Musing on 'What if?'
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about questions that begin with ‘What if…..?’ It is a very ambivalent framing – can open us up and shut us down.
If we have an idea, we can ask ‘What if we try xy or z?’ We become open to the possibility of trying something new or starting a conversation that moves us in a new direction.
We can wonder and step into our imaginations by asking ‘What if this or that happens?’ We can think big and plan for futures. We can reflect on the past and see things in hindsight by pondering ‘What if x had happened instead of y?’
Yet our minds, which allow us to imagine so much, can also play tricks on us. What if I had done better? What if the thing I’m dreading happens? This can paralyse us, all that possibility shrinking down to such a narrow focus.
I suppose this is how language acts – small words with big meanings. And our incredible complex minds which can create and interpret these meanings. And our imaginations which can run the gamut of thoughts from nightmarish to liberating.