What if "What if?" was a holiday?

Did you ever see the movie "The Family Man?"

I loved that movie (the last 15 minutes KILLS me every time) and I loved the premise—a peek into what life could have been if you had made a different choice.

As part of my blogging group's monthly exercise, we were tossed this question—create a new holiday you believe should exist. So I propose this—a day once a year where people have the opportunity to explore what could have been.

What if, for example, you ...

  • Chose a different college?
  • Turned down that job offer to backpack across Europe?
  • Didn't have sex the night you conceived one of your kids?
  • Said, "Eff it, I'm ordering dessert tonight."
  • Stayed up all night watching craptastic television instead of getting a good night's sleep before work?
  • Agreed to that PTA position?
  • Said "No" when you were asked to volunteer on your day off?
  • Told a relative what you REALLY thought?
  • Said "Yes" when Maks asked you to be his partner on "Dancing with the Stars?"

Life's full of "What if?"s—and you know you've thought the thought more than once. And it seems more often than not, they're grounded in wishful thinking at best, or regret, at worst. I'm not sure either of those mindsets are healthy to sustain for extended periods of time, but I wonder what kind of benefit could be found in a one-day holiday from reality to explore our respective parallel universes.

Would taking that break offer perspective? That old adage, "The grass is always greener ..." is grounded in that view-from-the-other-side perspective. That a job you once thought awful maybe wasn't so bad. That while your kids may have sucked the soul out of you, living alone could be equally crushing. That perhaps if you had tried harder in high school, pushed yourself to excel at an early age, you would most definitely not be living a ho-hum life you think you have, but ... it would be different. The spouse, the kids, the home, the community. All different.

When you are in the thick of wishful thinking, the thick of frustration and regret, "The grass is always greener" seems like nothing but lip service. So maybe, once a year, wading through what life could have been like would be a much more effective salve on the soul. Or, maybe you'd find out you married one of People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive, became a bestselling author and lived in Maui. (Maybe it's best to institute some kind of "Ain't no fantasy thing happenin' here" rule prior to flipping the switch on the Wayback Machine.)

Just once a year. One day where you could discover that saying what's on your mind isn't always the best idea, no matter how much you want to tell a relative to shove it. Where you discover that kids that look trouble-free are sometimes more challenging than the ones that really do belong to you. Where your job isn't always supposed to be the end-all, be-all, because that's what your family really is. And that the person you picked to spend the rest of your life with is well worth any other "What could have been"s.

I blather about books. Like to read? Need a good suggestion? Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

I am also on Facebook, trolling for friends. If you are looking for something good to read, here are a few of my reviews:

Slowing Time

Five Days Left

The Book of Unknown Americans

The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man

Rooms

How to Build a Girl

Live From New York

Filed under: mumbo jumbo

Leave a comment