Be careful what you wish for … doesn’t that piece of advice seem contradictory to everything we’ve ever been taught? Millions of shooting stars have witnessed the upturned faces of yearning souls who are in turn watching the cosmic-fire streaking across the sky while whispering their hope-filled wishes. Almost as if the stars themselves were part of some galactic-postal system that could take those whispered wishes and deliver them to the right place for fulfillment. We elevate wishing to something beyond our reach like the shooting stars themselves. We wish grandly. It isn’t supposed to be a reasonable exercise. And while some wishes can be pragmatic, most of the time it seems we are wishing for something we know we can’t have but want desperately just the same. And because of that we are rarely careful in our wishing.
Most of us spend a fair chunk of time wishing for something: to be someplace else, a phone call, a second date, to visit a loved one far away. Maybe it’s for a better job – or perhaps any job, the “For Sale” sign changing to “Sold”, that the car will make it through another winter. Some wish to be thinner, to graduate, to start fresh someplace else. Each of these wishes has a fairly reasonable outcome attached to it and yet because they are wishes and not yet reality, there is some inkling within our psyche that tells us this “wish” might be unattainable. They aren’t necessarily extravagant “pie-in-the-sky” thinking; they are merely hopeful.
So when is it that hopeful thinking crosses into territory that requires caution? I suppose when we wish so hard and so long that we don’t see the reality … the reality that the shooting-star postal delivery failed to hit the mark and our wish, undelivered to the fulfillment center, is now lost. Perhaps it’s a wish for a miracle cure … another chance with someone you want to be with … or just one more minute with some one gone but missed dearly. When we don’t, won’t or can’t re-set our most heartfelt wishes to be more realistic. When something we want becomes a goal for the mere sake of achieving it, no matter the cost. Like Walter White (Breaking Bad), we lose ourselves if the wish takes over and clouds all perception of reality. Perhaps caution is warranted too when our wishes conflict with the wishes of others. What about when we want something for ourselves but someone else also wants it? Or doesn’t want to give it up? Or perhaps won’t give in? Being left to clutch unwaveringly to an unfulfilled wish can be a lonely thing, heartbreaking even. Not hopeful, just sad…yellow caution lights flashing.
The challenge then is to wish with abandon – extravagantly but cautiously too. “Aspera Ad Astra” reach for the stars with your wishful thinking but keep an eye out in case a pinch of caution is needed to temper that overly extravagant thinking.
As for me? I am wishing for many things some of which are unattainable so I need to give myself a dose of caution from time to time. Today, however, I am just wishing I were on Beaver Island in Michigan enjoying the fall colors and the incredible night skies filled with a smear of stars…and I will be in 2 weeks. Pragmatic, attainable yet desperately wanted…a wish about to come true so no caution needed on this one!