Our What if? essay series encourages you to embark on philosophical adventures more frequently and motivates you to regularly push past the boundaries of conventional thought.

This open-ended thought experiment is participatory and accessible to everyone. To read previous submissions, click here

To find out more about it and how you can submit an essay, please visit:

How to participate in the What If project





Valerie Gross is a writer and circle facilitator, living in her native Manhattan.  She is the author of Magdala: A Love Story That Has No End, a historical fiction of Mary Magdalene, written for human beings who have sex and care about people.  Currently at work on the story of an 19th century American with whom she is totally in love, she is grateful for the understanding of her husband Paul who doesn’t mind when she falls in love with dead people, and the indifference of her dog who only wants cookies.


What if? by Valerie Gross

What if we could visit our younger selves, like Emily in Wilder’s Our Town, but unlike her, be heard?  What if we could whisper to ourselves, don’t worry, this won’t last, or chose this one, not that one, or, I am amazed at how strong you are, I forgot how hard this actually was.

What if we actually do?   What if those voices and dreams that guide us – intuition, gut instinct, that sixth sense – are actually how, through thought and emotion and reflection we, unbeknownst to ourselves, wade through the 4th dimension of time and make contact?  What if, right now, our older selves are coaxing us along, guiding, encouraging, inspiring?  What if this crosses generations, and that our grandchildren, biological and spiritual, are the ones who made us wake up to the poisoning of the oceans and the air?

What if those who seem most original in their thinking, “ahead of their time” as history reveals, were simply – again, perhaps unbeknownst even to themselves – those most receptive to these whispers, these ideas that come out of “nowhere?”

What if this were all true, and we knew it, and we could cultivate that receptivity, and feel continuously and deeply immersed in the flow of life as it has been, and as it is becoming?  Would it be utterly paralyzing to feel all the consequences of our decisions, or would it make us unstoppably motivated?

Think of the art and books and laws and music and ideas that have changed your life, maybe even saved your life – might you have had a hand in inspiring all that back through the river of time, and might then your work and choices and creations be inspired by the souls of some one or hundreds who are whispering in your ear, right now?  If you could know this for sure, how might you live differently, or experience your life differently?  How might you relate to the art you make, and the art that has made you?


V.G. 2013


Photo of Valerie by Alison Bank

Published: October 29th, 2013

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