This morning I got a call from school – actually directly from my eight year old daughter, Ruby, who said in very sad and pleading voice that she didn’t feel well and wanted to be picked up. I hate getting this call because my work is a solid 45 minutes’ drive from my children’s school. Between the drive and the wrapping up of what I’m doing at work, it’ll take me an hour to get to her, at best. That just doesn’t feel good, even when I suspect she may be playing me.
So I left work hurriedly, and of course my gas light was on…so I “stopped” for gas.
I pulled into the gas station feeling a bit frazzled. I had efficiently taken a moment at a red light to arm myself with my credit card, ready to burst into action upon arriving at the gas station. I pulled up to the pump and began to hop out…except I had neglected to actually put the car in park. Halfway out of the car as it began to roll, I oh-so-gracefully scrambled to get my foot on the brake to stop the car from leaving without me. Laughing to myself (and of course looking around to see if anyone else caught my swift maneuver) I couldn’t help but think of a comment made to me a few months ago by a toll booth attendant.
I had pulled up to the bridge toll and, although I have an EZ Pass, the bar didn’t lift for me to pass through. The attendant, a man in his sixties, came out of the booth and said to me, “I think you were too close to the car in front of you…” and then, with a wink…
“Sometimes the faster we go, the longer it takes to get there.”
Recalling this bit of wisdom made me ponder my recent runaway thoughts.
Yesterday I had a real attack of the What Ifs.
Have you ever noticed that the What Ifs are RARELY positive thoughts?
What if I write a book…and it gets picked up by a publisher? What if it becomes a Best Seller? What if people love it….and I feel fulfilled and validated like never before? What if I actually make money at writing!?
Nooooooo….of course not. The What Ifs are more like this….
What if I try to write a book and I just can’t? What if I write a book and no one wants to publish it? What if it gets published and no one wants to read it? What if I am left feeling humiliated? What if I’m not good enough?
And instead of…
What if I allow myself to be completely vulnerable with a man in a way I never have before? What if he allows himself to be that way too? What if we fall in love? What if we are happy and content in each other’s company? What if we have amazing sex, too!?
It’s more like…
What if I choose the wrong man…again? What if I allow myself to be completely vulnerable with a man…and it’s a huge disaster? What if I lean in too far? What if I fall in love? What if I wind up disappointed…or worse – heartbroken? What if he sees all of me – really SEES ME – and he decides I’m not good enough?
Yes, I know it’s all about fear and vulnerability…and whoa, isn’t it some twisted irony that I am afraid of my own dreams?
The What If’s are not my friends. I bet they aren’t your friends, either.
The truth is even if our What If’s are positive thoughts, they still would not be all that helpful, because…
Sometimes the faster we go, the longer it takes to get there.
It’s like trying to complete a Dot to Dot, but instead of connecting it in the order in which it was intended – 1, 2, 3….the What If’s have us counting by twos…or threes…or tens! We might think we know how things will turn out…but if we project too far ahead, we’ll inevitably end up with the wrong answer…or with a complete mess.
Of course, this is where mindfulness comes in…taking a breath...checking in with reality and an awareness of what is actually happening right now (which may very well be absolutely nothing).
Or maybe we are simply on the first dot...and we must mindfully make our way to the second dot, and then the third….
Listen, the What If’s are shit at Dot to Dots.
Don’t let them take over your picture.