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coulda shoulda woulda
03 January, 2005 :: 11:33 a.m.

Sometimes "what if?" is so much better than what is. All of this not wanting to have regrets later on, wanting to go for it all so that you never have to wonder...why? What's the point? You can't explore every possibility--to choose one thing is to deny another thing existence. Every single choice leads to "what if"... To cheat on your partner is to never know how things would've been if you'd stayed faithful; to stay faithful is to never know what might've happened with that cute, interesting stranger. Take a road trip and you never know what might've happened if you'd stayed home...go left on said road trip and you don't know what was waiting to the right...we generally only stop and think "what if?" when what we'd hoped or what we'd planned goes to shit. If you decide to stay faithful to your partner and the relationship goes to shit a year later...that's when you stop and think about the chances you had to cheat; hit a deer, total your car, that's when you wonder what if you'd turned the other way, left home 10 minutes later, or just stayed the hell home in the first place...

So why bother? Why get involved with deep friendships, romances, whatever? To get to know the real someone is to lose the idealized version of them that you had, that you could've kept and cherished.

Example: You're sitting in a coffee shop and somehow a conversation gets sparked with another person...this conversation is amazing, it's all over the place, you seem to have an instant connection, make each other laugh, realize you have stuff in common...whatever this perfect conversation would be for you. For my money, I think of one something like Joel and Clementine have on the train in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's quirky, offbeat, fun without either revealing much of themselves...If they'd had this conversation and simply left it at that, just walked away, both would've left with a wonderful memory and, yes, a giant "what if?" But so what? "What if?" can be beautiful; it can be whatever you want it to be. Have a kick ass one-time conversation and you can spin that into a thousand tales of what it could have led to; follow up on it, get to know the person, and you're forever stuck with the reality of who they are...and no one, no matter how fucking wonderful, will live up to who you can make them in your mind. Joel and Clementine follow up on things and it gets messy (and yes, I realize they'd already had a relationship in the movie and that's part of what makes it so messy...just look at that one scene out of context, just for the sake of the conversation).

Again, what is the point of ruining fantasy by making concrete choices?

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