What If?

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the leaves are starting to well and truly turn.

road-sign-63983_1920You know those things you think you can’t do? You know what I mean. Tight rope walking, singing on stage, learning a new language? Everyone I know, myself included,  seems to have a running list of things we think we are not or things we simply can’t do. A veritable laundry list of impossibilities.

But every now and then something in life makes the world tilt ever so slightly on its axis and somehow a glimmer of possibility wriggles its way into the back of the mind. What if? What if I traveled overseas alone? What if I learned to scuba dive? What if I took that class?

My transformational what ifs started with a book. What if I could actually write one?

As many of you know the answer to that what if was a resounding yes. I did write one and then went on to write a bunch more. In the process of discovering that such a thing was possible my world tilted, a bit more than slightly, and I started to ask myself what else might be possible for me if I just stared down my laundry list of things I couldn’t do and asked instead “what if?”.

I have never thought of myself as possessing even rudimentary skills in drawing or painting but about a year ago I went to a class hosted at a friend’s house and left with a painting I still can’t believe I produced. It isn’t anything that will light the art world on fire but it far exceeds my wild imaginings of what I could ever dream of creating.

Over the last few years I’ve said yes to public speaking events in connection with my writing career even though I was a kid who couldn’t summon the voice to phone up and order a pizza. I would dial six digits and replace the handset in the cradle before reaching the seventh. My beloved little sister would have to take over and save the day if we were going to eat.

Most recently I have turned my what if question to running. By the end of today I should have completed Week 5 Day 3 of a Couch to 5K program. It takes eight weeks and I completed it once before at the beginning of the year but got sidetracked from continuing my running practice by  coming up with a bevy of creative excuses. This time I am determined to see it through and then to ask what if I could be one of those people who regularly runs? After all, I can order pizza and travel to far away lands and dabble with paint in pleasing ways.

To think, it all started with asking myself if I could write a book!

Readers, which things have you thought you could not do and yet have surprised yourself by accomplishing?

23 Thoughts

  1. This is lovely, Jessie! I love what ifs. Right now my “what if” is more along the lines of, What if I could find time and energy to declutter my office? ;^) Some years ago I worked up from jogging a mile to finishing a marathon. It took a few years but I did it and finishing Boston is an accomplishment I am very proud of. Have fun with the 5k – a five miler is next!

  2. My what if would be sharing my stories. I have a whole series I wrote for my daughter and I just have never gotten the courage to put them out in the world! I also want to travel to Europe by myself.
    I think anyone who runs in races or does a marathon is amazing!

    1. I hope you put out your stories and go one a European adventure! I bet you are already doing things routinely that other people would need to be corageous to do!

  3. Slightly off topic, but as I read your post I wanted to add that if you have children, never tell them they can’t do something–tell them to try it. Music, art, writing, sports, whatever interests them. Encourage them (but be honest). Give them credit for trying, and if they find they don’t like something, let them go on to try something else. How else will they know what they’re capable of?

  4. Years ago, I was taking a fitness class at the taekwondo school where my kids trained. One day as I was waiting for them to finish, one of the owners said, “You should start.” I didn’t think I could, but I decided to give it a try. I made it to 2nd degree Black Belt.

  5. I love this, and congrats on finishing the Couch to 5K program! I think if something is important enough to us, we can always find a way to do it.

  6. Congrats on all of your achievements. I never thought I had much potential for much of anything until I started trying things. Going to and finishing college (with high honors) as an adult, climbing mountains in Peru (or even getting there), successfully retiring, and even driving a school bus! Life has been good and rewarding.

    1. Wow! What a lovely bunch of what ifs! I think you have plucked at the center of it all; starting to try rather than assuming you can’t. It amazes me what people can do when they ask themselves what might be possible!

  7. Running hits home for me. I never would have considered anything beyond 2 miles possible, and then I heard about mud runs. Now I do a couple of 10K mud runs each year.

    And I’m looking for friends to come do the Camp Pendleton Mud Run with me in June. You could make that a goal. It involves travel, too. Maybe a Wickeds event in Southern CA?

    1. How intriguing! I think the Wickeds might enjoy a road trip at some point to your part of the world. But mud? I am not so sure about that. I suppose I would need to ask myself “what if?”…

  8. Very interesting! I have been working with my husband on various woodworking projects. Who knew I had any talent doing this?! lol

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