For such small words, “If” and “But” carry so much meaning, hope, and despair. “Yes” and “No”, can sometimes do the same, but never with the same sting. They are too swift and definite in their strikes, but If and But can ache for a lifetime. For the most part, But is what is and If is what is not.
But is most often the truth, the reality, the present. “I want to do something- but I do not know how to get started- but I am too afraid I will fail- but I am just too tired” – “They would be a great companion but they are just- but they are just too self centered- but they is just not my type- but I am already taken”
The But is what is, what came before it is nothing. But even being nothing, people can still hope for it, and that is where they ask in turn, “but what if?” In this unholy union of If and But, the If is the dominant one. “But what if I were stronger – But what if they started treating me a bit nicer – But what if they had asked me sooner – But what if things were different”
The If carries in a hope for change of past, present, or future. It deals in what could be or could have been as well as what could never be, never have been or never will be. This is especially apparent when it asks things in the past. “But what if I had done this instead?” This is a question that pretends to carry meaning when in truth it cannot. You did not do something different and you cannot undo what has already been done. You acted the way you acted because you were who you were and who you were is what led you to who you are now. There would be a different you asking different “What Ifs” had you done something different. Perhaps things could have been different, but they were not. But is the truth, If is a fantasy.
The future If is where things get tricky. If there is still time to make things different, that is where we place our hopes. The reality is that most stay the same, But what If? Perhaps they will, but I still believe that we should focus first on the Buts before were worry about the Ifs.