The Greatest Question There Ever Was

Have you ever wondered about the infinite possibilities this world has to offer? The endless opportunities. the countless chances, the manifold permutations of Minecraft? Ever wonder what the greatest questions in the world is?

To put it simply – have you ever asked:

What if?

What If
Fun read! 5/7 would recommend with rice.

The greatest question there ever was

I bet you’d be lying if you said you didn’t.

Clearly this is one of the most basic human instincts, a quintessential human trait if you will. The ability to predict different outcomes and alternate futures based on a set of rules or knowledge. The power to imagine.

  • What if I had taken cooking classes instead of accounting?
  • What if I had met my friend the morning of the accident?
  • What if I had turned left instead?

Surely that is the greatest question that humans have ever posed. The question that elevates us from the rest of cute and cuddly fauna and flora of this planet.

  • What if animals could ask what if?

If they could, cats would probably stop knocking things off the table after the first time. Or not. Jerks.

What’s so special about what if?

  • What if we had no imagination?

Without imagination, we would be rather thoughtless creatures. We would be slaves to our basic instincts and emotions, driven by our immediate needs and present dangers.

With it we are free to explore each and every one of these possibilities in our minds, which allows us to predict ahead and create contingency plans and prepare for the worst and all that.

To see a dark sky and imagine the sweeping winds and rain. To hear a rustle and imagine a rabid poo-flinging chimp on a hoverboard.

Our imaginations are our greatest assets.

Or are they?

Have you ever spent days just dreaming about what your future could be like? Countless hours wishing you had done things differently? That you could go back and change the course of time?

We can become lost in our mental wanderings; trapped in a vicious cycle of what-if’s.

Always looking back, gazing over your shoulder. Stuck in rewind.

And as powerful as that recall can be, as vivid as those memories are, as recurring as those nightmares become, there is no redo.

There is however, recourse.

That is to open up to the imagination of others, to let others in.

No matter the pain, it will subside. Sharing with others, letting other distractions in is a form of healing. It is not a sign of defeat, nor is it a form of weakness.

Strangely enough, sometimes these may not be your friends or loved ones. That is not to say you cannot find solace in the ones closest to you; perhaps some may require a bit of distance and seek solitude or strangers as their recourse.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the what-if’s that we miss out on the very real opportunities right in front of us.

Imagine Dragons

This is painting a rather poor light on our innocent and unassuming imagination. I’m certain neither of those adjectives would be commonly associated with our dream machine, but that depends on how we allow our imaginations to be influenced by our own mental predispositions.

Take a child’s imagination, if you will. Like most things, it is a blank slate, receptive to the world around it. It takes in what it sees, and this is the first fuel for its imagination.

As the child grows, more complex concepts come to bear, many things are experienced, a broader range of emotions are felt. The imagination begins to blossom forth like a wild, ravenous monstrous beast, taking it in all sorts of directions and adventures.

If nurtured, this imagination can go on to create new and wonderful things. Pretty and inspiring things. Yes.

Or it can be pounded and bludgeoned into drooling submission, a slave to pain and anguish, imagining the terror of others, the fake emotions from a fake scenario where triumph is at hand. Yeeesssss.

It doesn’t matter what situation we are in, our imagination is capable of finding a way out – finding many, many ways out. There is always a choice.

Or at least, that’s what I would like to believe.

Sure, in some situations the available options are drastically dwindled, but our resourceful imagination usually has a solution. It may or may not be a good one, but really it’s whether or not we can take the right action and carry it out.

Wait, that sounds like some really bad Hollywood movie where the protagonist and company survive silly odds based on some wacky nonsensical notion.

Plan 9
Wait, what was that plan about again?

Now back to the analogy and the ageing imagination. As the imagination matures, it undergoes all sorts of transformation – some good, some bad, some terrifying, some terrifyingly mundane.

And as it ages it has the opportunity to look back on more and more of its past, to lament what was and what could have been. The what-if’s gradually build up, the chagrin creeps in.


Regret is something that imagination is very much responsible for. That and hindsight.

If we didn’t have the power of prediction, we wouldn’t be able to figure out the things that we could have done, and thus would be unable to lament all the missed chances and poor decisions in the course of our past life.

So based on the fuzzy snapshots we call memory (yes, yes, you have eidetic memory, go recite the numbers of pie), we bring our imagination to bear and imagine a life where things might have gone a little better, or more excitingly.

Do you have regrets?

Perhaps there are those who live without such a burden, I do not doubt it.

These are people who have grown old (well, not necessarily that old) without allowing their unfettered imaginations to run wild. Or they have just had really, really awesome lives.

Can we control our imaginations?

Wait, what am I suggesting?

Well, of course you can!

I apologise it took me this long to get to something that is remotely interesting. Oh, not really? Ok, nice to see you too!

Now how do we control these fantasy-churning, madness-inducing megaton machines?

It’s simple: with drugs.

You know, the really powerful ones that you have to take three times a day for the rest of your life that cost a thousand bucks a tablet.

It’s not surprise the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t taken over the world yet. C’mon Umbrella Corp!

I’m messing with you.

Our imaginations are wired with our minds and emotions. If you’re angry you will naturally imagine doing nasty things (no, not that kind of nasty) to those who have wronged you. If you’re sad…look, just go watch Inside Out already.

George Town Forgotten Memoirs
Just a bit of sand in my eye…oh, now it’s raining in here

In order to harness your imagination, you just have to watch what you feed it.

Emotions and thoughts are fuel. If you don’t want to be daydreaming all the time or riddled with regret, channel your energy elsewhere!

Easier said than done, right?

Like all things worth having, this takes time and practice.

This doesn’t mean you should force yourself to only think of happy things and lull your imagination into a false state of blissful ignorance. Just treat it right and it will serve you well.

Your imagination itself could very well help you out of a dark place. Just look at J.K. Rowling. She was struggling for the longest time, but her imagination and persistence created something that is now loved and enjoyed by millions around the world.

I mean, just look at all the Harry Potter fanfic! Actually, on second thought, don’t.

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