Monday, August 9, 2010

So... What If

Ever ask yourself, "What if?" Sure you have. We all have. What If I'd taken that other job? What If I'd never met him/her? What If I'd just said a kinder word instead? What If I'd walked away instead of screamed? What If I'd chosen vanilla over chocolate? Don't tell me you haven't ever asked What If.

What If as a retrospective is a by product of self-doubt and remorse, of dwelling too much in the past. Granted, we can always give it a positive skew and take notice of the sacrifices others have made for us, starting with the obvious: What If my mother had decided three children was enough?

Reflective What If is generally a waste of time. It's not a forward motion phrase and we don't ever get essential, helpful answers. But... just imagine if we were to make it a forward motion phrase and take it from past tense to future tense? Let's just give that a whirl, eh? How about, "What If I walk for an hour every day?" There's a What If with a real answer. I will lose weight, I will get in shape, I will feel better, I will be happier with myself. Wonderful use of What If. What If turns into I Will. A quandary turns into an imperative. What's more affirmative and assertive than I Will?!

Creative minds are always asking What If? It's critical to the creative process. Without the creative What If, we'd all be doing paint-by-numbers, word-search puzzles, and playing Guitar Hero instead of drawing, writing, and composing music. (Hell, without What If we'd still be sitting in the dark, worrying about being eaten by predators!) The creative mind asks, "What If I take the giraffe out of Africa and put it in the middle of New York City?" "What If my protagonist discovers that her father was wanted for war crimes?" "What If we change the C major chord to C minor?" These What Ifs can make all the difference.

Wisdom doesn't just comprise knowing what we want, it also has to consist of knowing what we do not want. What If can help us determine what we don't want as much as it can determine what we do want. It differentiates extremes. What if I just stop eating? Well, I'll lose weight, but I'll be dead. Nope... don't want that. Let's try to find some type of medium.

I told you that August was going to be a month of shifting paradigms for me. In light of that, I'm exercising my forward motion What Ifs. I really need to be physically healthier. So, I'm starting with these two this week: What If I walk for an hour every day? ... and... What If I cut out any kind of processed sugar? I won't bore you with the answers. We're all smart enough here that we know the answers. I will keep you posted on my progress though. In the meantime, let me know what your Forward Motion What If is...?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What if...I had never ventured into the Reading Room?

  3. I've thought that about a few of us, Cath. Certainly was a defining moment!