• Rob Butterfield


And the eternal torture of ‘What if?

Thinking Man Photograph by Tinjoe Mbugus

One thing life has taught me is that not all decisions you make in life will be good ones. But that really is ok. It’s better to try something and fail than to never try at all. I have a firm belief that you should never go through life saying ‘What if?’

Trust me when I say that I’ve made some pretty poor decisions over time (alongside an awful lot of good ones I hasten to add) - decisions that have led to what could be considered by others as a failure, but in reality they’ve always led to something else, opened up new avenues that I didn’t know existed. So, in reality, they’re not failures at all and ultimately not ‘bad’ decisions – they’re just ‘diversions in life’.

For example, about 9 years ago I stepped in when an iconic local music venue was about to close. I made the decision to take it over believing I could breathe a new lease of life into it. I was told by many to avoid it like the plague, my Solicitor even warned me against it on the day of signing the paperwork to take it over. I went ahead with it though; I guess I’m stubborn like that! Long story short, after two incredibly stressful years I had to give up the dream of being a venue owner – it was financially crippling and just too challenging mentally and physically with everything else going on in my life at that time.

I had to throw in the towel but had done enough for it to remain viable for another owner and the venue remains open today, perhaps stronger than ever. That will always be my legacy.

Plus, I met so many great people as a result, not to mention building a relationship with T.Rextasy which ultimately lead to me being offered the opportunity to audition when they required a new bass player… the rest is history. Had I not taken the chance the venue would have closed and I would have forever been asking myself ‘what if’ – and I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.

So, to respond to an opportunity with ‘maybe’ but to ultimately ‘not’ has consequences...

Perhaps there is some weight in the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ - I’m confident that out of every bad thing that’s happened in my life, however traumatic it may seem at the time, something good has come from it. Maybe that’s just a mindset, maybe that’s just the way I’m wired but I truly believe we can find something positive alongside the disappointment and the hurt.

I must stress that what I’m talking about is a very different thing to ultimately saying no to fear or danger. I wouldn’t do a bungee jump for example - it would scare me shitless, I know that, so ‘what if’ doesn’t even come into it. In the same way if a dangerous outcome is known then ‘what if’ doesn’t apply. It’s more about exploring opportunities, going with gut feel. And most importantly never putting yourself in a position of regretting having not done something... if that makes sense?

I guess I just have a curiosity about the unknown. There are still things I want to pursue... things that I don’t want to end up saying ‘what if’ about. I’ll always consider possibilities in life until the time I either pursue it or find out for sure in advance that for whatever reason it’s a plain dumb idea with dire consequences.

So, in essence, the real ‘consequence of maybe’ is the eternal torture of ‘what if’.

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