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  • Earle Levenstein

What If?



First, a confession: I'm a recovering What-Iffer.

I mean there was a time when I was just about paralyzed by my conviction that the unforeseen was inevitable. Not possible. Inevitable. The What-Ifs?

What-If it rains before the first pitch? Why even go to the ballpark? or, What-If the movie theatre is sold out?…or, I studied my brains out, but What-If the test is all trick questions? so…

Dire expectations. Like that comic-strip character years ago; a black cloud over his head in every frame.

Didn't take a genius to figure out that the small world I was born into was not awash in unconditional love and the certainty of good things to come and the guarantee that sunshine follows rain and just you wait and see.

Mine was more like; always carry an umbrella.

Me; little kid; in our car on the way to a summer vacation; in the back seat; forgetting where I was; and who was in the car with me; announcing to everyone; "I'll bet it's going to be so much fun!"

Pause. My Mother speaks:

"Well, you never know what it'll be like, do you? We'll just have to see, won't we?"

Something could happen. What-if? this, or What-if? that, became pretty much a definite. The safe way, then, obviously would be to reduce or eliminate possibilities; the maybes; play it safe; head off a risky Why not? with a What-if?

Couldn't count the number of years it took for me to even consider the possibility of trying; opening myself to—just about anything.

Interestingly enough; I—whoever that was—would spring out on occasion; perform; audience laughing; applauding; go back under cover; burst out unexpectedly; drawing; writing…then retreat; and slowly, gradually, through the years, that character, me, the Who I am, began to occupy center stage.

In all honesty—I like the "all" in there—I have to acknowledge, being Me all the time; embracing possibilities; giving life a shot; refusing to consider that someone might be waiting to pee on my parade, does slip on occasion; always the same occasion; and the What If? pops up.

No apologies; mea culpas; beating myself up; sinking into despair; all is lost. No way. Never. But here it is:

I'm always—that's always; no exceptions—at the airport at least two to three hours before my flight is scheduled to depart.

I mean, What-if there's heavy traffic; an accident on the highway; gate change; terminal change; huge line at check-in. There are just too many possible—even probable—What-ifs to ignore.

Now, wouldn't it be foolish—wouldn't I be foolish—just on principle; to risk missing my flight? so that I can prove to myself that I'm not slipping; that the What-Ifs are alive and well…I mean—

Come on; give me a break.

Don't laugh.

OK?


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