Roger Whittaker wrote a song called ‘I Don’t Believe in “If” Anymore’. These disillusioned sentiments came from his war experiences when young. The chorus is:
I don’t believe in if any more It’s an illusion If is for children.
It’s a sad song. Every time I hear it I’m struck by the power of the word if — the imagination and possibilities this little word brings into the world. What happens to someone who expunges this word from their vocabulary, who refuses to let it into their life?
As children, our imagination is limitless and possibilities are endless. But as we grow older we turn our backs on games of dragons, towers and thundering steeds beneath us as we conquer invisible foes. We let go of the power of if. Our world shrinks. We become set in our ways. Life becomes predictable and boring.
What turns little children into grumpy old people who refuse to believe things can be different?
Never asking themselves: What if?
To simplify things, I’m going to suggest that there are three states in human development:
1. The state of imagination, which you usually only experience when you’re very young.
2. The state of the solidification of reality, which you experience during most of your adult life.
3. The stage of what-ifing which you can experience any time you like.
What’s the difference between imagination and what-ifing?
Imagination is when you change the world. (This stick is a horse and that tall tree a tower. I can see a dragon in that cloud.)
What-ifing is when you change yourself. (What if I stop clinging so tightly to my point of view? What if I walked with more spring in my step?)
I’m going to do some what-ifing today:
What if I listen better in the next twenty-four hours?
What if I drop the illusion of who I think I am right now?
What if I grow radishes this year?
What if I drive down this road I’ve never been on?
What if I allow someone to go ahead of me in the checkout line?
What if I sit down and be quiet for a change?
Living with mindfulness
Here's the biggest 'what if': What if I pay attention to what is unfolding in my life today?
If isn’t just for children. It’s for everyone.
Such a little word but it can change me.
If can change the world.
Here's another question: What if you take the free 7-Day Mindfulness Challenge?
With love, Marlane
First published on Medium.com/Illumination