blind to see your true value.  Just wait.  A partner worthy of you will be revealed… a like-minded, golden soul and you will both be happier than ever imagined. 

Every art form has an expression devoted to the One That Got Away.  Books, movies, art and music… right now, there are songs written by artists in every genre (Katy Perry, Pink, Tom Waits, Tim McGraw, etc.) about it.

We all have stories to tell and the more we tell them, the bigger they get over time.  In fact, if you’re ever in a situation where conversation is lagging, go on and ask people to tell you their Big Fish Story and let them pick the category.  Best parlor game, ever.  And certainly better than sitting and staring at your own bucket full of nothin’ to show for all that you believe has slipped away, don’t you think?


Sure… there are ‘Plenty of Other Fish in the Sea.’  But you’re not anywhere near the sea.  You’re in the desert.  Alone.” – Anonymous.

Objects in mirror are larger than they appear.  So is the “one that got away” in your brain.” – T. Katz


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