Every time I begin a thought with “What if” I risk getting myself locked up in emotions and memories that feel like a hamster’s wheel. As our anniversary rolls around, I could wonder:
- What if I hadn’t gone to Ecuador in the fall of 1968? (For that matter, what if I had straightened up and flown a saner course years previously?)
- What if I had not met Sue and Walter Paynter, in Ecuador, who knew Doug from Georgetown Law School?
- What if Doug had stayed longer at the H.U.D. going-away-party, and missed our blind date?
Wondering “what-if” may be a useful tool if I get serious about writing the great American novel.
“One of the problems of being a storyteller is the cultivated ability to extrapolate; in every situation all the what ifs come to me.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother
Clearly, the uncultivated ability to extrapolate all the what ifs is the cement in my persistent writer’s blocks.
Nevertheless, for now I am oh so glad I got on that plane, met the Paynters in Ecuador, and that Doug remembered he’d agreed to come meet me on December 5, 1969.
We are at that anticipated life stage when we have the time to reflect on many things. So, it’s good having memory lapses. But I haven’t forgotten this: It’s been better being in the moment, walking hand-in hand with Doug than locked up with regrets and fears that wondering what if’s spawn.
We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love. ~Robert Fulghum, True Love
Previous Anniversary Celebrations you might like to revisit: