What-if thinking is usually counterproductive. Most of the “what ifs” we think about never happen. A good thing that, especially if one is the worrying type. Those scenarios are downright terrifying (take it from one whose been there, done that). On the other hand, if we’re the dreaming forward-thinking type those what-ifs can be awesome.
My older sister left a message on our voice mail last week about a post she’d seen on Facebook. It concerned growing up in a simpler time evidently since she said it brought back memories of riding our bikes as kids, playing baseball in the empty lot across the street from our house and such — the stuff of our childhood. It struck her so deeply she wanted to talk about it with me and unfortunately, I was out of doors at the time.
In these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many what-ifs that can come to mind. Some are retrospective what-ifs. What if I had not grown up in the 1960s and 1970s? I wouldn’t have experienced the freedom my contemporaries and I enjoyed. My childhood would have been terribly different. No walking barefoot to the corner grocery store to fill mom’s shopping list until she could get downtown on Friday evening. No Saturday matinee where 50 cents could gain me entry, as well as score me a soda and some popcorn. No more everything except churches and bars closed on Sundays so if you’re gonna need it you better have it on hand by Saturday or you’ll be going without. My childhood was Mayberry without the southern twang and I thought it was great. We crave simplicity in times of undue stress. Heckfire some of us crave simplicity at all times! Like now… (It wasn’t all simplicity and I recall that too. Vietnam War. Civil unrest but I’m on a positivity quest here so roll with me k?)
‘Cuz then there’s the other end of the COVID-19 pandemic what-if spectrum. What if people will be wearing masks from now until the end of time? What if we can never again gather in a packed movie theater to watch the next blockbuster ala “Star Wars” or “Titanic”? What if we can’t hug a friend hurting from the loss of a loved one or celebrating the arrival of a new baby? Or a marriage? Or landing that perfect career-steering position they’ve been waiting to come down the pike? In no way can I be termed a world traveler but what if I can never again glory in the sight of the Rocky Mountains on the horizon? Or see a whale breach in the Gulf of Alaska? Or stand on a rim so high up it looks as if the entire world is laid out below me? What if this little korner of the word, regardless of how much I love it, is all I’ll ever get to explore and re-explore? What if indeed.
Yet miracles happen on a daily basis, or so I believe. So what if someone somewhere comes along with a vaccine that can beat this dread disease? What if we can embrace physical distancing and reconfigure how our work lives operate so the economy doesn’t tank even lower than it already has? What if we can come together as a people who share a planet, put differences aside and attempt to conquer a common enemy? Now there’s a what if I can get behind.
Think about it: “what if…”