What if . . . ?


Most of you know I’m a glass more than half full person and Sid often sees the glass a little more empty. We are a great combination since with his engineering background he often grounds my unicorn flying on rainbows ideas. Together we do pretty good planning most of the time, knowing the best planning comes from listening to our Abba.


During one of our adventures awhile back, we had encountered some unanticipated engine problems with our RV. It decided to break down as we were driving to the Adirondacks to go tent camping via Beacon, NY, as we squeezed in a visit to our kids and grandkids “on the way”. Yes, you’re right, the way from Maine to the Adirondacks is not via New York. Sid used to say I like to live two lives in one. He’s lately upped that to four at a time. 😊


With having to pull over and restart the engine about every ten minutes, it had been a stressful, long drive to Beacon. To make matters worse, just as we arrived we received a call that the electricity was out at our rental property in Florida and our renters had just arrived. Many phone calls later, that was managed. There were a number of other worrisome events but we finally were able to enjoy the play performance of our delightful grandchildren before boondocking at the W, (local Walmart), for the night. The next morning we made it as far as Poughkeepsie where we were fortunate enough to be able to leave the RV for repair. As we just started the drive at 8 AM in a rental car (Oy!) to the Adirondacks which from Poughkeepsie is only about a four hour drive, Sid said, “I hope we get there in time to pitch our tent before dark.”


I’m usually a patient person, but with the chain of events that we had just been through my coping skills were being challenged, so I blurted out, “I refuse to go down your bunny trail of darkness!” He retorted, “Well I refuse to ride your rainbow flying unicorn!” We looked at each other, started laughing, enjoying our drive from that point forward. (We also made it to the Adirondacks with hours to spare).


The “what ifs” are important. They help us in our planning, but they have a time and a place. More often, if we start to worry about something that we have no control over, all these thoughts do is add to our stress. If we think about the possible contingencies too early in the chain of events, they do not help us have any more ability to change the situation, and yet, they cause us emotional angst.


We all know that we have no control over life anyway, but since HaShem allows us to co-create by the decisions we make, we do have input by our words and actions. The challenge is to make those choices, say those words, take those actions, when they can be meaningful to the process.


The bunny trail of darkness has now become a phrase Sid and I actively use. If something presents itself as a question or challenge, we analyze whether there is something we can do or say at that moment that would make a difference in the result. If so, we try to make a meaningful choice. If not, we catch each other that actually one of us is about to go down the bunny trail of darkness.


I had not received the deposit for the rental of our Florida property when expected. Two weeks had gone by since I had sent our prospective tenant the paperwork and based on a FaceBook post, it looked like she was still looking for a place to stay. My mind created several negative possibilities so I worried and decided to reach out to her. It turned out she had been out of town and was going to send back the rental agreement and check when she returned. Sid smilingly said, “See, you went down the bunny trail of darkness.”


Yes, I had – What if she has changed her mind? What if the other person who was interested has found another place? What if we can’t find another renter? What if it would be better to rent it through Airbnb? Instead of playing through the what ifs in my head assuming the worst, the situation would have been less stressful to say it’s only April 15th, give it a little time and see what happens, take a peek down the bunny trail but don’t enter it. Or use the what ifs to realize that even if she did renege, we have plenty of time to find another renter, to help me to not worry instead of to worry.


On the other hand, by peeking down the bunny trail and only slightly entering it, I did choose to reach out to her to see if she was still interested in renting. That was an action I could take to find out more information (in contrast to worrying about setting up a tent before dark, an activity over which we could take no meaningful action from a car eight hours earlier.) Had the renter said she had changed her mind, I would have had ample time to find another renter.


The what ifs are extremely useful if there is something we can say or do at that time that could affect the outcome. They are also helpful if analyzing them helps us emotionally to feel better about the situation. Going through them to a conclusion of what is the worst that can happen and realizing it would not be so bad can help us to relax. On the other hand, they often just add to our already stressful feelings about a situation we have no ability to change. Being able to differentiate when the what ifs can serve rather than derail us is an important tool as we face life’s many challenges.


Most importantly, as we catch ourselves peeking into the rabbit hole before descending down the trail, seeing the slip with laughter rather than despair can help each of us so greatly enjoy another


Shabbat shalom.


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