This, That And What Not

Day# 23My God…when I started this journey, I suspected it would take me to some very interesting spaces and places; but, my God…I could not have imagined the revelations, confidences and fodder for conversations that I would be blessed with!

So…”now what?” No; not you and me (I know the “now what?’ of us), I am talking about what I have come to believe can be two of the saddest word combinations there are. “Now what?” Have you ever said it? Or worse yet, been on the receiving end of it? Think about those two little words, by themselves quite innocuous; but together, they carry a wealth of possible hopelessness, fear, dejection and sadness. So, what does one do when confronted with “now what?”?

The first thing I would suggest is to try and recognize that all is not lost when those words are uttered. Granted, all is not too good; but the train has not completed pulled out of the station either. Here’s why: when a person asks that of you, understand that they may not necessarily be looking for a way out; they can possibly be looking for the way through. They could be hoping that you are able to come up with an idea, an answer, an option or a solution that they may have overlooked or not thought possible. So, in this equation, “now what?” is decidedly better than its not-so-distant relative, “not now”!

Okay, but by now yall know I do not either lie to myself or to you, so, we do need to explore the other options when scrutinizing these words. Through the years, I have both heard and uttered these dastardly words; I cannot speak…wait, who am I kidding? I will absolutely speak for both myself and for the person who asked me the question! In both instances, those seven letters meant the beginning of the end; they signified the loss of all hope and the termination of a reality that prior to that moment melded both the speaker and the listener. “Now what?” was a precursor to a conversation that ended…well, what does it matter now? It ended.

Look back at your life; try to remember the time or the times where these words punctuated either a conversation or, an internal dialogue. Truthfully, you may not have to fling your memory too far back; you may be amazed at how often they have peppered your everyday emotions and therefore conversations. Think about it. Then, try to remember the feeling evoked after uttering or hearing them. Try to remember the feeling in the pit of wherever your feelings originate; the possible knots…ha-ha; just realized that for you boys, the knots could have come from your ‘nuts’. Hahahahaha; I crack myself up!

I remember having a conversation (or maybe a few) with friends in my youth when, after recounting an encounter with a lover and the proverbial condom broke and panic set it; and well, wait for it…”now what?” I also remember the impending loss of employment and therefore income and asking myself, “now what?” I remember getting the acceptance letter to college and with tears in my eyes and pride and fear in every fiber of my insides and whispering to my partner, “now what?” I remember having to discipline an employee, speaking with them about an infraction against our protocols and being asked, “Fury…now what?” Words possibly uttered more frequently than “thank you”.

Let’s address this: I am a lover of the English language. Truth be told, I am a lover, period; but that’s a different post J . I continue to be fascinated by the varying nuances that arise simply by combining words together; and the fact that the placement of said words can change not only the meaning imparted – how you combine words can absolutely affect the ‘tone’ of the delivery, but in doing so, can change someone’s perspective, attitude and oftentimes,  life. Think about this: “now what?” even with its wealth of many things pessimistic and hopeless, still carries with it (and quite possibly because of said lack of hope) an invitation to dialogue. It leaves doors open to allow for interaction and resolution. But here we go: take those exact two words and invert them – “what now?” – all of a sudden the air around both the speaker and the recipient shifts (and especially for the recipient). “What now?!” (yes; I added an exclamation point) is derisive and combative; it is derogatory and it effectively slams the door on any pre-existing attempt at a conversation or a resolution. The same words; but which you place first determines willingness or disdain.

Yesterday, a friend and I had a conversation about her “now what?”. Today I say to her, “It may be time to drop the ‘what’. Now”.

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