Monday, July 6, 2009

Worst Case Scenario

I woke with a quote from a movie in my head: "What's the worst that could happen?" -- a line spoken by a spiritual leader in a sort of fluffy movie called The Jewel of the Nile. Why the line? Perhaps it's because I have shifted towards my doomsayer's mentality again. When my life is in limbo--when I am unsure of the future, whether job prospects, financial situations, schooling, etc.--I tend to imagine all sorts of awful possibilities. And yesterday was no exception. 

I have several possible job prospects right now, but none are guaranteed except a single class in the fall. If that is all I teach, I will have lots of free time but very little income. However, if all the other job possibilities come through, I may be teaching upwards of seven classes (or even more!), work for FOUR different schools, and be too busy to pee more than twice a day (and for me, with my tiny bladder, that would be a frightening prospect). 

So, now the spiritual guide within me speaks: "What is the worst that could happen?" And I immediately settle down. The worst? I would be very busy. So busy I'd have to hire a housekeeper (hurray!). But this busy pattern would last, at most, a semester. By mid-December I would have planned out which schools I would keep, which I would drop, and I and my life would return to balance (and more frequent bathroom breaks). 

My kids would not have as much fun, and Richard would find himself having to make up for my deficiencies (something that would do him a lot of good). He'd have to make a few dinners a week, watch a little less football, and otherwise remain more attentive to the kids than usual. Then again, if I take the kids to the YMCA (a place they LOVE) I can still grade papers in the lobby... and they can still have fun while being safely monitored. All of us would enjoy that break.

My kids would have to become more independent. Crystal could put lunches together in the morning. Brandon would need to get himself dressed without nagging or he'd miss the bus entirely. They'd have more time for homework, with us all sitting at the dinner table working for a few hours (me included). 

Honestly, when I think it through and put it into precise images, it doesn't sound as bad as my nightmares. And that is what helps. If the worst isn't so bad, I think I can handle it. I have used this before with my writing. I consider what happens if I never become a published writer, if all this work I do on plays, novels, and other writings never brings in any money, or never reaches a wider audience. What's the worst that can happen? 

In fifty years, when I am old and bent over, I'll look back and see that I spent decades upon decades doing something I loved, and even if it never brought in much, it was fulfilling work nonetheless. I cherish the time I have spent writing. It has brought me joy, no matter whether it brings me anything else. The rest would only be gravy.

So, what do you fear? What's the worst that could happen? 


  1. The worst: we buy a house in Peterborough and I flunk out (or hate) the phd thing...but then we'd still have the house that we could sell and I could still (probably) get a job teaching at the college level anyway (but I'd still have failed)

  2. In my case, the worst that could happen is the status quo never changes, and, hey, the status quo isn't so bad.

    But I'm still working for some changes.