The What If Game

The real happiness of life is…to enjoy the present, without any anxious dependence on the future.” – Seneca

I was dropping my daughter off for an outdoor class the other day and she was already a little nervous because her friend that is also signed up for the class wasn’t coming. Then we arrived and she saw that there was a substitute coach that she didn’t know as well and he had an Eastern European accent that made him a little difficult to understand. The perfect storm. Her anxiety was real and she started with the what if questions: What if he asks me to do something and I don’t understand? What if I say something and he can’t hear me because of my mask? For each question I answered, there were at least two more.

When I awoke this morning, my mind was filled with it’s own what if’s. Questions because it’s August and as I mentioned in this post listing the lessons I learned over 20 years of owning my own business, my work is always slower in August. Questions because the school year is about to start for my daughter. Questions because the Delta variant is surging.

All valid questions and the anxiety is real. But as my mind raced through all the troublesome scenarios that could happen, each of them scarier than the previous because they were building, my foot started to itch. As I reached down to scratch it, I realized that it was the only thing that was happening at that moment that I needed to attend to. From there, I just needed to find the next thing to do which was to make a cup of tea and meditate. As I write this, I still have all the questions about what the future will bring but the awareness that in this moment right now, life is actually just fine. In a few minutes I will wake up the kids and keep finding my way through the day by identifying the next thing to do.

When I was dropping my daughter off and the questions kept coming, I said to her, “I’m not going to play the what if game. You are resourceful and capable of handling this class and no matter what, it only lasts one hour.” It worked and she had a great time. I’m finding it works when I give myself that speech too.

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