Recently, two women standing in line behind me at an ATM machine were discussing the fact that machines had shortchanged them in the past. After a long, involved story of what she had to do to obtain her money, one of them commented that the machines never overpaid her.
"That's my dearest wish," the second woman said. "I'd love to get extra money sometime."
"I wouldn't give it back if I did," the first woman said.
"Me either," the second woman agreed.
I finished my transaction and left them to their dreams of riches. But their conversation made me wonder what my dearest wish is. If I could have anything I wished for, what would I choose?
I do know that I wouldn't wish for a machine to spew twenty-dollar bills at me. I'd feel obligated to return the money, so that wish wouldn't do me much good. I don't think I'd wish for lots of money, in any form. What good would it do me to be rich, if I ended up like Howard Hughes?
While I'd rather be healthy than rich, I've no desire to live in poverty. I'd prefer to have more to think about than my day-to-day survival. And I certainly want the mental stability to enjoy what I have.
The trouble with wishes is that they all too often come true. And when they do, it's usually in a very literal way, with consequences we never imagined when we first wished. Wishes are like everything else--they are balanced. Yin and yang. Sunshine and shadows. A cost for every benefit. I need a comprehensive wish--one that covers health, wealth, and wisdom, with no disagreeable aftermath.
I unthinkingly wish for foolish things. I wish the person in line ahead of me would hurry up. I wish my internet connection was faster. I wish I didn't have to clean house. I wish the Sunday paper still carried my favorite comics. What if we only have so much "wish credit," and I've frittered mine away on insignificant wishes? I wish I knew.
There are few things I'd change in my life, given the opportunity to do so, and yet I'm not so foolish as to wish things would stay exactly as they are. My life isn't perfect, but it's good. Maybe that's why if a genie popped into my life right now and offered to grant my dearest wish, I wouldn't know what to wish for.
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