“What” and “If” are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: What if? What if? What if? ~ Letters To Juliet
Sometimes you just want to watch a movie that makes you feel good. That makes you believe in good things, like the power of love, destiny, patience, trust. That reminds you, even if for just a moment, that choosing a different path, heading into the unknown, can be the best adventure you ever take. That following your heart is worth the risk of the unknown.
Until a few weeks ago, I had not seen the movie Letters to Juliet. I remember knowing it was in the theater but never went to see it. But in the midst of my lengthy recuperation, I stumbled upon it playing on one of the cable movie channels, catching it right as it started. I admit it is a teensy bit cheesy, and the plot has … well… a couple of holes. And there are a few continuity errors (my own particular pet-peeve in movies and books). But, dang it all, I laughed. I cheered them on. Not only Sophie and Charlie, but –most of all– Claire and Lorenzo. The promise of a second chance, the what-if of it all. To be honest, I teared up just a bit for Claire and Lorenzo’s happiness. For their long-awaited happy ending. And I ended up watching the movie again. And again.
I tried to figure out what was it that drew me like a siren song to this thing. The scenes filmed in Italy glowed golden. They made you long to be right there, right then. Vanessa Redgrave was charming, strong and utterly vulnerable at the same time. But the hook for me, finally, was when Claire (Vanessa Redgrave’s character) read Juliet’s response, written by Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), to Claire’s fifty-year-old letter.
It was the “what-if.”
“What if?” …. “What if….”
She got it right. Non-threatening on their own, but far too powerful when put together. Endless options, endings, to that beginning.
And the question can go both ways in time. Looking back, the “what if’s” in life can haunt a person. Like Claire…. what if she had made a different choice? What if she had followed her heart then? What would have been different? Everything would have changed. Looking forward, the “what if’s” can be paralyzing. What if…. I make the wrong decision? What if… things do go as planned? What if…. everything goes wrong? Or right? What if, what if, what if……
My “what if’s” tend to be focused forward, ahead, on things that have not yet happened. My tendency is to plan things out, to anticipate the possible outcomes of decisions I need to make, or have to make. To visualize what might happen. Oftentimes, I’m predisposed to focus on the things that could, might, perhaps go wrong. Somehow anticipating good, in my mind, functions like a jinx on things. But preparing for the worst, the bad things or outcomes, gives me time to prepare for it, to show the hurt less, if not really lessening the hurt.
One way I try to handle my stress, my tendency to worry, is by practicing my one-word resolution. For 2010, my word was “brave.” I promised myself to try new things, to hesitate less before doing things, to worry less about the outcome of things. For the most part, it went well. Sometimes not. In one instance, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done and brought one of the most amazing, strong, and caring individuals I know into my life.
So, here I am. At this moment, especially the next few weeks, many “what if” possibilities are coming. Some are tiny, some are not. All require confidence, my one-word for 2011. But also, optimism. Hope. A belief in dreams coming true. The confidence to follow my heart no matter the consequences. The ability to take a chance, a risk.
What if… things don’t go well? Then, life goes on. I keep going, slightly sadder, but going. Moving forward. Trying again. I’ve thought about the options. I’ve planned the possible scenarios. I’m prepared for those.
What if….? What if….. things go well?
How do you handle the “what if’s” in your world?