If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.—Scottish proverb
If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side.
If “ifs” and “ands” were pots and pans,
There’d be no work for tinkers’ hands.
I grew up watching reruns of I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched. I’ll admit I often dreamed of either having my own Jeannie like Tony Nelson or having magical powers like Samantha Stephens. When I was bullied in school, my favorite fantasy was that with a twitch of my nose, a quick nod of my head, or even a wave of my hand, I could slam those bullies against the wall and cause them extreme pain. That may sound pretty violent, but I wanted the magical powers so that they would remember the pain but have no lasting effects from it. Maybe then, they would learn the pain they caused others. It was a frequent fantasy of mine.
I have often wondered what I would wish for if I had just three wishes. I suspect many of us have had that thought. If I were to make a grand gesture with my wishes, I’d wish for world peace, equality and acceptance for all, and that people would get the chance they deserve in life. That last one could backfire as in the old three wishes jokes. The three wishes joke (or genie joke) is a joke in which a character is given three wishes by a genie and fails to make the best use of them. Typical scenarios include releasing a genie from a lamp or crossing paths with the devil. The first two wishes go as expected in the jokes, with the third wish being misinterpreted or granted in an unexpected fashion that doesn’t reflect the wish’s intent.
Suppose I were to be purely selfish with my wishes. In that case, I’d wish to be the man I always dreamed of being: more intelligent*, taller, more handsome, physically fit with a great butt, a great head of hair, one skin tone (my vitiligo is another source of embarrassment for me), and like most men, more endowed. The second wish would be to have all the money I’ll ever need in life. I wouldn’t need to be a billionaire, just wealthy enough to live very comfortably, not have to work, and be able to travel the world. My final wish would be to find the love of my life and live happily ever after with him.
For my whole life, when I have seen the first star of the night, I have always said silently to myself:
Starlight, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.
Since I was a teenager, I have always secretly said the same wish each time: to find someone who I will fall in love with and vice versa. This particular wish was partially how I dealt with my burgeoning sexuality. Part of my wish was always that if it was a man, then I’d know it was the right thing, and if it was a woman, then that was the right thing. Now I simply just wish for the man of my dreams, someone I will have a wonderful relationship with for the rest of our lives. So far, it hasn’t come true, but I will keep wishing on that star.
Of course, I have had various other wishes throughout my life. I’ve wished that loved ones who have died were alive again. I’ve wished that I had met friends earlier in life. I’ve wished that my parents were more accepting of my sexuality. At times, I even wished that I were dead; depression will do that to you. Of course, I’ve also wished that I had finished my Ph.D., or that I could become a perpetual student and travel the world learning new things. I’ve even wished for awful things to happen to our current president and his soulless minions. While I’d love to have three wishes, I’m not sure if I would take the selfless route or the selfish route, but I wouldn’t want to be greedy and have an endless supply of wishes. Maybe five or six wishes would be enough.
If you had three wishes and only three wishes, what would they be? Would you benefit yourself or help others? Would you advance your career, health, or financial well-being, or would you further your social, emotional, or spiritual needs? Would you blow through your wishes right away, or would you hold a few in reserve? You may be thinking this is a silly or cliché question, but our answers can be quite telling. For example, what do your wishes say about your priorities? Do they focus on possessions or enhance your relationships? What do your wishes say about your current situation versus your ultimate goals? Are your wishes far-fetched or clearly within your grasp?
*By “more intelligent,” I mean that I wish I could read quicker (I’ve always been a slow reader) and retain more of what I read. If you were to get to know me in person, you’d find out that I have a LOT of trivial knowledge in my head that emerges at random intervals. However, I am terrible with dates and names. For a historian, my mind is not chronological. I get mixed up on things very easily.