What If It Works

This is your space.

You’ve lived your whole life here, never knowing anything different. The space is narrow in places, gets cramped from time to time, but it’s good enough. It is your home. It’s comfortable. And safe. You like it.

There is no reason not to. You’ve got everything you need.

Those other spaces, beyond yours, are all broad and wide. You glance at them, from a distance, sometimes, without much longing. They’re not for you. Even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t; the journey is long and treacherous.

That doesn’t mean you never think about them. It comes to you sometimes. One cannot help it, those spaces are enticing. It’s not impossible to get to them. You just never attempted it. But what if…what if you try?

An idea comes.

And with it the thoughts.

What if something goes wrong, what if you get lost? What if everything goes wrong? What if you can’t find your way back? They’re swirling around you now, the thoughts, you can’t stop them. What if you stumble, or worse, fall? And injure yourself? What if they see you fall? What if you walk through the wrong door? What if you find the right door, but can’t open it, and then the person behind you opens it without difficulty, and it will turn out you were turning the handle the opposite way? What if you don’t have the right documentation, and the entry official is one with a loud voice, and everyone hears, and thinks you’re stupid?

You break into a sweat. No, no-no-no. You retreat deeper into your space, hide under the blankets until your pulse slows down again. That was close!

You get on with your life. It’s the same thing every day, a familiar routine. Nothing unexpected happens. On and on it goes.

Yet the ideas still come. Some you flick away, some stay for a while before fizzling out. Some are more persistent. What if—

But no. Too many things to go wrong.

One day, you go about your usual business, when you spot him.

Out of the corner of your eye, while walking your everyday route. How he got there, you don’t know. He’s an old man, wizened and grey. Dressed in grey clothes, grey hat on his head, a bit pointed—the hat not the head—it looks almost… yes, like a wizard’s hat. He’s sitting on a lawn chair (where did it come from?), smoking a pipe. Your eyes meet.

“What if it works?” he says.

You stare at him. He says no more and carries on smoking his pipe. You continue on your way, do the things you usually do. But this thought is new. What if it works?

The next day you take the same route again. No trace remains of the old man. Or his lawn chair. But his words linger on. What if it works?

What if it does?

So you do it. You go to the other spaces. You get up one morning and cross the pass. You stumble once, nobody even notices. You take the wrong turn before you realise your mistake, nobody even notices. At the entry point, you mix up some of the paperwork, but the entry official sorts it out without much difficulty in minimal time—and nobody knows. And you’re in.

This space is beautiful, it is the most beautiful space you have ever seen. The colours are vivid and rich. So many pretty things, and interesting things, and exciting things. What you want most, though, is the sea. It tempts you with its waves, all deep grey and green and blue. You dip your toe in it. Then the whole foot. Then the other foot. Then you get in.

You float in that beautiful sea and it is the best feeling in the world. With blue sky and white clouds high up above you. The sun is shining. It worked… it did.

Soon, you have to return to your own space. But now you know that you can leave anytime, and go anywhere you want. It’s still narrow, the bad thoughts still come, but so do the good ones. Because, what if it works?

And that old wizard in a lawn chair? That was you all along.