Doubling down on your “what ifs”
by Joe Torres
Dangerous words, right? (Queues up Jaws theme.)
We often think about “what if” in terms of reasons why we shouldn’t do something, or as a justification for why we shouldn’t go out on a limb. We have all heard the same old argument.
“Hey Bob, did you ever call that open mic club and sign up?”
Bob laughs, shakes his head, and sheepishly says, “No…”
“Why not, Bob?” you ask.
“What if people make fun of me?”
Yes Bob, what if they make fun of you? Faceless strangers you don’t know might not like you. Nameless people whom you’ve never met and will never see again might not get your brand of humor.
I won’t be so bold as to say I have never had a “what if” moment of my own. Boy have I, as someone who has tried stand-up comedy, served in the military, and is now writing his first book. I have had plenty of “what if” moments, and I’ll most likely still have more. The only thing that I promise myself is for every first “what if” moment I experience, I will have a follow-up “what if” moment. This turns every “what if” into a glimpse of a dream.
For example, think about poor Bob. He wants to be a musician, and he’s found a local open mic night. He’s even gone as far as to attend several open mic performances to watch other musicians attempting to do the “unthinkable.” But he doesn’t sign up. Bob keeps having a single “what if” moment. He needs to double down on his “what ifs.”
“What if they hate my songs?” Having this negative “what if” is almost unavoidable. But then you follow it up with a dreamy, or as I like to call it, a “prophetic what if.” After the negative, follow up with the exact opposite: “What if they love my songs?”
Having the second moment be a positive one is the key, because the last thought you have is a positive one. “What if people hate my book?” followed by “What if people love my book?”
Now you’re starting to fantasize about an amazing world where your dreams are coming true. You know what’s going to happen if the negative scenario occurs; you’re currently living that. If you go out on a limb and it doesn’t work out, you’re no worse off than before you tried, so the only thing that could happen is something amazing. That’s the only difference here. If your negative “what if” comes to fruition, you are still unchanged, and no worse for the wear. But if your “prophetic what if” happens, your world will be forever changed.
It’s hard to live without experiencing a “what if” moment, so I say steer into the skid. I know … kinda scary … but … what if I’m right?
Joe Torres writes sci-fi adventure with heart. He is currently working on his first novel, Force of Nature. Joe lives in Gilbert, Ariz., with his wife and either the most amazing child on the planet or a demon from the depths of hell, depending on which side of nap time you find yourself.