What if. These are two words we say all the time. We use these two words for both positive and negative outcomes, for creative expression or terrible consequences. They can be connected with changing our future or going over the past. What if. It makes me think.
Our car got into a minor fender bender last week. No one was hurt, well except our car and the other guy’s. I immediately asked myself, what if we had left home a few minutes earlier? What if I had decided to keep the baby home that day and not bring her to daycare? What if my husband understood that looking in his blind spot when changing lanes was a good idea?
My son, in a moment of 11-year-old rage directed at his father, broke our bathroom sink faucet last night. The faucet probably was on its way out, but brute force definitely sent it over the edge. Again, I said to myself – what if I hadn’t told my son to take a shower at that moment? What if my husband didn’t snap at his son? What if my son just took out his rage on us by yelling and not acting?
Those are two small examples where I asked that two-word question over and over, but every day it crosses my mind. Sometimes it’s something minor, almost petty. What if I left my house just five minutes earlier, then I wouldn’t be stuck behind this garbage truck? Or what if I put my umbrella in my purse this morning and didn’t get soaked on my way home from work? What if I had turned left instead of right and not snagged that great parking spot?
It goes on and on, and for the most part the outcome is not that significant. Leaving a few minutes early or changing my mind does not affect my life too much other than maybe add some stress or bring a smile to my face.
But there are other what if questions I ask myself that are much bigger and most definitely have turned my life in one direction or another. I guess you could say that for almost everything we do, if we had not the acted, sometimes at that exact moment, our lives would be markedly different.
Back in 1999 my husband and I lived in Israel for about 6 months, early in our marriage. I applied for a number of Masters of Journalism programs across the US and chose a top-rated program in broadcasting at New York University. We moved to New York, where David worked and I went to school. What if I didn’t go back to school and we stayed in Israel? And what if I chose American University in Washington DC instead? What if we stayed in New York after I finished school instead of moving back to Toronto?
Did I make the right choice for my career path, years ago or more recently? Is Toronto the right city for me to live in and raise my family? What if we chose a different neighbourhood to live in or a different school or camp for our children? What if I didn’t give David a second chance, back in 1995, when I first met him (when he was drunk) at a “Beer Bash?”
If all I did was ask what if all day every day I would never be able to make a decision or live my life. And lately, I will admit, I have been asking that question too often. I have been questioning my choices and my decisions, and it often leaves me frozen on the spot. At times I have been overwhelmed, but thanks to some wonderful family, friends and colleagues, I am pushing through.
I need to turn what if into something positive and a vehicle to drive me to action. What if I contacted some old friends or work colleagues to just catch up and get some inspiration? What if I signed up for that spin or yoga class? Or what if I invest more energy (dare I say also money?!) in my beloved blog, Kinetic Motions, and see where it takes me? What if I focus on all the positive in my life and not all the tasks and stress that bog me down?
Writing this post helps me turn my attention from questioning past actions and choices to focusing on what is next and the great things I can do with my future. If you read all the way to the bottom, thank you, kind readers. Your support is much appreciated.