When I was younger, I liked to play a game. I called it the “What If” game and the premise was simple. All you had to do was finish the sentence. The subject matter typically ranged from completely reasonable to absolutely ridiculous. “What if I was three inches taller?” or “What if I was actually dead and you’re the only person who can see me?”
I judged people by their ability to participate in my game. You were deemed interesting if you could come up with something I had never thought of before and you were labeled boring if you started with “What if…” and ended with “I can’t think of anything.” I was the ultimate judge and the prize was my respect. The “What If” game was the result of a vivid imagination. I didn’t just ask a rhetorical question and move on with my life. I pictured it playing out and either laughed at the ridiculousness or took a moment to be grateful for my rather normal existence.
As an adult, I don’t publicize this game or use it to determine who deserves my respect — but I still play a version of it. And the ideal setting for the new edition of the game is somewhere new. Because new places lead to new possibilities. I’ve found that time spent day-dreaming of alternate realities can either show me a new route to explore or leave me grateful for the life I currently lead. Simply put, the “What If” Travel Edition lends perspective. You’ll be confronted both by what you have in excess (your freedoms, luxuries, and privilege) and by what you want more of (your hopes, dreams, and desires).
The “What If” game grants you permission to try on a different life, if only for a moment. The Travel Edition is essentially an extension pack, that lasts however long you can afford the destination. You can go wherever you want and be whoever you want. In the San Francisco edition, I wasn’t afraid to introduce myself to strangers. I wasn’t afraid that anyone would think I was awkward. Because you have to risk to have reward and because the game would be over soon.
I travel to experience the “what ifs” that I could never have anticipated. I travel to be reminded that no matter how many scenarios I imagine, I cannot guarantee who or what will greet me upon arrival. All I can do is choose how to respond. If the “What If” Travel Edition taught me anything, it’s that imagining outlandish possibilities is only a byproduct — the real point of the game is to see how you’ll respond to what you never saw coming.