American writer and essayist, Flannery O’ Connor once said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” I believe this is why I write and more so right now than ever.
Yesterday afternoon and again, this morning, I was presented with that ugly two-word question that’s usually followed by some sort of action I didn’t take. That question that no one enjoys asking oneself because if you’re asking it, it probably means you’re conjuring up the unrealistic possibility of an alternate reality that only could have come to be had you made a different decision or series of decisions in your past.
Cognitively, we’re all aware that “what if” only serves as a self-loathing mechanism, right? Because the truth is even if you had made another decision or series of decisions, you may still be sitting right there on the living room floor of your Toluca Lake apartment, in front of your computer screen, typing these words and enjoying the company of your two felines and the taste of your Trader Joe’s dark roast coffee.
I believe the problem with asking ourselves “what if” is that we’re implying that at the historical time of judgment, we must have made a poor decision that led to an undesirable outcome today. But maybe if we ask ourselves, instead, why we made the initial decision in the first place, we’d discover that it was a perfectly sound and sensible one given the circumstances of that time and in turn, we’d be being kinder to ourselves.
Trusting the Universe or God or whatever guiding spirituality or lack thereof it is that you follow is not a simple task but once we do, asking ourselves “what if” kind of falls to the wayside. We’re more confident in our past and present decision-making because after all, being conscious and present leads to better, more informed decisions.
The belief that our souls are here to learn lessons has always resonated loudly with me and perhaps this is one lesson that my soul is to learn – I can ask myself “what if” and I’ll probably never have a good enough answer to justify any, even minute, amount of self-deprecation so why do it? Why make myself miserable in my now? I can only trust that I’m right where I’m supposed to be and better off having made the decisions that I made that delivered me to this now.