Ah, the word maybe. So full of hope. So full of promise. So devoid of commitment. It’s a thin cloud that morphs in the sky from trailing cirrus to thunderhead or dissipates at the whim of the atmospheric winds. It’s a stepping stone in a stream that could stand solidly under the weight of your crossing or tip and send you tripping headlong into icy water.
When I was a teen, it was the answer to everything I asked for. Can I go to the football game? Maybe. Can my friends come over? Maybe. There was always something held back, and as a result I was under the impression that up until the moment the event actually happened, there was a lot I could do to mess up my chances. A portion of that anxiety carries with me to this day.
Still, that one fickle, hopeful word releases the speaker from the perils of broken promises. Possibly my parents didn’t want to let me down. Perhaps they didn’t want to commit their day and their energies to something I was hoping for. As a parent, I understand that side of the equation. As I kid, I didn’t.
My husband isn’t one for maybes. He truly believes he can make anything happen. Even though he was working long hours, we would make plans. There was no maybe about it. We were going out to dinner for my birthday. When his expected arrival time came and went, I was left with a sinking feeling that it didn’t matter enough to him to make it happen. In reality, he just got caught up at work and was very apologetic, but it was a real let-down. I’m sure throwing maybe in the mix may not have helped that situation, but it’s a word that adds a buffer to the disappointment.
In another sense, maybe can be a real balancing act. An invitation to a party can result in a definite maybe, as if the recipient of the invitation will come… unless a better offer comes along.
Maybe can also define with blurry, shifting lines a possible path in life. Maybe I’ll go to this school or that one. Maybe I’ll become a doctor. Maybe I’ll get married. Unless I don’t.
I’ve heard that the best way to make things happen is to create an x-year-plan. Insert your own number for the variable. I’ll do one. Where do you see yourself in x years. It’s a road map that surgically excises the maybes. I’ve also heard that creating an idea board solidifies in the wispy winds of the mind the idea that the possibilities can become realities. I’ve yet to do either, and in many areas of my life still live in the world of maybe.
Maybe if I do such and such, I’ll lose weight. Maybe I’ll go to Hawaii, or Vancouver B.C. Maybe I’ll write that novel.
No, I will write that novel.
If you’ll excuse me, I have a one-year-plan to create.