The nighttime Whatifs

Just re-read this poem the other day from Shel Silverstein. It’s funny, as a kid, this one rarely resonated with me. Today, as I’ve recently quit my nice, stable job in a floundering economy, in order to take a trip of unknown magnitude – this poem seems surprisingly on par with my line of thinking as of late. Here it is:

Shel Silverstein’s “Whatif”

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 tall?
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 swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Most of my nighttime whatifs are a bit more fatalistic, and revolve around things like mosquito-borne diseases or angry flash-mobs, but the principal remains strong. But, I continue to believe that fear in an of itself isn’t a good way to make decisions – so my own nagging Whatis are free to bugger off.

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