The What If Game

I’m not much of a games player.  Board games leave me cold.  BOR-ING…  is the long, drawn out, dismissive word that comes to mind.  Just can’t seem to maintain the enthusiasm or concentration required for group huddles around the Monopoly board; or any other board-centric games.  Video games are either too scarily violent or impossibly difficult to play when this middle-aged woman is at the controls.  But there’s a particular game I really don’t like playing.

The What If game is different.  That one can turn me literally cold.  It’s a mind game you see, and they’re always the worst.

Today’s husband and wife Facebook feeds, in my corner of the digital sky, featured two posts re: cancer.  Until now my newsfeed was a fairly innocuous place, filled with nothing but photos of pretty flowers, family outings and the occasional whinge re: life in general, via the cute Minion army.  Not anymore.  I/we confirmed a couple of friend requests a while ago and, in so doing, collectively entered Facebook hell.

Daily I’m hit between the eyes by posts that resemble the chain letters that used to do the rounds in my long ago, youthful days.  ‘Click like if you hate cancer – ignore and your parents will die’, was the first post one newly acquired fb friend decided to share.  Not wanting to inflict this sentiment upon my vast (19) friends list, I chose the ‘hide post, see fewer posts like this’ option and clicked;  feeling pretty safe from the implied death threats, being that my mother-in-law had already (and courageously) died from cancer years ago, and the three remaining parents have all reached a healthy old age.  What If though… was the first fleeting thought as I clicked.  What if someone I know gets cancer now, as a direct result of that click?

The second post to come flying our way from the ‘posters from hell’ (which is the secret name I’ve given our new facebook buddies) was a line-up of naked, middle-aged ladies proudly displaying their mastectomy scars.  After taking a few seconds to realise just what I was actually looking at, I began to wonder: ‘Do I need to see this?’  ‘ Why do I need to see this? ‘  ‘What purpose does this serve?’  – before finally going with:  ‘What kind of people share this stuff?’  (the ‘posters from hell’, that’s who.)

This post I didn’t hide because the What If game kicked in big time.  What if I get breast cancer just by hiding this gratuitous picture of post op scars – even if they’re all smiling and looking like they  just won the lottery (which may be the point of the photo, who knows.)   So I scrolled on down.

These fb friends (more properly acquaintances) also favour pics of young kids holding up placards proclaiming their terminal illness; give me a million ‘likes’ is written on their cards,  as though this will save them.   Or, scroll past this photo of an adorable sleeping cat/baby/dog without liking it and you’re clearly a heartless b******* (swear words do not trip off my tongue, even if they’re typed on the blog that no one reads.)   The newsfeeds are now also becoming the unwitting home to a vast array of posts on mental illness  –  of the OCD, depressive, anxiety kind.

No, No, No…… I didn’t ask for this stuff but what If I delete it?   What if I close my eyes to all this public emotional blackmail?    Will the What If  kharma come to get me.

And while I’m in Destiny/Fate mode; What if, What if…….What if  I hadn’t met my husband?  That one often haunts the occasional long, dark, teatimes of my soul.  What if I hadn’t gone to that particular, exact university, where we met?   What if I’d studied hard enough to get better grades, which would have sent me to an entirely different place.

What if I could talk properly? (and not stammer, which I do).  Would I have had a happier life; a high flying career?   Instead of hanging by the side lines, afraid to speak.

What if I was poor and homeless?
What if I was living without human rights, health care, a welfare system?
What if I was living in the midst of War?
What if I ruled the world?
What if I had a super power?
What if people said how they really feel?
What if there is a God?
What if there isn’t?
What if it’s all just an illusion?

Your average author practically lives by the rules of the What If game.  ‘What If?’  Stephen King is prone to ask himself, on his daily walks or whilst in the shower. ‘What if some mutant virus got out of control/some monster clown terrorised a whole town/some teenage girl had murderous paranormal powers?’

The What If game is endless and one you can never win (except if you’re Stephen King.)

What if there’s nothing left to say?

(There isn’t.)

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