Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What If...?: a collective list

What if we stayed in touch with our imaginary friends all our lives?

What if I go into the garden tonight, dig a hole, and plant those red suede shoes I haven't seen in 45 years (but can't stop thinking about) and then tomorrow morning — voila — a flowering rose bush is waiting to greet me in that exact spot?

What if people just minded their own business?

What if I kept my vows?

What if today I meet the love of my life?

What if we don't know where we're going?

What if we find the secret path?

What if you are telling me the truth?

What if I let go of yesterday's disappointment and see the promise of today?

What if everyone smiled at strangers?

What if you woke up every morning and found white feathers in your bed? 

What if you could hear what the ants are saying to each other as they nibble the candy coating off the M&M you lost behind the stove?

What if I started driving and never stopped?

What if I weren't me and you weren't you?

What if we weren't friends?

What if I wasn't wearing clean underwear and I got into an accident?

What if we cleaned up the whole world, and the oceans and the air and water, and we figured out how to live without plastic and oil and cigarettes, and a couple of generations later all the people thought we had always done it that way, so they kept on?

What if my sister comes to visit and never goes home?

What if the stars all move and we have to think up names for all the new constellations?

What if we went to the beach and found that all the shells that washed up that day were blue, beautiful peacock blue?

What if I start today, right now, and make robot art just because I haven’t ever done it before?

What if I could sing like Maria Callas and dance like Isadora Duncan?

What if everyone's heart beat in time to a different jazz record?

What if I could sleep peacefully for nine hours straight one night?

What if animals spoke English and Spanish and people meowed and mooed?

What if we had springs on our feet and bounced instead of walked?

What if stretch marks, spider veins, and cellulite were the new sexy?

What if we all were snowflakes, drifting down, passing each other in our solo flights, not really believing no two of us are the same?

What if I were to bake a loaf of homemade bread and bring it to the rude postal clerk?

What if my prayers were always answered and I had to decide who and what to pray for?

What if none of my shoes fit?

What if you kissed someone else?

What if you woke up from your dream and you were in the middle of a group of buildings, it was daylight, and you were in your pajamas?

What if children came with an instruction manual?

What if there were no time zones?

What if you could jump out of a plane and the clouds would catch you?

What if laziness was revered and industriousness was met with skepticism and sidelong glances?

What if there was an app for sending smells to each other?

What if we came equipped with a tuner that allowed us to adjust our hearing so we could understand any animal, vegetable or mineral language?

What if being fully present, right here, right now, is actually the ultimate superpower?

What if the next person I saw on the street turned into a life-long friend?

What if I moved back to the Caribbean where I grew up, after almost 40 years of living in Ithaca?

What if shallow breathing and chronic neck pain are actually connected?

What if I decide to shave my head, pierce my nose and get a tattoo.

What if I had taken the teaching job in Hong Kong rather than Vancouver Island?

What if I'd chosen a quiet middle aged cat at the shelter instead of the two rambunctious boy brothers?

What if I go out and buy that ticket for the Moscow to Vladivostok railway.

What if, with one gentle word, you can topple this fortress in my heart?

What if this is my last ruby-red-currant summer?

What if I decide I want to learn to surf ocean waves when I live on the prairie?

What if all of the bees die, then who will sing of the linden’s perfume?

What if that starling, now singing its medley of songs, is telling me of her joys and sorrows, only I don’t speak her language?

What if I find my voice and it’s sassy and sharp and uncompromising?

What if I’m done being nice but want to be wise and skillful?

What if, like the swallows, we band together and our collective fierceness, skill, and strategy allows us to protect what we love?

What if a record continued playing after the music ended?
What if the best book ever written will never be published?
What if the best songs are being sung by red wing blackbirds?
What if you received a message in a bottle that said “How?”
What if you began each sentence with “thank you” for the next week?
What if solar systems came and went like songs on the radio?
What if the ocean walked on two legs?
What if I walked on water and some frogs saw me and laughed?
What if waiting rooms had neon signs that said things like “Wait at Joe’s”?
What if no one ever asked questions like “Who do you think would win in a fight…”?
What if every person on earth laughed at the same time?
What if you had a ticket to spend a week anywhere in the world with your mother?
What if we really did choose our families when we were still spirits waiting to be born?
What if we couldn’t dream at all?
What if I won the next election through write-in ballots?
What if the local restaurants started separating groups into sections for quiet people, obnoxious people, and the food-flingers?
What if I called the number on the bathroom stall?
What if a person could spend one day as the opposite gender?
What if a superhero was among us but was hiding it very, very well?
What if you could change one event in your past?
What if you could change one thing about yourself?
What if you discovered you have a rich aunt?
What if everyone stopped doing for a whole day?
What if we walked away from our lives to find new ones every year?
What if we lived in a perpetual semi-dark and icy land and loved it?
What if what came at the end of the day was another sunrise?
What if we could drink the shimmering night sky?
What if I have wings like a hummingbird’s, and they move so fast you cannot see them?
What if you only imagine I am here?
What if I am wrong and this is the only life I ever had or will have?
What if I had never heard Jimi Hendrix?
What if I had never believed in magic?
What if I had not seen the line to cross over into this beautiful life I have?
What if you are not judged by the company you keep but by the swing of your hips or the length of your stride?

What if I had had different parents — would I have had the courage to pursue all of my dreams?

What if I had not been born — would the world notice my absence?

What if he hadn't asked to kiss me goodnight?

What if she simply decides to be herself?

What if we started sending each other letters again?

What if we chose kindness over fear and self-interest?

What if people said what is true?

What if it was all a mistake?

What if if all wasn't a mistake?

What if I go back to Africa and they sing and sing and sing to me and ask me to stay and I write stories like Isak Dinesen?

What if we visit Seattle and move there, get a cat named Sopapilla, and then have a baby?

What if I run away and change my name and become an undertaker in Japan?

What if I learn the cello, run a marathon, take a science class, have dinner parties, get a manicure, teach dance, open a grocery, visit historical monuments, buy fancy jewelry, ride in a hot air balloon, wear a bikini on the beach, take vacations?

What if people stayed five years old forever?

What if people who needed wide-ruled paper couldn't buy it anymore?

What if things aren't as bad as I think?

What if I became the world expert on jacks — would I get to go on TV?

What if we got a year younger every year rather than a year older?

What if we only bought and wore clothes we have always shied away from?

What if we all changed our name every five years?

What if we no longer needed to sleep?

What if you got to choose the title for the book about your life?

What if you did get the answers to your most pressing questions?

What if you could delete regrettable words that were foolishly spoken in haste?

What if he never gets to the point?

What if this story never ends?

What if every time you opened your mouth to speak you sounded like a mezzo soprano singing a solo in a Puccini opera?

What if you had a magical remote control that could mute all the annoying sounds around you at any given moment?

What if he had never taken that motorcycle ride last Wednesday — would we still be having his wake?

What if my sister had not found out she has stage 4 cancer — would we still be giving each other the silent treatment?

What if people who have changed the world for the better never asked themselves the question "what if?"

What if my mother's first pregnancy had not ended in miscarriage and I had grown up with an older brother?

What if I lived near the ocean and could walk on the beach anytime I wanted?

What if I had pursued a career as a singer?

What if an ear of corn was shaped like an ear? 

What if I shaved one eyebrow — would I look surprised?

What if we had minds like picket fences and not steel traps?

What if my red balloon stayed afloat?

What if I forget what my mother looked like?

What if I loved myself (and my spouse) as much as I love my children? 

What if the birth mother had changed her mind?

What if the Earth began to spin a little faster?

What if Florida wouldn't let in anymore old people?

What if whales swam through the air, instead of in water?

What if I could live my life over again?

What if twins don't like each other?

What if I knew what I wanted?
What if I fall through the cracks and can’t find my way back?
What if I don’t see because I’m not looking, and I take the wrong path?
What if I call your name and you answer me, but we’re in different time and space frequencies so that our voices pass each other, unheard?
What if I could have my choice but can’t choose and end up with nothing?
What if I could stop doing and be?
What if every single man, woman and child of us on this earth could all take a deep breath together and be one?
What if I wasn't afraid of anything?

What if I never made any mistakes how would my life be different?

What if I had enough time to do all the things I want to do, like read the books I've always wanted to read?

What if I never had to say good-bye?

What if everyone told the truth; would that be hard on relationships?

What if my dreams are trying to tell me something?

What if a smile meant upset, and a frown meant happy?

What if I told you everything?

What if every single person cared even just a tiny bit about taking care of the Earth?

What if we all give up our cell phones one day and go back to landlines, phone booths, and planning ahead?

What if I made the rules?

What if I ignored the rules?

What if money melted into sticky goop in our pockets, like chocolate on a warm day?

What if band-aids fixed everything?

What if there were more lefties than righties?

What if we had both had a good think, and then a good talk, and figured it all out together?

What if tears were a valuable resource, and there were crying centers with chopped onions in the ventilation system and sad documentaries screened daily?

What if Crocs become the hottest thing in vintage fashion in 2028?

What if canned soup were really candle soup, and it always stayed hot and light, but tasted waxy?

What if Yoko married Paul?

What if your skin was literally clear?

What if radio had another golden age?

What if you had the power to heal others with the touch of your hands, but you could only do it ten times in your life?

What if you could chuck it all and live on a sailboat?

What if you could live inside a movie?

What if I could go everyplace in my pajamas?

What if I lived in a treehouse?

What if I really read all the "classics"?

What if money was no object?

What if I was still young?

What if peace broke out?

What if we didn't have opposable thumbs?

What if we viewed each other as we view nature, with no wrongs or rights or ugly or beautiful — no judgments —  just acceptance of what is?

What if I didn't have to fake it with you?

What if he hadn't died, would I still love him?

What if I took your hand and held it tenderly, the way I wish you would mine?

What if I had kissed her, long and sweet, the way I really wanted to?

What if I just drank, and drank, and drank some more?

What if we get lost?

What if we run out of money?

What if I never find someone sane to love?

What if I reach the age of ninety?

What if meanness suddenly became extinct?

What if everyone biked?

What if all of my family lived nearby?

What if it doesn't work?

What if it all works out? 

What if I dreamed the words "let go"? 

What if summer was canceled?

What if you bought a motorcycle and revved it up real good?

What if I learned to accept things, to see myself as a drop in the ocean?

What if you had integrity?

What if you weren't a coward?

What if I was the "other girl"?

What if my life was valuable to you?

What if you think of me every time I think of you?

What if you actually made an effort for me?

What if you honestly thought that I'm good enough for you?

What if I'm writing this sentence because we were supposed to be Skyping right now but you wouldn't wait three more minutes?

What if the seasons forget to change?

What if the glass breaks, a draft comes in, and I get cold?

What if my life was narrated by music?

What if it would've made a difference if I'd called?

What if everyone was silent, just for a little while? 

What if I really knew what you were thinking?

What if we could understand foreign languages at will? 

What if my knees didn't hurt and I could ski again?

What if I could hold the weight of the ocean?

What if cold had no effect on my body and I could swim naked with penguins in Antarctica?

What if heat had no effect on my body and I could sit in Death Valley, watch the cactus bloom, and write a poem to you?

What if you desired me?

What if the alphabet started at T — which way would it go?

What if we could start again?

What if I weren’t visually impaired?

What if I didn't love the living world?

What if I hadn't read that book?

What if jealousy didn't exist?

What if Cayuga Lake had a resident monster?

What if humans had gills?

What if dragonflies were big enough to prey on humans?

What if books had never been invented?

What if I was a goat man? 

What if it became impossible to not see how we are all connected?

What if chickens lay golden eggs but the white and brown ones were rare and precious?

What if orbs are really spirits, hovering curiously, finally recognized by digital photography?

What if greed, violence and fear ceased to exist and humans lived up to their creative potential?

What if books grew on trees and leaves were covered with words, tales from the earth?

What if we had two moons, not one, one silver and one blue?

What if learning to dance well was the most important priority of our school years?

What if 2000 years from now Harry Potter books are thought to be divine?

What if people had more quiet in their conversations?

What if flowers had their own songs?

What if employers had to pay for their employees to have a massage every 8 hours?

What if sunflowers actually made light?

What if I stopped apologizing for things I’m not sorry for?

What if I'd used my library voice?

What if everyone is wrong when they say I've done everything right?

What if I had to choose between a pesto-and-goat-cheese panini and the greatest thing that would ever happen to me?

What if everything is perfect exactly as it is?

What if my Grandma Kelly, who passed in 1986, is sitting at the dining room table that belonged to her when I come  home one day?

What if a bike ride changes everything?

What if my thoughts could be heard?

What if I give it a try?

What if we never wondered “what if”?

What if you could make one of these questions come true if you snapped your fingers right . . . now?

Thank you to all these wonderful contributors:

Anne Killian-Russo
Antonia Matthew
Barbara Ann Force
Barbara West
Blue Waters
Carol Kammen
Caterina Fusca
Chaya Spector
Dawn Apanius
Diana Kreutzer
Donna Holt
Dulcie Feinstein
Eleni Rigas
Gay Huddle
Gina O'Donnell
Gwen Glazer
Irene Komor
Jackie Parslow
Jackson Petsche
Jennifer Groff
Joyce Frank
Karryn Olson-Ramanujan
Kathleen Kramer
Kaye Stone
Kira Lallas
Laura LaRosa
Lottie Sweeney
Lynne Taetzsch
Margaret Dennis
Margaret Strumpf
Maude Rith
Mieke Ruina
Mihal Ronen
Nelie Rea
Patrick Robbins
Paula Peters Marra
Peggy Miller
Railey Savage
Rebecca Weger
Richie Holtz
Rita Feinstein
Roxanne VanWormer
Sara Robbins
Sasha Paris
Sharon K. Yntema
Sophie Apanius
Sue Heavenrich
Sue Neuenschwander
Summer Killian
Vickie VanCamp
Victoria Armstrong
Zee Zahava