I am fantastically rich!

Not in this timeline, but according to the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once there are a couple of timelines where I can take the private jet to London (OK, maybe just upgrade to those flat beds, but still).

In this timeline I still have to work for it… really, really work for it. While I’m certainly rich with friends and a home and relatively good health, hotels and airlines prefer my money (I guess they already have enough friends?)

My life has been littered with Shoulda, Coulda, and Woulda. Some so noteworthy that I thought I’d share them with you, and the lessons they taught me.

In the late 1990’s I bought a little bookshop stock called Amazon, at $6 a share. I sold it at $18 and thought I was brilliant.

I was at a mall in the 00’s and saw this huge line outside an Apple store. People were waiting for this thing called an iPhone. I didn’t get in line. I went home and bought stock at $4 and kept buying shares here and there until it got “too high” at $20. I sold that too many years ago to matter.

I thought Bitcoin was just ridiculously priced… at $400, so I ignored all the chatter in the breakroom.

My biggest “ouch” when it comes to stock has got to be GameStop.

My son loves GameStop, and the advice is to buy what you know/love. It was hovering around the $5 mark and I actually placed an order for 200 shares at $5 exactly. I liked round numbers. It was $5.03. Surely it would dip and I’d pick it up that day.

It went up. I didn’t buy. You’re not supposed to chase stock. I figured it would hover around $6 and settle down again.

It went up again. Too high for me to worry about.

Then something freaky happened. One of these once-in-a-lifetime perfect storms that’s called a “short squeeze”. For no logical reason, the price went out of control, and out of the atmosphere.

I remember the moment it hit $485/share.

I cried.

It wasn’t out of greed, though it sure looks like it. It was desperation, pure and simple.

It would’ve been $91,000, nearly the exact amount I had hovering over me on my credit cards.

Yeah, I know all about taxes, yadda, yadda, yadda, but being credit card debt free would’ve given me time to get those taxes together.

I cried at the weight of the shackles of my past. Each minimum payment I’d make after that would just be another reminder of the mistakes that got me there. All I was doing was buying time and paying for the luxury of carrying the debt.

Since then, I found a way (working every angle I could) to get rid of that burden, but that’s another story for another time.

What I learned though is this:

You can’t live with shoulda-coulda-woulda. Holding on to the past will only keep you from getting to the future. If you cling to the hurt, you’ll miss the lesson.

Every day presents new opportunities. They’re not going to look the same, but hopefully they’ll be similar enough for you to recognize them. Act like you learned your lesson.

Say “yes” and figure it out. Past hurt leads to fear… and fear leads to playing it safe… and playing it safe keeps you from ever reaching your dreams. We have so many resources at our disposal that you can figure it out as you go along.

Most of what you want has been done before. Seek out the guidance of people who made it happen for themselves… in books, online, or in person. “The way” is out there… but it won’t come to you. You have to go to it.

Know what you want, and why you want it, but stay flexible on how to get there.

I dreamed of having my art in London. I can fulfil that just by shipping my art to them.

But I dream of more.

I could go alone for a couple of days, be there for opening night, cherish the limelight.

But I dream of more.

I could bring my kid with me for those few days, instead of the full two weeks.

But I dream of more.

I want him to have the full experience. I want to show him where I went to school, to walk on the same streets I did when I was only slightly older than him.

I want him to (maybe) (possibly) (hopefully) think that it’s pretty cool that my work is in a gallery in London. That (maybe) (possibly) (hopefully) I’m a cool guy (though I doubt his 17-year-old-self believes that).

I want him to see that dreams can true, when you’re willing to work for it; that you don’t have to accept whatever life throws at you (an unfortunate belief that often comes from being in Foster care).

I also want to bring a friend of his along with us. Not only because the kid’s parents will help subsidize the trip, but because my son lights up around his friends. He won’t have to endure boring museums and I won’t have to pull teeth for find out what “good” means.

Here we are nearly two months away from the trip, and I’ve raised about 25%. I can’t thank my friends who have gotten us this far. I’m still determined to get the full experience and may end up working off the trip for the next three years. That’s just the “how”.

The “what” and the “why” are important enough.

This isn’t going to be another Shoulda.


Help bring this story come to life in the Brick Lane Art Gallery in London, in April 2023. Every bit helps.

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