An Infinity of Iffinities

By Balaji Prasad

“If I were a rich man,
Daidle deedle daidle,
Daidle daidle deedle daidle dumb,
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum,
If I were a wealthy man..."

~ From "Fiddler on the Roof"

If! If only...
If only they would be kinder and more understanding...
If only he were a little less selfish and a little more reasonable


If! If only...
If only people would follow the rules.
If only people were a little less political and stopped twisting words and logic like pretzels


If! If only...
If only I were younger and more vibrant as I used to be...
If only my parents had been more aware of me and given me the boost I needed, think of what I would have become!

If! If!! If!!!

An affinity for an iffinity

Since there are so many if's, why not just one more?

If No If

If I didn't do the silly if,
And lived as if each thing were thing,
Might I then get one thin whiff,
Of what it'd be that makes heart sing?
If I could somehow end if-fling,
This Houdini'd cut his string,
And be as free as bird on wing,
I'd sing, you'd sing, we all would sing,
A thing'd be then just simple thing,
A simple, simple, simple thing!

The curse of imagination

The point is that we are endowed with the gift of imagination. Or, a curse. It all depends on how we use this infinite resource that lets us play endless mind games with ourselves.

Imagination allows us to transcend real things, and transport ourselves to faraway lands and times, quite often to universes that do not exist. With our feet planted firmly on the ground, and our heads in the clouds, a poor body gets stretched to its breaking point between heaven and earth. And while my head and feet engage in an endless quarrel, I die a slow and torturous death, tormented by parallel universes that could be, but never come to pass, while I walk around in a numbed trance, compelled to deal with the day-to-day realities that my feet all-but-unknowingly plod wearily on.

The point also is that we have choice. We not only have this unlimited resource of imagination but we also have the unconstrained choice of how much of it to use, how to use it, and to what purpose. We can deploy this powerful resource just because we can, or because we must: because it makes sense to use it to our advantage.

A single universe

When you live in a single universe, you live in a simple universe. But when you become “if-fy", you fabricate multiple universes and are doomed to forever compare the imaginary with the real, torn asunder between the two.

But we can be better than this! Let us agree to banish the conditional conjunction from the lexicon: the rowdy, rambunctious “If". Unless, of course, you find yourself playing the role of the Fiddler on the Roof or another role in some other play. Then by all means, be if-fy, very if-fy.


Balaji Prasad is an IIT/IIM graduate, a published author, SAT/ACT Online and Offline Coach, interview, resume, and career coach at NewCranium. Contact: 704.746.9779 or