What If?

Although the rapid advance in vaccinations has eased certain restrictions on combating Covid 19, people remain frightened and are hesitant to emerge into the public. “What if” is a constant refrain. What if I am in the small percentage where the vaccine is ineffective? What if one of the newly found variants attacks me? Will I be immune? What if my physical condition makes me more vulnerable?  Can I eat inside a restaurant? What if? What if? We continue to restrict activities and take refuge in fears that may or may not be valid.

As I listen to people express anxiety, I think back to my own reaction one sunny day at Brant Lake as I set off in my canoe. The lake was still. One single stroke from my paddle and the boat sliced easily through the water. Soon I had passed Sunset Mountain Lodge where fishermen were tying up silver fishing boats. It was early morning but for these men in yellow slickers the day had begun when the moon still dominated the sky. Once I had fished early in the morning but my only catch was a craving for breakfast. That was many years ago!

The wake-up call echoed from the loudspeakers at Point O’ Pines Camp and I knew that soon young girls in white uniforms with the blue camp insignia would be swarming into the dining hall.

As I approached the camp the slightest breeze began to traverse the lake but the overall calm persisted, broken only by the wake of my canoe. I was enjoying the peace of the Adirondacks. Then, almost intuitively, I glanced at my watch: 8:30. And anxiety floated in on the morning breeze. Why? Because I knew that soon, possibly by 9 AM the winds would rise and stir the waters. Whitecaps might form and of this I was certain: The current would be my enemy and my paddle would no longer dip and slide effortlessly through the water. The foreshadowing of rough waters was sufficient to cause panic.

Furiously, I turned the canoe and headed home. Would I arrive before the winds strengthened? So far the wind had not summoned its force. The smooth waters still stretched in front me, but in my mind I was flooded with a thought of what might happen. What if the waters pounded me and I could no longer steer the boat? What if I washed into the cove where only otters live? What if? And, with my mind unsettled I no longer enjoyed my canoe trip in that idyllic moment, for on that day the waters remained calm.

That was when I realized each one of us has an option; namely to enjoy the moment or to live in fear of what the future might bring. If we follow the latter path then we negate the beauty of the calm waters. Life is uncertain, and only the moment is known. Instead of asking ourselves “What if” it is preferable to enjoy that moment.


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