Thursday, May 03, 2007

What if?

Posted by Lynne

On Monday, I picked
up my fourteen-year-old son after jazz band practice. He off-handedly asked if I would drive a friend home. "No big deal, hop in," I said. I'd planned on returning books to the library, but I could certainly do that after the drop off.

Taking the long way around to the library, my son and I missed a head on collision, by one car. Both drivers were okay-- shook up for sure-- but fine. My son, on the other hand, was bothered by the accident for an hour after witnessing it.

"What if we didn't drop Mike off and we just went straight to the library? We wouldn't have even seen it. What if you hadn't waited for him to get inside his house, then we might have been the car that was hit?"

The human mind has an amazing capacity for coping. My son tried to make sense of his near brush with an accident by playing the scenario out in different ways. Ways where things go well, and ways where things do not.

What if I'd chosen a different agent? What if my novel never sells to a publisher? What if critics don't care for my writing?

I've spent countless hours wondering what if. When I'm fully engaged in the sport of what ifing, I convince myself that I'm merely setting appropriate expectations. I'm preparing myself for the inevitable rejection that is part and parcel of this publishing world, cushioning potential blows.

Or am I afraid? Dare I say wallowing in self-doubt?

Playing the what if game serves a purpose, it's true. Some decisions are made with painstaking thoughtfulness. Others made in a blink. I never really know which of the decisions I've made will play out in a good way or in a disappointing way. I what if before I make decisions; afterward, I may second guess. I confess, I usually what if in the negative.

Rarely if ever do I allow myself to what if about positive things, such as what if my parenting book brings peace to otherwise conflict ridden homes? What if reviewers like my writing?

But what if instead of coping with the uncertainty of writing for readers by sinking into fear of the unknown, I embraced the notion that I am exactly where I am meant to be. The good days and the not-so-good days are filled with infinite possibilities born of faith.

Today, I choose to trust.


Therese said...

"(W)hat if...I embraced the notion that I am exactly where I am meant to be."

Wow, Lynne.

That's so empowering.

When I'm mired in self-doubt, my husband often reassures me with this: "Everything will turn out pretty much the way it's supposed to."

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...


I'm certainly not able to embrace this thinking every day, but I try. Self-doubt is a devilish little emotion. I do my best to keep it at bay. Like you, I believe everything happens as it should.


Larramie said...

Therese -- thanks to her husband's wisdom -- gave you what I learned as a child: "Everything works out for the best." And it's true because our lives are balanced.

But to believe it on a daily basis, Lynne, how about trying: "Go with the flow!"

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

What a great decision, Lynne. Choosing to trust. It can be really hard to do--especially when overwhelmed with worries. doubts, life . . . .but I find, perhaps like you, that trusting often brings me the most peace. And then, who knows?

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