I've been studing Buddhism for awhile now, always looking for someone to help me make more sense of things in the world.
I just got a book from the library called "Living with the Devil" by Stephen Batchelor. He interprets Buddhist theory as a concept of contingencies...everything happens b/c something else happened. His first chapter opens with a story from his childhood where his mother says things would have been different if another man, a man in a photo, had been his father.
That got me thinking about the what ifs in my life. I rest on some of these every once and awhile, especially the time related to when my Mother died and I was about to graduate from high school. What if my mother had been here to help me choose a college, what if my mother helped me get through college, etc.
These can go on and on but as long as you don't dwell on them the take on the same spectre as what if I won the lottery. If you dwell on these what ifs it will drive you crazy.
But in the scope of what Mr. Batchelor is trying to say about Buddhism, everything is a what if. Every action has a result, you change any part of that action and the result will be different. Although Buddhism attempts to get the "you" out of the equation, I think this is a very positive way to consider how much power we have over what goes on in our lives.
What about you? Write me back, tell me what you think...