If you would, indulge me for a moment while I tell you a little story of what could have been.
Back when I was in college, I worked part time at a book store. One day while I was standing behind the cash register, a cute young customer of about 20 or so caught my eye while she was standing in line. When I rang her up, my cursory approbation of her stylishly bobbed crimson locks and trim figure blossomed into the faint murmurings of a post-adolescent crush.
You see, she was buying Descartes' "Meditations of First Philosophy" and Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason." When I asked her if it was for a class, she told me all she did for fun was read philosophy and classic literature. To a 21 year old dork such as myself, who was more likely to be spending Saturday night with Dostoevsky than dudes playing beer pong, this was the sexiest thing I'd ever heard a girl say.
Over the following weeks she stopped by the store with regularity. Then one day, out of the blue, she asked me if I had a girlfriend. Not wanting to lie, I admitted I did.
I never saw her again after that.
As fate would have it, less than two months later I broke up with my, shall we say, "rationality-challenged" girlfriend. Shortly thereafter I signed up for a year studying abroad in Japan.
From there, everything in my life changed. I abandoned my goal of becoming a psychiatrist and switched my major to Japanese -- a year in Japan had caused me to come down with a fever for the language that would tolerate no distractions like memorizing codes in the DSM-IV.
Now, thanks in part to that decision to study abroad in Japan, here I am today, having traded in a potentially lucrative career path for an adulthood where the thought of financial solvency feels at times like a convicts' dream of freedom.
Would it have all turned out differently if I had made a stronger effort to get to know that girl way back when?
I bring this up here on a site dedicated to mixed martial arts (MMA) because Anderson Silva's management recently engaged in just this kind of navel-gazing speculation about a past that can never be reclaimed when they suggested (via USA Today) "The Spider" should face former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
You know, the same Anderson Silva who gruesomely broke his left tibia and fibula attempting to low kick current Middleweight champ Chris Weidman at UFC 168 (pics). Funnily enough, also the same Silva who, sporting a goatee peppered with grey, looked like a shadow of his former superhuman self while getting styled on by Weidman leading up to his fight ending-injury.
And let's not forget St. Pierre. It appears Silva's managers Ed Soares and Jorge Guimaraes have forgotten that "GSP" took an indefinite leave of absence from UFC just 15 days before the bones in Silva's leg crumbled like a package of saltines stuck in a clothes dryer set on high speed.
I don't know about you, but a nearly 40 year old man, fresh off a career-altering injury, fighting a mentally exhausted former champion is hardly what I'd characterize as a dream match.
Well, then again maybe it is, if by "dream" we mean the idle vision of a daydreaming octogenarian wistfully remembering "the one that got away" on a fishing trip he took back in the summer of '53.
It isn't hard to read between the lines and figure out why Silva's camp is attempting to reignite the smoldering ashes of public interest in a "superfight" against St. Pierre. When Soares says a potential Silva vs. St. Pierre clash "would be a win-win for everybody" what he really means is there's no match that could lead to a bigger payday for himself and his aging client.
Assuming Silva can even stage a comeback -- and that's a big if -- he's not going to know how much he has left in the tank until he gets in the Octagon and tests himself. It's very possible, some might say probable, he's shot as an elite fighter. In which case it makes all the sense in the world for his management to try and get one last big payday for him -- and for themselves -- before he rides into the sunset.
The problem is though, St. Pierre vs. Silva isn't a fight that makes any sense in 2014, and it certainly won't seem any more appropriate in 2015.
That's because the idea of Silva taking on St. Pierre in a "superfight" belongs to another era. It's a relic, like the first couple generations of iPhones -- what once seemed so tantalizing to us is now just obsolete junk.
Which isn't meant to denigrate St. Pierre and Silva; in their primes they were unarguably two of the greatest fighters this young sport has ever seen.
But therein lies the problem. Thanks to two wildly different sets of circumstances, here at the beginning of 2013 we're taking about St. Pierre and Silva's achievements in the past tense.
The whole appeal of seeing them go at it inside the Octagon was finding out who the pound-for-pound baddest man on the planet was (never mind that a difference in size would have made a fair fight between the two an impossibility). Now that we know Silva's not the man anymore, and now that "GSP" has willingly abdicated his claim to that throne, the idea of a fight between the two lacks the hook that once made it so tantalizing.
Silva, the immovable object, has been moved. St. Pierre, the irresistible force, has decided to sit down and take a rest rather than keep pushing. At this point, if they were to fight it would be entering the Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva zone, or BJ Penn vs. Matt Hughes III territory. It may end up being a fun fight, but given the discrepancy in size and where they are in their respective careers, it simply makes less sense now than it ever did for St. Pierre to blow his potential comeback on a fight against Silva.
Which is something "The Spider's" camp seems not to realize.
That's the thing with lost opportunities though. After something that had the potential to be so great slips through our fingers, it can be hard to let go.
Eventually though, given enough time, Silva and his management are likely going to learn one of life's hardest lessons one way or another:
No matter much we pine for yesterday, it's never coming back.