A song I wrote some years ago that began with the proverbial “What if?”
If we could hold back the seasons
From giving us years,
We’d stop the hands of time,
And stay endless tears, (and so forth)
Scientists need ‘What if?’ as a basic leg in the scientific method, trial and error. Change one parameter to bring about a desired outcome, or not. Board game players run scenarios in their minds, the best of them with more than a dozen moves worked out ahead of time before a play. Governments with nuclear capability run the ‘What if’ scenarios in the War Room, the object being to get one-up on their perceived enemy.
Unfortunately, when tragedy strikes we humans work the ‘What if?’ ad infinitum. Its so easy to look back at the choices we make in life and postulate alternate outcomes. Yet too often contemplating the ‘What ifs’ tends to dull our perceptions, and sharpen the end of the finger wishing to cast blame for the outcome handed to us. Case in point, when I made the decision to move my family geographically, no one could anticipate that soon afterward our young son Stephen would suddenly fall ill and die in a matter of hours!
Working the ‘What if?’ is near mid-evil-ish, like when a supposed witch was subjected to the trial by water. If she survived, she had done so by witch’s power. Conversely, if she drowned, she wasn’t a witch, simply a dead woman who passed the test! I doubt we will ever stop ‘What if-ing,’ it’s in our nature to challenge those life outcomes handed us, yet, still there remains an uncertainty, a not knowing that bugs the hell out of us. What if we could hold back the seasons?