It didn’t happen, so I thought it and it came to pass, spread before my eyes as words. A different person, one who’d never thought it, reviewed the words and it came to pass again. And it all started with what if.
In high school I read a short story Ray Bradbury wrote before I was born. There Will Come Soft Rains was the first story that more than entertained me. It made me think. It pushed its way into my brain and left me dwelling on it for weeks after. It made me keenly aware of extraordinary writing presented without a living person uttering dialog. I’d read excellent books, but that short story stole my air.
What if I could write like that?
All these decades later—too many decades later—I’m finally pursuing that thought.
Our ability to what if is part of our human makeup. I’m not a behaviorist or a scientist in any sense of the word, but I suspect the rest of the animal world is more ruled by other words. My thoughts, though, are centered around what if. It’s ruled human history.
What if I wasn’t stuck in this tree and could forage for food where I wanted?
What if I built a shelter for protection?
What if I had heat in my home?
What if I had indoor plumbing?
What if I had cable and more than 200 stations?
What if I had one device to operate everything in my home?
What if I embraced nature and grew trees in my house so I could sit in one?
What if. It’s vital for scientists, inventors, and even comedians. Even those who believe they possess little imagination perform what if all the time. What if I went with lighter drapes, home siding, hair?
Those two words have driven much of history, both in positive and negative ways. Those two words have led to freedoms, life-saving inventions, and extraordinary feats like Juno circling Jupiter as I write this. Those two words have also formed in twisted minds that found ways exterminate human beings. They’ve also contributed to a warming planet and are what we need if we’re to save it.
Of course, I doubt anyone started out with, What if Earth was more like Venus?
Which brings me to the what if maniacs, those who go, not a step farther, but who run amuck with the what if concept until they drop into an exhausted slumber before rising the following day to repeat the process. People like me. Writers. No measured glass of what if for us. We jump into the pool at the deep end and risk drowning.
Quite frankly, we what if the sh*t out of the world.
Some of us what if ourselves into a different world. We see what isn’t there. We hear dialog not spoken. We interact with people who don’t exist.
Yesterday, I completed yet another short story and answered more strange questions few would explore. What if you could purchase more present day time? What if purchasing more time became an addiction you couldn’t afford to support? What if your abandoned children discovered your truth and discovered their own truth in the aftermath? That story led to Ray Bradbury and this post, which in turn sent me headlong into another short story.
Have your own what ifs? This world is in serious need of all manner of ideas. Every crisis cries out for problem solvers, doers, and leaders, but beforehand, during, and after there are the writers asking questions. Those questions entertain, but also inspire thought, which in turn leads to more writers and more problem solvers, doers, and leaders.
Ready? Let’s what if the sh*t out of this world. For the betterment of all.