Can we take our what-ifs and turn them into why-nots?

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that I got food poisoning from a rogue avocado, that cad. I started to get better, and I was excited to sit on the deck, under the budding willow, basking in the spring sunshine. It was lovely, I was hopeful, so naturally, my body decided it was overdue for some mischief, that little rascal.

At the risk of repeating myself- my apologies- I’ve had a kidney transplant so, I take anti-rejection medications. Those drugs lower my immune system, and it makes me extremely vulnerable to infection. That little bought of food poisoning should’ve resolved in a couple of days. But, oh no, it blew up into a full-blown case of gastroenteritis.

I’ll spare you the gory details, you’re welcome. If you’re curious, feel free to search the inter-webs. Just don’t look up any images. Ew, I’ll never make that mistake again. (Little did she know that she would make make that same mistake many, many times.)

Needless to say, my digestive system is misbehaving. I’ve spent a good chunk of time resting or running to the facilities. Whoever invented the hot water bottle is a godsend because it’s the only thing keeping the cramps in check. Bless you, good person. Bless you.

Since I’ve been ill, I haven’t left my home in well over a week. Two weeks? How long has it been? I don’t know. Carry the two and divide it by the number of monkeys jumping on my bed. What? Time is an illusion and a mischievous one to boot.

Oh, if you’re worried that this will turn into a woe-is-me kind of post? Never fear, I’m not feeling particularly woeful about my current circumstances. Annoyed, fed-up, and grasping for anything that has curative properties? Yes, for sure, and absolutely. But melancholy or woebegone? Nope, I’ve entered a rather dreamy state.

Perhaps a delusional one? Should I be worried? Nah, that’s too much effort, and I can’t be bothered. I think I’m going to stick to my dreamy little fantasy. It’s cozy, snuggly, and full of what if’s. The possibilities are endless. If only I didn’t have to wake up but, that’s a problem for another day.

While I’ve spent most of my time feeling ill and pitiful, I’ve had fits of creativity and an undeniable urge to put words on a page. How can I resist the allure of a thesaurus or the hypnotic power of a blinking cursor? Impossible! So, in these whimsical yet fleeting moments, I embrace the trance-like state. I let my imagination paint over reality, and I take a vacation in my own mind.

Where will it take me today? Sometimes I explore serious issues surrounding the meaning of my existence or my mental health. Other times I’m goofy, and I enjoy some decent wordplay. Then there are moments like this one where I gaze into my future and wonder where I’ll be a year from now or five years. 

Oddly enough, my future thought experiment was triggered by my past. Or, more specifically, it was a memory of a childhood dream that I had unceremoniously dismissed. It seemed too fanciful. How could it actually turn into reality? It rested in the same vein as flying to the moon on the back of a big red dog. It would be awesome if it were actually possible, but it’s not, so I said goodbye.

But now, curled up with my dog and a hot water bottle, I wonder what if? 

When I was a kid we travelled quite a bit. Most of the time, it was for my dad’s job. He’s a pastor and, if my memory’s correct— that’s a big if— we used to travel every other weekend. He was often asked to preach in some distant town, village, or what-have-you. They were remote locations that were sparsely populated and didn’t have a church of their own. 

Since they asked for some spiritual guidance, my dad would help where he could, and we went with him. The religious portion of the trip was well out of the scope of a six-year-old. I don’t remember much about all of that, but I remember travelling. 

We got to see parts of Canada that very few people see. I would go further and say that most people have never heard of some of those places. They were communities of less than a hundred people. The nearest grocery stores were several hours away. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you might not realize that these places were populated at all.

Wait, did we just drive past a house? Nah, couldn’t be. Not way out here in the middle of f*ck all. But there were homes tucked into those faraway places, and we were welcomed with kindness and warmth. The hospitality was unparalleled. It’s the kind of fellowship that’s unique to the backcountry. It’s open, unwavering generosity, and a genuine curiosity about our lives. It’s actually quite a special place.

Road trips were our preferred mode of transportation. It was cheaper than flying, but cramming two squirming kids into the back of a small car for several hours? That must’ve been a challenge. Bless my parents! I don’t know how they put up with us fighting over ownership of our seats

This is my side, that’s your side, and don’t cross the line. Mom, he crossed the line! It was a finger. I saw it! Did anyone else have this fight with their siblings?

My dad, the legend, never pulled the car over, not once. He threatened to do so on many occasions but resisted the impulse. If that’s not a demonstration of excellent self-control, I don’t know what is. Teach your kids by example. Was that the lesson there? Or was it, just get there as fast as you can with as many lifeforms intact as possible? Mm, let’s give parents the benefit of the doubt. It was a life lesson.

I have to be completely honest with you. As a kid, I kinda hated being dragged all over the place. I wanted to stay home, in my closet fort, with my books. I still think that’s the ideal way to spend a day but, I’m kind of tired of it. It’s been done over and over. Sure, it’s comfortable, but it’s become stale. No, I don’t want to be uncomfortable, but I miss going out on adventures.

Looking back, those hours spent in that car were some of the best of my life. I’m fortunate to have had the chance to see so much of this country. And I’m lucky to have travelled to as many countries as I have. How many people dream about traversing the globe before their flight is permanently cancelled? I got to go out there and live the dream. That’s pretty damn amazing.

My sweet single-digit self, fresh off learning how to read, dreamed of books and closet forts. As I got older and we travelled a lot less, the dream changed. I desperately wanted to be back in that car, fighting with my brother and listening to storybooks on tape. I wanted to get on a plane and fly away to parts unknown.

It was an itch that we wanted to scratch, but life got in the way. Our circumstances changed, and my health challenges increased. We had to stay closer to home just in case my chronic illnesses kicked off. It was such a buzz kill.

Even though travelling dwindled, we still watched a lot of travel shows and talked about the day when life stepped aside. There were a lot of somedays and maybes mentioned. We asked a lot of what if’s and made plans that never manifested. That was okay, though. Sometimes, when the dream is all you have, it’s okay to temporarily surrender to it and live vicariously through the daydream.

That’s where this silly dream, the one I threw out with my toys, was born. It came out of wonder, amazement, and a little intrigue. Did you know some people get paid to travel? It’s a real job with tax forms, dental plans, and all those grown-up things. Seriously, it’s an actual profession, even though no one mentions it on career day at school.

Also, no one tells you how to get that kind of job. Is that why I threw that dream in the waste bin? Sure, I saw people doing it on those shows, but there’s no way I could do it. Never. It’s impossible. It can’t happen.

But why can’t it?

No, I’m not making an announcement. Nothing exciting has happened and, if I’m being a downer, nothing like that will ever happen. No, shake it off. I said this wouldn’t be full of woe or self-pity. It’s a dream! These words, that idea, the list of what-ifs are fun little fantasies. It makes me happy, and endorphins have curative properties. 

Maybe. Possibly. I’m not a scientist, but it sounds like that should be a thing. It can’t hurt so, I’m playing around with a past dream and wondering if I can make it my future.

Since I’ve been stuck at home, I’ve been watching a lot of travel vlogs on Youtube. It’s tickling my brain and tugging at my homebody heart. The world might be small, but it’s filled with so much cool stuff. Not only are there incredible things to see, but there are diverse ways of life to explore and people to meet. 

Some cultures seem so different from my own, and that’s marvellous. The way you live your life in your community. Your world view based on a different upbringing. The foods you eat that I’ve never heard of. Sure, it’s normal for you, but I’d give anything to give it a try just once. 

It’s a dream! An incredible, beautiful thought experiment that’s giving me hope at a moment when my life is incredibly short-sighted. I’ve been stuck inside, and my community is under heavy restrictions. It’s all necessary, and I’m not complaining. I am, however, indulging in childish fantasies and old what-ifs because it’s all I have right now.

Should I dismiss the dream and come back to reality? Or— and this is just a tired mind grasping for another reason to be hopeful— is this the right time to explore mere possibilities? Can we take our what-ifs and turn them into why-nots? All of those some days? Is it possible to bring them into the present?

The only answer I have right now is simply: That would be amazing.

I typed those words, and my little daydreamer asked again, why not? What’s stopping me from exploring my world. Yes, with our restrictions and travel bans, I can’t go very far, but there’s a world outside my front door. There are ways to go out safely, respect our current circumstances, and explore. So, what’s stopping me?

Other than fear and my own insecurities? Is that all that’s stopping me from turning a childish dream into my reality? 

I’m biting my top lip a little harder. Anxiety and excitement are doing strange things to my stomach. Sure, it could be the virus in my gastrointestinal system or is it something else? Like, two questions banging around in my head. Why not? What’s stopping you?

I don’t have a firm answer- or not one I care to acknowledge- so I’m turning it around. What’s stopping you from chasing a dream? Big or small. New or old. Childish or wild fantasy. Why haven’t you pursued a version of reality that’s more attainable given your circumstances?

If you have chased a dream then, what was the catalyst? What got you to turn a fantasy into reality? I’m genuinely curious, and I’m looking for inspiration or perhaps a place to start.

For now, I’m going to go back to the travel vlogs and live vicariously while I recover. I’ll live in the dream until reality forces be back into the real world. Maybe, by then, I’ll have figured out a way to combine the two. Mm, now that would be lovely.


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