What If vs. What Is

Pondering “What if”

Bud loves to play the “What If” game, imagining what he would do if he won the lottery.  Don’t tell him, but I secretly pray that we never win the lottery.   Plus, I’m pretty sure that in order to win, we have to play.

Helen did buy me a couple of scratch off tickets for Mother’s Day.  I think I won $2.  I also think the winning ticket is lost somewhere in the kitchen.

What if…  What if we won the lottery and we had no more financial worries.  We would just be trading in one set of problems for another, don’t you think?  I’ll admit that it would be nice to get the front porch fixed.  And I really don’t want my children graduating from college with a bunch of debt.  But winning the lottery — what would that do to us?

When kids play “what if” it can get absurd.  What if aliens landed in Greene?  What if an elephant came running down our street?

I tend to be pretty pragmatic.  I’d rather deal with what is.  Yet, yesterday, I found myself going down the “what if” road.  What if we had handled things differently with my mother?  What if we had sought out help sooner?  What if we had done work on my parents’ house to make it more liveable and practical for elderly people?  What if, what if, what if.

I hate the “what if” game.  “What if” denies the beauty of “what is.”

What if the doctors had been right and I hadn’t been able to have children?  I can’t imagine a life without my children.

What if I had followed my dreams to become a physician?  And missed out on all my cookie baking and swim lessons?   God forbid!

What if we had pushed my parents to do major renovations on their house?  Would the stress, turmoil, and upheaval with construction in their home have hastened her illness?  Rather than look back wondering, we need to look ahead.

“What is” is beautiful.  “What is” is wonderful.  At times it is hard, but I have no regrets.  I thank God every day for the life He has given me.

My front porch may need repair, but I choose to look at the beautiful bucket of flowers rather than the rotting wood.

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Published in: on June 12, 2012 at 8:39 AM  Comments (12)  
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  1. It’s difficult not to play the “what if” game, especially with a parent with dementia. I do it all the time. What if I’d picked up on the signals sooner, what if we’d gotten her on medication sooner… But I can’t go back, can’t have regrets. We are just doing the best we can. Good post.

    • So true — all we can do is the best we can.

  2. We’ve played that game, too, but I realized early on that it would get us nowhere. I prefer to play the “what is” game, instead. Pragmatism wins out.
    And I see in your picture a rebel in your midst! We have one, too…..

    • Pragmatics unite! I think we’re in the minority.

      And yes, there was a Zaengle in that picture who didn’t look terribly thoughtful.

  3. What If…. You never chose to write a blog?
    I’d be missing out on a wonderful writer. :)
    Love you, Mom

    • Aww, Mary. Thanks. You’re so sweet.

  4. Great post. The love of family is always more important than material things. (And my porch is peeling too!)

    • Yes, yes, yes. Relationships are so much more important than material things.

  5. From an academic-historian point of view, I’ve found that I like asking “what if”. Not everyone in that field wants to ask that question.

    • But you can’t change history. Do you ask it with the view of “how could we do better next time?”

  6. I think it looks very charming.

    • You must see the flowers instead of the rotting wood, too.


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