Wednesday, May 2, 2012


This poem is one of those that describe me pretty perfectly.  As a kid, I both knew this poem and the phenomenon.  Today, the Whatifs still prance and party, but they are often less benign and don't keep to the night.  As often as I try to evict them, they tend to creep back when I least expect.  Do the Whatifs come to visit you? How do you deal with them?

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 that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow talle?
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 well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!


  1. The "whatifs" visited me last night. I felt tired at 10:00, went to bed...and didn't fall asleep until 2:00 because of these lovely visitors.

    I think for me the biggest whatifs are based on my feeling that at this age (42) I haven't accomplished much in my life. I don't have kids, am not rich, don't have a career, haven't created anything of worth for the market... and what if I never do?

    What if I'm not capable of achieving anything more than reading a lot of books and talking to friends over coffee? I've felt the pressure to achieve and produce for much of my life and have been shamed by others for not living up to my potential and for failing at things, which makes me feel even worse.

    I suppose I deal with them by working on whatever goal I have, but I feel like I'm not making progress.

  2. That's one thing that, for me, got better with age. Now I don't have visits from the whatifs any more. My attitude is the past is over and done with. Whatever "mistakes" you made, you just deal with them and go on. As I said, age helps. At 70, I can now look at myself and laugh.

    1. It's nice to know that for some people the Whatifs get bored. Thanks!


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