“I’ve got nothing to lose.” This is a thing people say.
It’s something I’ve said, I think, although I do not remember when or in what context I may have said it.
I suppose it’s true, at times. What have you got to lose in accepting an okay job when you need one, even when it’s not your dream? It’s a job, after all.
But what if the thing you’ve got to lose is that tomorrow, when your not-a-dream-job begins, you’re not online to see your for-real dream job come across? You lose that opportunity. Poof, it’s gone. Given to the one who waited for it.
If you’d just have waited a day. A month.
What is waiting for a day or a month in the whole of life?
We wait for spring, knowing that blossoms will bloom.
We wait for childbirth, knowing the one inside of us needs more time. That we need more time, too.
We’re patient. Or, at least, we know when to tell ourselves to be patient.
On the other hand, not taking a decent job when you need a decent job would be foolish. Who wouldn’t condemn a hungry family’s provider for saying “no” to a paycheck that guarantees – at least for the time being – steady meals?
The problem is, we don’t know whether our choices are foolish or brave until after we’ve made them.
We’re uncertain about the path we wander until we stand at the end of it, happy and triumphant, or find ourselves looking at an impenetrable wall.
I think a lot about what we have to lose. More precisely, what I have to lose.
“I’ve got nothing to lose!”
Sometimes, the phrase is said by writers sending pitches. Other times, by those who’ve been told they’re dying but can participate in a new trial. It seems to be a good attitude to have in those cases.
But, isn’t there always something to lose? The parent who chooses the trial rather than dying – will it make her feel worse in her final days? No longer know her son’s name?
Is an editor’s rejection the one thing that makes a writer pack away her keyboard when the next world-altering novel is waiting to bloom from her laptop?
There’s always something to lose.
Life. Memories. A kind smile given to a stressed-out parent.
If anything, what we have to lose is what happens next.
While I’m not much of a believer in dwelling on past “what if’s,” it’s impossible to not indulge in wondering about future ones.
Because how can we not fear losing what happens next, given an alternate path?
I was never fearful of death before becoming a mother. Now, I think about it much too much. I think about death and taxes, having filed taxes this week.
What if you’d died a week later, a decade earlier? What would have changed?
Would I trade past memories and comforts in order to shut the door on death for a minute, an hour, a day, a year. A lifetime? I don’t know.
I’m working on a novel, and these questions are ones that I’m asking myself about the characters within it, and when I lie in bed at night, ones I ask myself. Maybe you’re wondering about them too.
Or, maybe not. But what is there to lose, anyway?
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes …”