Whatif by Shel Silverstein
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
The Whatifs are frequent visitors in my ear. I'm in a 12-step program, which seems to make them more manageable, but then I see my backpack. At the end of the day, I often find myself wondering: Why is my bag so heavy? And then I realize that it's full of what-ifs. I've still not managed to stop myself from preparing for any eventuality.
When I was new to Zürich and immersed in the "Ex-pat" community, I got the reputation of having what one needed. I don't mean that I was their Shawshank Red or anything, but when someone needed something like a plaster or a tissue or a mint or a tampon or a pair of dry socks or a hand fan or 2 pairs of sunglasses or wet wipes or a sewing kit or a book or knitting or some change for the pay toilets or an umbrella....you get it. Someone would pop a button or cut a finger and turn to me and say "Mummy...."
For some reason, I think that I'm improving. I'm not a mummy and I don't have as many useless things in my bag, but my overly laden back pack seems to err towards a constant fear of not being distracted enough. I was walking my dog to the shops and when I was in the tram to return home, I realized that I had my Kindle, my New Yorker, my knitting and my iphone full of podcasts. All for a 2 km walk, with a dog on a leash.
But what if I did stop and need something to entertain me? Couldn't I just take in my surroundings? They weigh nothing and fit comfortably on my shoulders.