My ego likes this joke, for it is always on me. I hear it most often on days that I am looking to the outside world for what I want. Within, I feel a lack. The knock-knock joke offers me entrance into the collage of my life experiences, the land of “if only.”
“If only” is a realm where life is always contained. In this world, I create the scenario to prove that what I want is all I will ever need. No matter how complex or basic, each scenario is based upon life already experienced.
Let me give you an example. If only I were able to go for a walk in a flawless autumn of red and gold or stroll on sugar sand beaches lapped clean.
“If only” allows me to travel the length and breadth of my life as it never happened—without a glitch–it sets the world right in a matter of seconds, which is also how long such a scenario lasts.
After all, it is a joke.
If only “keeps the person facing the wrong way— backward instead of forward. It wastes time. It can become a habit, it can become…an excuse for not trying anymore” (Arthur Gordon).
In longing to return to what we are certain has been our best, we close the door on options that may be our best yet. When we enter “if only,” we exit life as it is, trading the unknown for the known.
The world of “if only” offers a smorgasbord of comfort: food, drink, all kinds of ways to self-medicate. It is the stuff of ennui, this dearth of curiosity, and therein, the ego sows seeds of doubt.
“If only” is not the stuff of dreams. Nightmares, maybe.
Life begins and ends in mystery, as Diane Ackerman says, reminding us “…[that] a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” We miss it if we close the door on mystery, too afraid to try again.
Who is to say that in this savage and beautiful country we will not discover food and drink to satisfy, to nourish, to keep us curious for what comes next. Is there not comfort in curiosity? Maybe not. Certainly, there is vitality.
The ego will always knock. It is not ours to ignore or to suppress but to observe that the ego is knocking. We need not invite the ego in or trot along its well-worn path.
After all, it is not really a path but a rut, worn deep and smooth, leading to life already lived.
In observing rather than answering the knock-knock of “if only,” we face forward, grateful for being alive—part of the great mystery–all of our wants and hopes wrapped within.
Whatever happens to you, don’t fall in despair.
Even if all the doors are closed, a secret path will be there for you that no one knows.
You can’t see it yet but so many paradises are at the end of this path.
It is easy to thank after obtaining what you want,
thank before having what you want.