The story comes in many varieties but it always ends the same way…with a missed opportunity. If you’re lucky, I mean really lucky, your chance may come around again but the odds are not in your favor. My favorite story that I like to tell others about missed opportunities is “The Girl on the Train.”
If you are a guy reading this, you have probably been in this situation at least once in your life and missed out. You are on the train and a beautiful girl catches your eye. You stare at her intensely until she glances your way and then you look away and play like you were not aware of her. Your initial hope is that she gets off at the same stop you are so that you can win some sort of dating lottery.
This “staring and then look away” game goes on stop after stop as your prayers are repeatedly answered as she doesn’t rise from her seat to get off the train before you. The knot in your throat tightens as your own stop is drawing closer and closer. You wonder if she is really going to get off at your stop because, of course, that is when you plan to make your move.
Suddenly, your stop is next and she is making no preparations to get off of the train. Now your mind starts to race with questions. The biggest one is why you didn’t make your move several stops ago. Now there is no time for a rushed introduction because the train will soon stop and your momentum, should you gain any, will be lost as you exit. And remember, you are still not even sure that there is any interest from her side. Oh, what to do?
You decide to not take the chance and just rise to exit the train for your stop. After you pass through the double doors and find yourself on the platform, you can’t help but take one more look. You look at her, she looks at you for what seems like hours, and then she knowingly smiles to let you know that had you shown the courage you would have been rewarded. Of course that smile comes as the doors close and the train is pulling away with you powerless to stop it.
This is where the accounts can and usually differ. When that happened to me many moons ago, my next move was to look at my watch and note the time. If I could be on that very same train at the very same time tomorrow I would be able to have my chance encounter, right? Wrong. The truth is I will probably never see her again and another agonizing truth is that I don’t deserve to. She’s thinking, “he had his shot and he didn’t take it. Too bad…maybe the next one will have the cojones needed to ask me my name and number.”
Two summers ago, LeBron James was on the same train and he did the courageous thing. He asked her for her name and number. She said her name was Miami and gave him a number that started with area code 305. For seven years LeBron had been taking the same train in Cleveland and ending his season without the championship he coveted. The only way to break that cycle in his mind, and in my opinion, was to start taking a new train that had a different destination with different passengers.
LeBron James has already made it to the top of the mountain in one sense. He has become like the teams and the players that everyone tunes in to see whenever they are on television. The Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, and the Los Angeles Lakers are 3 of the teams that everyone tunes in to see. Most want to see them win but many want to see them lose. Either way the games are almost always highly anticipated and highly rated to boot.
Tiger Woods was, is and will probably always be the golfer that everyone tunes in to see win or lose. First because of his greatness but more recently because of his human failings. Kobe Bryant sort of fits that same mold as Tiger but he managed to get new sponsors, get more rings and gain even more popularity since his legal troubles of a decade ago.
LeBron James is disliked for exercising the freedoms that we would all like to have. He honored his contract and then he took another train. We, not me necessarily, just didn’t like the “way” in which he chose to make and then announce his decision to the world. He’s gone on record as admitting he would change some parts of the process if he had it to do over again but I liked his decision to join his friends and go for it all in Miami.
The major hangup was, and will probably always be, the arrogance surrounding the “Decision” and then the “Promise.” At the end of the day, people always want you to do things the way they would have done them if given the chance. Those people just need to get over it. LeBron James did not leave the Cavs with nothing like it is always reported. He allowed the Cavs to sign him and then trade him to Miami for future draft picks. He did not have to do that. He could have been a jerk like his former team owner was very upset over the news he was losing his superstar.
It is not always easy to know when you are on that fateful train in life but ask yourself if you will have the courage to ask her “for her name and number” or will you let the train pull out of the station. You only get one life so I say live the one with the least regret and the one that says you left everything you had out on the playing field of life.