“WHATIF” by Shel Silverstein
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:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk the test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!
Today’s poem, written by Shel Silverstein, is a classic example of monkey-mind: thoughts jumping around in our mind; springing, leaping in different directions almost as soon as they land. This is the monkey-mind that creeps in and toils and spins at the most inconvenient time: when we settle in for the night.
Although this poem is told from a child’s point of view, I think it’s safe to say that as adults, we’ve all experienced this type of chatter, too. Our list may look a bit different–perhaps it would include Whatifs about marriage, career, children, our aging parents.
When did we learn to make such lists? As children it appears. But how young? I can recall making these worry-lists as early as second grade. I wonder, when did you start?
And when did we allow our minds to invent such fiction, considering the Whatifs very rarely end up becoming reality?
And more importantly, how do we quiet the Whatifs when they begin to seep in?
Years of practice didn’t work for me. Setting my intention didn’t work either. Getting up in the middle of the night and making a list of them? Nope. By the time I turned off the light my mind had already latched on to a half dozen more. (I was quite gifted at this whole monkey-mind thing. Still am actually, if I allow it.)
Prayer? Ah, now there’s a good, solid start. As I learned to shift my mode of prayer from the request type (because let’s be honest, the more I requested peace, sleep, whatever, the more I was reminded of the lack of it, and as a result, the more I wanted it–nasty, vicious cycle). However, once I learned to marry prayer with what I know to be true of Trust, in Trusting What Is, the Whatifs that had once crawled in my ear, no longer had fertile ground in which to thrive.
Give it a try. Prayer with Trust. Trust that you are not alone. Trust that What Is occurring in your life is happening for a reason—maybe to make you stronger, maybe to show you that you CAN HANDLE it, maybe to open your eyes to the wonders and possibilities that exist beyond what you thought were possible.
Trust that you are taken care of in ALL of your needs.