Whatifs and Rebels and Geeks (oh my)


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…

~from “Whatif” by Shel Silverstein

We all seem to have nighttime visits from these little creatures called “Whatifs,” and their cousins, the “Mightabeens.” They may be small, but they cause lots of damage and they’re persistent little buggers. I visualize them as mosquitoes with tiny fangs as sharp as a viper’s.

Once they’re in your head, they’re hard to get out. That much I’ve discovered over the last ten years.

Only thing is: if you stay in a rut, you stay in a rut. Do greyhounds chase that mechanical rabbit around and around the track because they really want to, or because they’ve been conditioned over hundreds of years to do it? I have been like one of those greyhounds, chasing something at top speed, but not really sure why I’m doing it. Could be I’m running to my own death (and for many greyhounds, before the advent of the greyhound adoption programs, that was often the case if they weren’t consistent winners.)

I ask you, the readers, to think for a moment on the subject of the Whatifs.

Whatif one of the early prehistoric men (or women) had never said, “Y’know, raw mammoth really doesn’t taste too good. How about we try sticking it in the yellow flamey thing for a bit?*)

(Note: Translated from the original Ok brokka glak kunn fire, heh heh heh…)

Whatif the early astronomers had never thought to go out and perform scientific experiments and measure the earth’s circumference, the distance from the earth to the sun, and the diameter of the moon?

(Note: A lot of high school kids everywhere would cheer.)

Whatif early civil rights pioneers like Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony had said, “Life as a second-class, marginalized so-called ‘citizen’ is just great. Let’s enjoy it and never question our lot in life.”

Whatif the early American colonists, instead of writing the Declaration of Independence, had said, “King George really isn’t so bad. Life could be a lot worse. Let’s not stir up any trouble, OK?”

Whatif countless authors like Stephen King had let the pain of many, many rejection letters get to them and said, “I’ve had it with writing. I think I’ll try my hand at insurance sales. Much easier, and I’ll get benefits too.”

It is said that everyone loves a rebel, but few are willing to tolerate one. Most of us will never be mentioned in the same breath as Abraham Lincoln or Rosa Parks or Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. Taking risks means laying principles on the line. Making changes in your life, or in your community, runs the risk of losing friends, making enemies, even losing respectability.

Just standing for one’s principles, in this world of political correctness run amok, is a rare thing. Isn’t it just easier to do whatever the crowd is doing so you can fit in? Be popular or liked?

How about that “weird” friend or sibling or cousin you have (and we all have one) who goes to protest rallies, or helps spay and neuter pets on the weekend instead of going out to parties, or writes endless Letters to the Editor? He or she might not be trying to avoid you or your barbecue. Who knows? They might actually be trying to make a difference.

Only a few in history are well-known by name to us by name for Doing Great Things. How many others, whom we don’t know by name, also did Great Things?

So, why not be a rebel or one of those “weird” people? Whatif you try it and, heaven forbid, you don’t like it? There’s probably an opportunity someplace else. It’s easy to watch reality TV all day and eat processed foods, but if you’re willing to challenge yourself just a little, you might actually be doing a Great Thing and not even knowing it. I leave you with a quote from another of those “weird people…”

“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.” ~Albert Einstein

Quantum physics are just so LOLworthy!

 Questions? Comments? Think I’m one of those weird types? I’d love to hear from you at wikusandmurdock@yahoo.com!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on August 21, 2010.

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