Where Did It All Go Wrong?

I’m on a road trip today. Not that I particularly want to, what with this current lurgy still afflicting me. The only trip I want to take these days is up the wooden hill to my bed. But, needs must, the hatchlings require feeding and Fionnuala has cushions to buy. So I’m off to London today with work. I return late tomorrow night with a busy schedule in between. I can hardly contain myself. Hmmm.

Fun fact. Northern Ireland has two main airports. Belfast International Airport and George Best Belfast City Airport. I’m flying out of the latter, named after one of the city’s legendary sons, the Manchester United footballer. Regarded by many as the greatest footballer of all time, including the legendary Pele no less. The Spanish media christened him ‘El Beatle’, such was his fame.

Best truly had the world at his feet, such were his silky footballing skills. But he succumbed to the glamour and the glitz and his incredible talent was stunted by alcoholism and a life of excess. He died prematurely of liver failure, the world never seeing his full potential. His burial was akin to a state funeral, with thousands lining the streets to pay homage to a sporting great.

His death was all the sadder, given this unrealised potential. A European Cup winner, he left United due to his chaotic lifestyle and followed a career path which meandered and then flatlined with a number of increasingly smaller clubs. It was a life of unfulfilled potential. He could have been so much more, he should have been so much more. His legacy was ‘what could have been.’

This is a question that intermittently haunts me as I navigate life. What could have been? Could I have done better? I know I could have? Could I have done more? Most definitely. Have I spurned countless opportunities? Absolutely. Have I fulfilled my potential? Probably not. Is there still a chance I can? YES! I may be 48 years old (but a strikingly young looking 48 years old at that) but I can.

Potential is such a subjective term. The good news is that there is plenty of it around. We all have it, by the bucketful. It’s coursing through our veins. Yet it, in itself, is not enough. It can only be realised through hard work and commitment. That is where so many of us fall away. We are beguiled by the earthly trinkets of this world which tempt and distract us from our true calling on this world.

There’s a famous story about George Best. He is in a five star hotel room, cavorting with his girlfriend, a current Miss World. He is sipping champagne and the bed is covered with banknotes. He is laughing, partying, the happiest man in the world. A hotel porter enters and looks around the room. He fixes Best with a sombre expression and asks ‘So, tell me Mr. Best. Where did it all go wrong?’

Best died a legend. They named an airport after him. His face appears on our banknotes and, yes, there is now a George Best Hotel in the city centre. But, to many, his legacy is one of failure and unfulfilled potential. He achieved so much on his God given talent, but there could have been so much more. To many, he is a hero, a role model. To me, he is a warning sign. I don’t want to be another George Best. Do you?

Are you fulfilling your potential?

What more can you do with your life?

42 thoughts on “Where Did It All Go Wrong?

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  1. I love that story about George. He was certainly a great player, though I would go with Pele every time I’m afraid. As for what we achieve in life, you can always ask “What might have been?” but we make our decisions, rightly or wrongly, as we go and I guess we have to live with those decisions, whatever the outcome. Anyway, you’ll soon be a famous author won’t you – what then? 😉

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  2. Wow! What a honey! I would have fallen for him in a heartbeat! I am a sucker for a dimple in the chin like that! But I bet he didn’t age well. You never said how old he was when he died.

    As someone who has been in & out of AA & has her own version of recovery right now, I don’t think he was a failure at all. We all have our own potentials to live up to. He lived his life & that was that. Just because some of us put the plug in the jug & manage to add another twenty or thirty years to our lives & die of cancer or heart failure instead of liver failure doesn’t mean we’re successes. It doesn’t mean we’re failures, either. That’s such horrific black & white thinking. Don’t go down that rabbit hole, my friend.

    He’s a success because he’s such a great example of how you can have everything & nothing at all at the same time. I bet you learned a lot from him, didn’t you? Just like I learned a lot from my druggie heroes, Janis Joplin & Billie Holiday. Enough to still be alive & well at age 58.

    Hugs.

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  3. BRILLIANT
    Ost Stephen. I could write loads in reply but won’t. Lol. It is certainly something to ponder, and for myself, I wonder just what potential I have left now.still to write….YES. But that is pribably all now. Missed opportunities? MANY. Alk through lack of confidence. But did I climb mountains, and excel? YES. We are all a mixture aren’t we Stephen!

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      1. Thanks Stephen. Ut is so nice to hear that, for only today I have been categorused as gaving nothing to give. Becayse of my dusabilitues. I offered to help with a Foidbank for people who have no foid. This was at a church. I was turned down. It is not outside of my capabilities, yet I was labelked. This is what happens all the time! Soooo I take my offers elsewhere! Thanks for the compliment. That means a lot.

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  4. I saw him doing a show with my dads favourite player from QPR, Rodney Marsh, they played together towards the end of their playing days, and were a stunning combination.best said he was asked which he prefers doing, sleeping with miss world or scoring in the European cup, he replied “i loved doing both, but only one in front of 50,000 cheering fans”. He was an absolute ledgened, ruined by cash and alcohol.

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  5. How true. I do feel as though given life’s circumstances I am fulfilling my potential. Sure I could have been more, could have also been far far worse. It makes me so sad when I run into people I went to school with or know casually and see them just scraping by or worse. We can be our own worst enemy or proponent. Enjoy London! My daughter is dying to go there and meet Harry Potter and the Queen!🤣

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  6. I guess that’s the question of the day, where did it all go wrong? I bet most can’t pinpoint where, because it’s the little things that soon up to the big things, and the next you know you’ve lost it all, or are in the verge and can’t get back. Great post.

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  7. Who decides what our potential is? As I was reading I realized I have said to my son you are not working to your full potential. His response was he was trying but and with french it was a whole new language. Now I think who am I to determine what his potential is. Not that I am going to step right back of course in areas where he is good and should be excelling I may have words if the grades fall but for the rest of it, I do not want to set him up to feel like a failure. That happened to me. If I didn’t do this…..if I didn’t do that……achieve this…..achieve that…..I failed. I was not working hard enough. I do not know if I am working to my full potential or not. But I am happy. And I just go on. (Sorry rambling and I do realize athleticism is different from what I am saying. But you asked……)

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  8. I loved your question, “Have I fulfilled my potential? Probably not. Is there still a chance I can? YES! I may be 48 years old (but a strikingly young looking 48 years old at that) but I can.” I haven’t always made the best choices in life. Thanks be to God for His infinite grace! I turned sixty this year, started a new business, and became involved in an urban farm. I pray daily that I realize the new potentials God has given me. Sometimes I feel like I had my chance. I’m too old to realize my potential. But…

    I heard of the passing of Sister Wendy Beckett, the nun who made art accessible to the masses through her books and TV shows about art. She was living a life of solitude and prayer in the forest when she began to write for various art journals. She was sixty at the time. She passed last month at the age of 88, still doing what she loved. She’s another reminder that God isn’t finished with me yet. He obviously had things for her to do for others. I’m excited to be moving forward.

    Have a great trip and thanks as always for your blog.

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  9. The way you write…..!
    It keeps your reader following every word.
    What a story! What lesson you are trying to give everyone, including yourself!

    To answer your question in the end: no.

    To answer the other question: I ‘know’ I have the gift of creating community. I should be reopening my old coffee shop. I should be busy everyday making this world, a better and ‘happier’ place! Instead, I’m ‘hidden’, in the woods, attending just to ‘2’ people. Myself, and my spouse. Oh and the dog. So 3

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      1. You know, this is funny! Simply because, I just got back from a meeting with a ‘book narrator’! And ‘I did’ suggest this to her: if I ever reopen, I will make sure to include a stage area, where authors, narrators etc…can share their talents!

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  10. At 70 I have found myself asking that question often – What more could I have done? Did I do enough? At I look back, there are areas I feel very satisfied with – others I have regrets. But I have concluded looking back (except to learn from mistakes) does no good. My prayer is “Lord, whatever time I have left, help me to make a difference for good.”

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  11. So sad. To this point I’ve done what I can do. I’m not satisfied. I can do more in the future but I’m not gong to beat myself up for what should have been… ok, that’s a lie, but I can’t undo it and just keep trying in other areas of life. And then the body and mind make it difficult.

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  12. Thought provoking post. It struck me though that your question is not a helpful one for me since I would always tend to be critical of my past decisions. The fact is, I am where I am. “My potential” isn’t a yellow brick road. It’s an evolving entity. What is the potential for today? For this hour? For this situation? Those are questions I have a prayer of answering

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  13. I think the biggest barrier to fulfilling one’s potential lays in the lack of confidence and low self-esteem most people struggle with. I know I did. I don’t know about the measure we use to qualify success. I think success means different things to different people. Personally I do not buy into a lot of it – but that was a lesson I had to learn. How happy are we? Are we satisfied with our life? Can we accept what we have? For the most part I am reasonable satisfied with life as it is – but I am also a firm believer in life-long learning. I have a list of things I’d like to learn and experiences I’d like to have, but at the end of the day I ask myself if there is anything I would change about my day. Some days are filled with things I’d change. Most days I’m content. That’s what I consider success.

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