Well, here I am today in this time and place. Here I am. Right now. So why does my mind wonder and wander after hearing or thinking those two terrible letters? What can I possibly see in those two letters that could override or trump where or who I am today?
Two letters. It’s not “Hi” which would mean that I met someone new today while being in this time and this place. “Hi” would mean an opportunity; a new door opening to connect me to this new person. Ahhh, alas, it seems that I prefer the other two-lettered word. Yes, you know it. I’ll give you a hint, it has two letters. It’s “if.”
“If” has a life and a lifetime all its own. It can live and breathe almost with as much power and potency as the present chair in which I sit. Yet the mind is a hard thing to control as though it has a mind of its own. My mind can even add four more deadly letters with the additional word “only.” Now I’m ready for a search-less, worthless and futile backward journey that leads only to itself; in other words, it leads to nothing. “If only…”
“If only…?” Let’s just dump the “only” part and concentrate on the two-lettered word that freezes and holds my breath – “if.”
If only I took that job instead of the one I accepted then… (and now comes the three dots representing the unknown that reflect the unknown result of your un-chosen course.) See how this works?
It’s a magnificent work of our evolved species. We humans have the unusual ability to look back and then choose a different direction or choice followed by romantically or foolishly filling in the unknown life that that unknown choice would have produced. (If you followed that then you’re as crazy as I am.)
“That other boyfriend. Yeah, the one you dismissed in favor of your husband. Yeah, his best friend. Look how your life would have turned out had you chosen him?”
“What if your best friend didn’t take a different route to work and get killed in a car crash.
“In the ’70’s, if you invested in IBM you’d have that yacht that no one else on the block has.” (I think it’s because we’re seven miles from the water?!)
We crazy humans even combine the missed past with our pretend future. “If I did X years ago I’d have Y now!” We have now completed our craziness by marrying our fake past with our artificial future. Isn’t it funny how our imagined future always ends perfectly? (Don’t laugh because it’s not funny.)
The most convenient word we have at our disposal is comprised only two letters. Convenient because we can’t do anything about our situation. It’s convenient because it’s safe, there is no risk in pretending a past, there is no investment in illusions. A mere two letters summarizes our perceived present lives. “If.”
“If only Jesus didn’t talk so much and did more.” “If only he jumped down from the cross to show us who he really was!” “If only he listened to his mom and made the good Cana wine earlier.” “If only Jesus followed the rules to get what he wanted.” “If Jesus only told what he really meant instead of those silly, nonsensical; what did he call them ‘stories,’ no it wasn’t stories it was ‘parables.’ I mean, what if?”
“If.” Two haunting letters that haunt me each new day that I’m alive. Two letters that live in a imitation place within a fraud heart.
“Oh noooo! There was a social I wanted to attend this afternoon. I got all caught up in the “if” of the past and now I missed it. Oh well, back to my ifying.”