Those are the words of imagination. Of exploration, of conquering new worlds. Of trying a new style of clothing, car, or food.
I suffer from a lot of What If. None of it destructive, mind you, although it does hit me when I’m driving to and from work a lot (it’s on an empty back road so don’t worry…I still pay attention..). What if I drove into the middle of that cornfield? What if I turned around and drove straight to the airport and bought a ticket to San Antonio? What if I looked up into the evening sky and saw a dragon flying across the horizon?
What If can be fun. They can be dangerous.
But they also can be illuminating.
What If takes you out of your comfort zone. Out of your self-conscious ego and self-damaging thoughts. It takes you to worlds where hobbits talk with faeries and American spies get thrown into Russian prisons. It makes apples purple and skin scarlet.
What If makes you think and daydream without getting hurt. What if there really was a zombie apocalypse? I mean what if zombies were trashing the city, town, closest to you? What would you do? Where would you go? What happens if zombies are everywhere? And you’re stuck in your house? How long would it take you to run out of food? Would you sacrifice your dog or cat so they would go away?
Or what if you were walking through the park on a summer evening and a gnome walked out of the bushes and stopped and looked at you on your path? Or if a faerie landed on your shoulder? I mean, really! What would you do? How would you react?
What If can obviously take you in dark places. What If you and your friend drove off the cliff like in Thelma and Louise? What if you drank a soda that turned out to be poison? What if you fell down the stairs and you weren’t near a phone and lived alone and no one ever came to visit you?
What Ifs are a creative person’s best friend. You can take funny, scary, wonderful thoughts and turn them into make believe. Like a painting. A painting of walking down the street of 1890’s Paris is all make believe. The painter never walked those streets, saw those streetlights, or said good evening to people walking past in hats and long dresses and suits.
But they did say…What If I were walking down the streets in 1890 Paris? What would I see? How would they be dressed? What would the stores look like?
I wrote two novels about What If. What If by some accident you woke up in 1880? You knew nothing about the times, the manners, the ambitions of the people you encounter. What would you do?
Keep those What Ifs going. Write them down, paint them, grow them. Let your imagination take you on a magic carpet ride.
Which leads to…what if there really was a magic carpet and you could sit and ride on it? Where would you go? Would it be windy? Could you fall off? Would you fly into birds and bugs and….