There’s a short story by Ambrose Bierce called An Occurrence at Owl Street Bridge which (among other things) profoundly explores how quickly the mind works; how you can live a whole lifetime up there in a matter of seconds. I’m sure many of us have been experiencing this lately as our minds unfold entire life stories beginning with “What if”, or “I’ll have to”. How do those stories end? Perhaps not well, given how the brain loves calamity; it’s a natural catastrophizer.
Sometimes, it helps to see those stories PAST the end. Very often, following the thread of a single “What if” or “I’ll have to” story is freeing, even calming. I have a game for it, I call it the Worst-Case-Scenario—try it and see what happens.
I’ve been playing that game as I contemplate the Coronavirus pandemic, its rapidly widening scope, and the potential implications for me. In the process, I realized that many of my “What if” stories are about being forced to chose an option: I could do this or I could do that.
Options are a privilege, not everyone has them.
So, in addition to the Worst-Case-Scenario game, I wanted to share this way of looking at things, too. We can separate our options from the “musts” and “have tos” and be thankful for them.