Coulda Woulda
Off The Wall, January 29, 2010

If ever there are three words that are used regularly as a way of expressing hindsight, it’s “Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda.  Don’t say them out loud or too fast. Others will think you are speaking another language, or possibly speaking in tongues. Not that there’s anything wrong at all with the latter, it just that there are a number of people who have developed a bad habit of reverting back to the past and applying that “if only” clause.

Hey, forget it. You heard me. Yesterday was, today is and tomorrow shall be. It’s as simple as that.

We all are going to make mistakes. How else are we going to learn that there may be better ways than the habits we have formed? Our parents had them, you have them, and yes, guess who else has them. You’re right – yours truly.

But all of us have room for improvement – that’s the great thing. It’s what lies ahead that counts, not our misgivings that we left behind.

Betty Sue Martin from Arkansas was riding her horse bareback one summer morning. Upon dismounting, she stepped down thinking she was on the ground, but misjudged the distance. Lowering herself, she put weight on her ankle, putting pressure on it to the point that a number of bones were broken.

It’s true, if she would have gotten off her horse correctly, thinking about her dismount, maybe the accident wouldn’t have happened, but it did. In one manner of speaking it was a done deal. So she could have said “If only…”, but what does it matter now. What she had to deal with is the “now” and the “future’, and forget about the past. Was it easy for her to do? No way. Did she blame herself with many excuses? You betcha. The coulda/woulda/shoulda became words her relatives heard regularly.

I don’t care if it’s George Platt, Jerry Finegol or Georgia Best who may have had similar situations happen in the past. The past is just that – over, gone, passé, fini, done.

We all have hurdles in life, don’t we? I like to call them potholes. Many have heard me use the expression, “You never know what smooth sailing is until you’ve been through the potholes of Pittsburgh.” People laugh, but quickly realize my point. When you get pulled into a situation that you didn’t see coming, it kind of grabs you and pulls you down. Picture yourself standing in the bottom of a pothole and seeing only the sky above. It’s a humbling experience, at best. You may think you are alone, caught up in peril with no real solution. That is when those words start flowing from you mouth. Then, there are two more words that are just as common – “Why me?” Why not you?

First of all, you are not standing in that hole by yourself. I have to make this point perfectly clear. God is with you. Nothing you can do alone without His help will get you back to road level. You may claw on the sides or stick your feet in the walls, but the gravel will just give way.

It is my opinion, people seem to forget there is a reason things happen. Betty Sue thought she was “home free,” so to speak, and I guess, figured here life would be smelling like roses in as much as she went to church weekly, read her prayers daily, said the Rosary regularly, and gave substantially to the church’s building fund.

But when she fell, upon dismounting from her horse, she began losing sight of God, started falling into bad habits of blame, and became more of an annoyance to others rather than a blessing.

We are all familiar with the saying, “Nobody promised you a rose garden.” That means we are all susceptible to “stuff” happening. But to constantly complain, utilize sentences beginning with “If only…” or do the “coulda’woulda,shoulda” thing just isn’t going to cut it.

In my way of thinking, despite what has happened over the last couple months or years gone by, we should try to put all that behind us and learn to live with what we have. A very dear friend recently told me, “Cherish today. Live it like no other. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.” I plan to do that. But, if for some reason, I can’t do as planned, I’ll just thank the Lord for the blessings He’s given, for they are many.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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