Saturday, June 02, 2007

What If?

Richard posted today about a poignant "what if" in his life and it made me ponder.

The crazy thing about life's "what ifs" is that even if you turn them into reality, they just lead to more "what ifs." If not immediately, then eventually. Everything we do in life, every decision we make, every action we take, can be considered a "what if." It's a bit dizzying to realize that the choices I did make would be "what ifs" had I made the other available choice -- and then what? Then I'd be right back to pondering this same perplexing thought, only from a different perspective, a different life, a different reality. Every road not taken constitutes the potential for a completely different future. We simply can't escape it.

So why do we spend so much time on our life's "what ifs"? Is it a form of simple fantasy? I think it goes deeper than that. I think it's a quest for self-actualization, or at least self-knowledge. Who would I be if I'd made the other choice? Would I be happier? Or would I wish I'd made the choice I actually did make?

Right now my life is full of "what ifs." In fact, I feel inundated -- almost paralyzed -- by them. What if I go into business for myself? What if I succeed? What if I fail? What if fear and uncertainty get the best of me and I go back to employee work? What if I turn down a job offer from the non-profit? What if I accept a job offer from the non-profit?

What if I go away alone for a month, just to explore myself and be alone and on my own for the first time in three decades? What if I screw everything up by doing that? What if I screw everything up by not doing it?

What if I change?

What if I don't?

It's enough to drive one nuts! And when so many "what ifs" are swirling around my head and my heart, it seems that the safest thing to do is to do nothing.

What if doing nothing is the wrong choice?

It's sleep deprivation, that's what it is. I've hit delirium!

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christina said...

Oh wow. I have SO many "what ifs" and "if onlys" in my life and it truly is paralyzing sometime.

BUT I doubt you'd screw anything up by going away on your own for a while. That sounds like a good "what if" to me. :-)

Anonymous said...

In my lifetime, I have found that playing the "what if" game about things in the past is useless and destructive. You did what you did and, consequently, have to live with it. As to the future, it seems to me that a month away will do you unmeasurable good. Being by yourself with no family distractions will help clear your mind and show you the way you need to go.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree to Renate's comment and I would further emphasize that thinking about different pathways in one's life is, indeed, very destructive. Personally, I've tracked down the most prominent - in my opinion - wrong path I've taken, and the more I think about it the more depressed I become, since everything, I strongly believe, would've been completely different as it is now, in any imaginable ways.

Take your time where just the "you" (or "I", in fact) matters; it will certainly clear your mind. Whatever you choose to do, thinking about the all possible outcomes (or "what ifs") of that is a vicious circle...

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