What If…

Do you know anyone who seems to be living a “what if” life? What if this horrible thing happens–or something even worse? How can he or she ever deal with it?

That doesn’t sound like a desirable way to live, does it?

A certain amount of “what if-ing” is probably normal, however. Maybe even desirable.

If we don’t say, “What if I come down with a serious illness?” we might not make sure we have medical insurance, get regular checkups, eat healthy foods, and get the right amount of sleep and exercise.

If we don’t say, “What if I lose my job–or some major expense comes up?” we might fail to set aside money to build an adequate emergency fund.

If we don’t say, “What if the cat knocks the lighted candle over while I’m out and burns the house down,” we might not bother to blow out the flame before we leave.

“What if-ing” that leads us to do smart things makes sense. The same goes for avoiding things that might be dangerous or harmful.

But what about folks who’re burdened by phobias of different kinds? Aren’t they victims of a different kind of “what if”?

If fear of flying makes a person travel an unnecessarily long distance by car or train when a fairly short flight would be more practical, isn’t he a “what if” victim?

And what about victims of agoraphobia–a fear of being in a public place? Their “what ifs” keep them from going out and enjoying much of life.

During early childhood, I apparently had a frightening experience while taking swimming lessons. I’ve suppressed that memory for more than sixty years–so deeply I have no idea what happened. My “what if” about being in the water made me put off being baptized for a number of years because I was so terrified of “what if.”

Those “what ifs”–and dozens of similar ones–seem pretty irrational, don’t they? But they’re real to the sufferer. And, ironically, living in fear of the “what if” may actually make someone more miserable than anything that might happen as the result of doing what the sufferer is so frightened of.

Too often, people don’t take the important “what ifs” of life seriously enough. If they did, no one would drink and drive. No one would die of a tobacco-related disease. No one would commit crime to support a drug habit–or die of an overdose. Accidents that aren’t really accidental would decrease.

No one would ever “need” to have an abortion.

And people who reject Christianity would give it a serious second thought.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,

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Afraid of Being Too Close to the Edge

When Maureen, the older of my two stepdaughters, visited my wife and me for Thanksgiving this year, we had some spirited discussions. But what really caught my attention were her comments about para-sailingĀ  and wanting to do sky diving sometime–and obviously meaning it.

Okay, Maureen. More power to you, girl. I was the only one in my group who didn’t even go zip gliding in Nicaragua.

For many years I’ve thought of myself as acrophobic–afraid of heights. I’m not as bad about that now as I used to be, though, and I don’t think I ever totally panicked when I was in a high place.

I’d never flown until I was in my early-to-mid twenties. Not because I was afraid of it. I’d just never needed to or had the opportunity to.

But my landlord owned a small plane, and when he invited me to look at our part of Maryland’s beautiful Eastern Shore from the air, I jumped at the chance. I felt vaguely uncomfortable being up there, especially since the plane was so small, but I didn’t hesitate when my first need to fly on a commercial flight arose a short time later.

But I remember two specific instances when I almost panicked under different circumstances. Both while I was an adult.

I worked summers at a conference center in North Carolina, and one summer I was in charge of filling the numerous canned drink machines throughout the campus. To do that, I loaded a van with what I thought I would need each day and headed off to get as close as I could to each machine to avoid toting the drinks any further than necessary.

The catch was leaving the storage office. A seven or eight foot drop beside the parking lot required some careful maneuvering in a heavily loaded vehicle that came complete with a stick shift. As far as I recall, I panicked every day until I’d safely made that turn.

The other instance took place in the nearby Smoky Mountains. I’d stopped at an overview to look at the distant scenery, but as I approached the wall that was meant to protect people from the severe drop on the other side, I couldn’t do it. I was terrified. So terrified that I finally had to crawl up to the wall on my hands and knees. Even then, was I evermore relieved to get away from that place.

So, there you have it. Maybe I’m not actually afraid of heights–I’ve climbed a few ladders I should’ve been more afraid of–but of being too close to the edge.

Hmm. Wonder if there’s a phobia-word for that.

Are you afraid of anything in an almost-phobic way? How about sharing it with us via a comment?


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,