If-Only’s, What If’s, & Now

by Jane Tawel

“Doors” by robynejay is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


If-Only’s, What-if’s, and Now

By Jane Tawel

May 24, 2023


The “If-only’s” stuck inside

create a life-time of regret.

We become unaware

that we have created our own unhealthiness — 

Re-gretting. Re-griefing.


And we bring it all back up,

again, and again,

like bile, like vomit,

like hiccups that never end.

We drink the dregs left from the past,

and our insides ache,

but we keep sucking it all down,

and spewing it all out again.

Like carbonated bubbles,

we keep burping back up past wrongs.

Heart-burn as choice.

We come close to letting go,

but step away,

as if the perfume of freedom,

freedom from the past,

is too heady a scent,

too strong to wear now.

We re-fuse to re-alize

that all of us must leave

the past at the altar.

Kick it to the curb.

Close the door.

Re-lease ourselves,

from the past,

once and for all.

If-only we could leave the past at the altar,

the altar where we forgive ourselves all,

in the same way we forgive others, all,

we would never look back.

We never would look back.

We can never re-turn,

but we can, with re-joicing, re-pent.

Repent! which is just another word

for turning around and turning a new leaf,

and turning out our pockets,

where we hoard past judgments.

We re-place the thoughts of yesterday,

With awareness and love of today.

We can stop.

We can re-fuse the refuse of the past,

in order to sit still,

to be,

in order to walk ahead.


Living with the “What-ifs”,

is not a life of hope;

it is a life of fear.

“What if this happens?” “What if I don’t — ?”

“What if she does — “ “What if they — “

“What if?”

Fear of tomorrow,

is a cornered animal,

a dream spent in anxiety

about the un-real.

And the fears

that multiply like choking weeds in my mind,

kill the living garden trying to grow

within me, today.

The worries pound,

like a headache at the door of my heart.

And I bring them all in,

“Make yourself at home.”

And they crowd in like an unruly mob,

fighting for my mind’s inattention.

Trying to gather the slippery slopes,

the thoughts of the future,

is like trying to grasp and hold on to

wisps of smoke.

I peer ahead, through the mists of what-ifs,

blinded by them to today;

they blind like smog, like fog.

Seeing but not seeing,

imagining but not knowing,

wishing but not hopeful.

My mind is a shimmering chimera,

real only to my doubts of what is true,

what is real and true, only in the now.

I look at what-ifs,

as if they exist,

but it is like drawing funny faces on a mirror,

faces without humor,

and I look at my reflections,

as if the reflections are myself

and not an image I have created out of lies,

for things that may never be,

are as much lies, as things that were then,

but are no longer now.

Only the present is Truth.


Why do I imbue the present time

with so little valued meaning?

Why do I keep my accounts from the past?

I have already paid them in full.

Why do I invest in days and hours

that might never be?


The soul cries to self:

“Rejoice! Today, you may yet live!”


Today waits for no man,

and yet it waits for my embrace.

Today’s possibility

stands knocking at the door of my life,

as truly as my heart knocks against my chest.

Spirit whispers, a still, small voice

that calms the storms of yesterday,

that blows away the cobwebs of yesterday,

that comforts the whimpering fears of tomorrow,

that sings to rest, all that should be laid to rest.

The Voice is not heard by the mind,

but speaks to our spirit, our hearts,

as only true feelings, true love,

can communicate:

“Behold, Love stands at the door and knocks.

If any one opens the door,

Love will come in to her, and they shall feast together — 

eyes, ears, smell, touch, taste — feasting.




And if any open the door,

Love will abide with you

and together,

right now,

you will find peace.”

© Jane Tawel, 2023

Published by

Jane Tawel

Still not old enough to know better. I root around and explore ideas in philosophy, spirituality, poetry, Judeo-Christian Worldview, family, relationships, and art. Often torn between encouragement & self-directed chastisement, I may sputter, but I still keep trying to move forward.

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