For Writers Island prompt #18: If Only
This is what I wrote, on the spur of the moment, the last time I was faced with this prompt:
Ah yes, those famous “If Only’s.”
Vultures that visit in loneliness
of after midnight hours, trip mind,
pecking to find thickening shadows,
actually cramp bowels of a darkness
long past, dragging out ugly clothes
of yesterday in forever tangled,
jangled fit of disarray.
for torturous slippery ride
down crooked highways,
slanted byways that move
down and downward,
fast, then faster and only end
at shame and all her wicked
little sisters, twisting moments
until all those nasty whispered
names have been named
and dread must slink away
beneath covers of a bed
at thickening shadows and only
words left to be whispered, are
That was on December 5, 2008. I went back in my files because I remembered that I had written a poem in response to those words, If Only. Couldn’t quite remember what it was all about, but did remember that I’d had a sort of negative reaction. Calling them vultures, come to peck at the carrion of past mistakes, is more than a sort of negative response. It is very definitely not a positive in any shape or form.
So, do I still feel that way? Has anything changed in that almost two year time period. Yes, and no. I still feel that the If Onlies are regrets, more than likely mistakes that can’t be undone. Things, actions, people, that permanently changed, or rearranged life and my existence from what I had known before. And to go back and re-feel my way through them is a waste of time and energy. One that will more than likely end in depression, even possibly despair.
But, that leaves the yes part of the equation, and I did say yes, as well as no. I very recently wrote, on another site, in the comments section, that imagination is a tool meant to enhance all of our lives, not just that part engaged in creative endeavors such as writing, or any other Art. Imagination is the tool of possibilities. If you can see it, it’s possible. And imagination is where we open ourselves up to see other ways and means of looking at what we have defined as impossible.
If only she could, if only he would, if only they were, and if only I had, are all different approaches to the same conclusion: If only the world were a perfect, without blemish place, my life (your life, their lives) could run smoothly and everyone would be happy, right? But, the world is not a perfect place. I think however, it is a perfectly imperfect one.
That built-in imperfection allows things, us, to grow and to evolve. We make mistakes so that we can learn, can change the trajectory, and bring about a new and different outcome. And that change begins in the imagination: that also built-in tool that allows us to see the mistake, the imperfection, and then correct it. And yes, our changes won’t necessarily be perfect, but that just means we will have another chance to grow toward new and different perspectives.
No matter how many regrets and if onlies we might contain, each one will always come back to the me in that torturous downward slide. How can I change my world? What one little thing can I do so that this will never happen in just this way again? How can I change my aim so that it points toward a better outcome, not just for me, but for everyone around me?
We all have some regrets, some places where we solemnly wish that things could have been different, but they weren’t and aren’t, because this world we live in is an imperfect place, one meant to allow us to grow, to change, to become better than we were. One that allows us to stop that downhill slide toward depression and change it to an upward climb toward perfected imperfection.