“If” – On condition that; in case that; allowing that; as though; supposing that
The word “if” is very tiny, however, it has the capacity to permeate our lives in both positive and negative ways. Most often it is used to take inventory of our past. When we are in a contemplative state of mind, the phrases “if only I had, did, said” dominate our thoughts and emotions. We’ve all been there, looking at our past to see what we did wrong, questioning our choices, filling our minds with recriminations and regrets. More often than not this train of thought fills us with incredibly, powerful negativity. It seeps into our pores making us feel stupid, worthless and a failure. I have spent a great deal of time in the “if only” world. Dwelling on the past in this manner has done nothing to shape my present or future. It is just an inventory of what I should have or could have done “if” and I feel so much shame and heartache at times that I can’t breathe. I can’t enjoy the present and thinking about the future, well, that doesn’t even seem possible.
I have realized at this marvelous age of 65, that I can’t change the past. Duh – no brainer, right. Well, it’s harder than you think when you have lived that way for so many years. There are so many wonderful things that happened despite bad or questionable choices that I wouldn’t change those choices if someone told me I could. The question is: can I take those negative “if only” thoughts and change them to positive thoughts that propel me forward rather than standing still, motionless, lost.
This is where imagination comes in. Trust me when I say that I have a very difficult time with my imagination. My sons are amazing – they imagine, then make it so. They draw, paint and write stories, poems, music. I have “mother” envy. Their “ifs” are followed with “if I do, go, visit, try, then (fill in the blank) will, might, could happen”. They fail at times, but they just keep dreaming and imagining the “what ifs” that lie ahead in their lives. I want this positive force in my life. How can I take some of my “if onlys” and change them to “what ifs”? Now that’s where I wish I had a bit of pixie dust to spark my somewhat anemic imagination. How do I allow myself to feel passionate about something, to open my mind to possibilities, not dismiss ideas or fear failure?
Slowly, cautiously I think I have taken a baby step. I’ve always thought about writing, so “what if” I start a blog? Ta-da! I’m doing just that, now, in the present. It’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve tackled in a long time. Trying to find inspiration is so hard, but it gets the blood in my brain circulating, my thoughts stirring as I check the dictionary researching words that catch my attention. I’ll never be famous doing this, but that’s the point isn’t it? I said “what if” on something I use to enjoy and am giving it wings. Even if I am not the best or creative writer, I feel a special, positive glow when I post. I’m leaving a little bit of me on “paper” – a dream, a “what if” that I’m making happen.
Maybe I need to look objectively at my “if only” thoughts and try to change some of them to “what if”? Shall I dare to dream, to imagine, to fly? If…….
“IF” – Lyrics by Joni Mitchell
If you can dream
And not make dreams your master
If you can think
And not make intellect your game
If you can meet
With triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same
If you can fill the journey
Of a minute
With sixty seconds worth of wonder and delight
The Earth is yours
And Everything that’s in it
But more than that
You’ll be alright
You’ll be alright.