Ever been caught in a spiral of ‘what if’s’? You perceive an outcome based on a compilation of ‘worst-case scenario’ events. Here’s an example of one of mine.
I'd quit my job, brought my ticket (to Buenos Aires) and I was leaving to country, on my own with no real plan. As the saying goes all I had to do next was ‘get a tan, fall in love, and never return.’ Excited was an understatement but in the few days leading up to the new chapter in my life, I caught myself future tripping into the worst case possible thought spiral.
I’m an emotional disaster on the lonely plane trip? I can’t possibly handle 14 hours of wondering ‘why am I doing this.’ I’ll miss my family, friends and my ‘secure’ lifestyle. What if I’m a puddle of sadness by the time I arrive in Buenos Aires? This will be frightening as I can’t speak or understand the language. What if I cant find help? What if I don’t know where to go? What if I jump in a taxi that is a fraud, and I am kidnapped…?
Really Abby? Really? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes terrible situations can happen but this was the story I was future tripping into. Projecting thoughts into my future. Of course, I didn’t want to leave!
Just take the next step.
I took a deep breath and remembered what my friend had told me 5 months earlier. He said, “Just look at what’s in front of you.” Firstly, all you have to do is get on the plane, then you just sit down, then you take the flight, then you get off the plane and so on and so on. One event, one little moment at a time, easy right?
In reality, if I knew what was going to happen, it would have been a cause for unrealistic future tripping or a case of the ‘what if’s’. Now I laugh at my story and understand even more, why it’s so important to remain in the present moment rather than waste precious energy on worries of the future.
13 hours into the 13 and a half hour flight it was ‘the captain speaking.’ The Chilean volcano’s ash cloud had blanketed Buenos Aires today. We were en route back to Chile as we wouldn't be able to land in Argentina today, ironic!
The Andes had only ever been a figment of my imagination.
I’d read about the famous mountain range where the Argentinian football team had once crashed their plane. The crisp white peaks stretched on for miles as this spectacular mountain range suddenly became reality to me. No longer were they an image I had conjured up inside my mind. As we began our descent into Santiago I gazed out over the breathtaking view.
I watched on as my fellow traveller’s reactions came to breaking point over the next six hours of waiting. Chaos a plenty and confusion all around. There was nothing anyone could do and there was no one to blame. I didn’t bother wasting energy being absorbed with worry like most. We just flew over the beautiful Andes, life is good! According to ‘the plan’ we would fly to Buenos Aires in the morning, but who was to know where I would end up tomorrow! This was the start of an adventure.
By the time I reached Argentina, I had already made handfuls or friends. In the most bizarre circumstances, I learned from these experiences. There were no ‘what ifs’ just actions (and reactions for some) based on the hand of cards we’d been dealt. Before I knew it I was standing at the entrance to my hostel in Buenos Aires wondering how I’d arrived so easily.
When I look back on the start of this adventure and all the events that had unfolded I realized that my actions and state of mind were so very far from my future tripping thoughts just a few days earlier. I wonder why we often default into fear, the worst-case scenario. What if we looked at the best-case scenario or the best possible situation of events? Instead of asking our self ‘what if?’ perhaps we need to reframe the question… ‘So what, if…!’
This whole situation made me feel better about not really having an itinerary and not being attached to a plan. Expect the unexpected or perhaps, don’t expect anything at all. You won’t be disappointed. Rather pleasantly surprised by the mysterious cases, such as the Andes, adventures and friendships, that will pop up along the way.