Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What If?

Imagination came by the house when I was just a little girl and asked a lot of questions.
What if....
fish were leaves?
clouds could be eaten?
you could talk to mice?
every rock was a diamond?
hair was really worms?
fairies swam in the ponds?
I giggled. I laughed. And together we played for hours.
Then Imagination turned on me and for a while we were not friends.
What if...
the iron is on and the doors are unlocked?
darkness really is dangerous?
the baby never sleeps?
I fail?
I succeed?
One foot slips?
I climb?
I fall?
I am not ever the person I want to be?
The boys get hurt?
My husband leaves?
We all get lost?
And no one finds us?

Later still I understood...
What if...
my wondering was not a jail cell?
imaging opens doors?
What if...
too little is not enough?
my own needs are not selfish?
pain holds answers to what is wrong?
feelings don't need a justification, just the right to be felt?
tenderness opens my world to embrace joy and suffering?
amazing lives inside us all?
my writing is one day read?
...and asking what if adds to the depth of those words?
What ifs are guides, not gods. They are the freedom to think outside possibilities, they are not the possibilities themselves. They are neither friend nor foe, and ask nothing more than to be acknowledged occasionally or birthed in due season. What ifs are not the boxes we build to put things inside, they are the keys to locks on lids. The only thing that makes What ifs dangerous are the answers we give in fear.
Without What ifs there would be no imagination. There would be no story tellers and there would be no stories to tell.
Have you met a What if lately? What did it ask and what did you say?


  1. How wonderful it was to come and read this post this morning! I loved it.

    What if I looked inside without judging?

    Straight From Hel

  2. Cool post! No, I'm not a good what if asker. I imagine stuff, but usually there's no question, there's just the leap into the answer. LOL
    I like the what if clouds could be eaten. Yum. They already look delish. LOL

  3. Great. Now I'm worrying I left the iron on and forgot to lock the doors before leaving home today!

  4. Tabitha, I love the way you look at the world and write about it. I am not aware of asking what ifs myself. I kinda get in trouble with expectations, so I try to stay focused on this moment, as it is, right now. But if I were to get up the nerve to write fiction (which I really really want to do), I'd have to learn to live in what if land. What if I just try one sentence at a time...? Hmmm.

  5. I love all your posts! This is another good one. I hate it when the negative what ifs take over. You make a good point. It's not the what ifs that are bad; it's the answers we give to them. How true!

  6. What if I hadn't ever met you (virtually speaking)

    What if I'd never read this post.

    What if there is really nothing after all the love.

    What if it is a black hole of nothing.

  7. So true! I'd rather still be wondering if leaves were fish.... Thank you for this reminder!

  8. Ooh I like that, what if's are guides not gods. So Often I lock myself in without too much forethought.

  9. You had me with what if fish were leaves. Oh, the places that can lead. Children spout these sorts of things all the time--they haven't put any prudent shackles on their imaginations.
    And you are right that it is only the dark what-ifs that can stifle the possibilities by pretending to be real.
    This is an awesome, deep-well of a post. Thank you.

  10. This is so, so good. And so true. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. Great post Tab! I try really hard every day to change my What if's, for what is and it's not easy. They're only useful if you're using them in a curious positive way, like kids do it! Go the kids.

  12. Hey Tabitha,
    Just wanted to give you a heads up. There will be a small surprise for you on my blog Wednesday.

  13. I love your responses to this :) I'm glad you guys get me!

    Helen- I love that line. "What if I looked inside without judging?"

    Jess, I wonder what they would taste like? LOL

    Steph, Haha! Hope the doors are locked and the iron is off :)

    Karen, if you can write from your heart and produce a memoir then you know well that beautiful place inside from where powerful writing is pulled. You could write that fiction book from just the same place. Characters require the same insights I think :)

    Lazy writer- thanks. Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. My mother used to tell me to ignore the what ifs. But apart of me dies when I am not wondering and playing with possibilities.

    Suzanne, I am smiling. What if I didn't get to read you?

    Kristen, don't you still wonder about those leaves? :)

    T.Anne, Yes, me too. Far too many locks on my life. Not enough keys.

    Tricia, thank you for your comments. They always make me smile.

    Sarah, my pleasure.

    Wendy, yes, go the kids :)

    Karen, ooh... I can't wait.

  14. What if Tabitha wrote a childrens' book called "What if?" I can see it now! I love reading your posts. Thanks for your comments on my blog!

  15. I love this post and the questions it asks and answers. Beautiful writing.

  16. This is absolutely without question one of your best posts yet. There is a little of this in all of us, growing into adulthood and losing a bit of the youthful innocence we started out with.

    What if we laughed for no reason every single day?