6.8.09

Wishes

Kind of a filler post, but this is something I always think about. Plus, Twitter is down so I have to do something.

Have you ever thought about what you'd do with Three Wishes? Let's say there really is a lamp with a genie, or let's say the most powerful organization in the world offers you hush wishes for your knowledge of how Zelda is a mind control test gone wrong. Regardless, you have three chances to ask for something; something wonderful and extravagant and fulfilling.

What do you wish for?

Ever since the movie Bedazzled came out, my thoughts on this subject have changed. More often then not, the story of the genie is always one of knowing what you have now and appreciating it or realizing that acquiring things can only lead to suffering and heartache. The genie or devil or wildly wealthy benefactor always seems to twist your words and you end up with literally what you asked for, but not in the way you'd imagined it. You want a million dollars, so you get a winning lottery ticket. The problem is, it's all taxed and you end up with 500,000 dollars, plus undue family and friend attention, and all that goes with the windfall award. You wish to be famous and suddenly you've been turned into a serial killer who's murdered 20 nuns on a 14 state spree. You wish to be in movies and you are now an unpaid intern for an independent film company.

Knowing things can be interpreted differently the broader the scope, I started thinking of ways to get these elaborate things without confusion and I ended up running mental circles and keeping track of long statements laying out exactly it was that I wanted. I didn't want there to be any misunderstanding, any room for interpretation. The wish was to be as concise and as simple as possible.

This meant wishing for simple things.

There's just too many ways you can become rich. You could be a drug lord, or running a human traffic ring or just a regular gang member. They are technically well off because they avoid paying taxes and don't generally deal with a payroll department. The point being you could be any number of salacious individuals whose power and status have made them well off. But would you want to live like that? Would a wish like this need to be more well defined or simpler?

Think about what you'd really like. Do you want to be rich or do you want to be well off? Do you want to be fabulously wealthy or comfortable? Are you willing to trade your life for another just to be able to accommodate the trappings of a large bank account?

To me the answer is sadly pedestrian. I know that money doesn't solve everything and it doesn't bring happiness. But I'm practical enough to know that when people in my house get paid, everyone relaxes for a day. The stack of bills doesn't seem as big because some get taken care of. Our gas tanks are filled, our fridge is stocked and we even some times have enough to take a night out to forget that we have to work for the next 60 years. Or we buy our selves something we've needed put have constantly put off, like an oil change or a pair of shoes or a toy for the kids.

I like my job. It affords me time off when needed, the people are nice, the company is respectable and for the most part is less susceptible to market conditions. It's not drawing or writing for a living, but it's good work. What I'd wish for is a 10% raise on my salary without changing jobs. I'm not going to live outside my means, but knowing you can leave below your means makes it even sweeter when suddenly you don't have to. All I want is to be able to take my lady out on dates, take my kids to movies, make sure people have birthday parties with presents, gas in my well tended to car, chewing gum in my dashboard when I need it and the ability to buy a breakfast sandwich once in a while. I'd like to take my family out to eat once a week. I'd like to take a weekend road trip and not worry if I can swing a hotel room.

There's a song by Ingrid Michaelson that has a line which says, "Let's get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France - Let's get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance." It's a wonderful notion and yes it's a song that requires fanciful and lyric twining of words, but the idea of being comfortable and friendly and giving with your wealth is especially endearing to me. But it again shows how careful you'd have to be wishing to be rich.

But wait, I have three wishes.

I think the easiest thing to do is to wish for something that would make you happy for a little while, but is not able to be twisted. Being rich and powerful and famous leaves the door wide open. Being happy or not worrying in general can be something twisted into a blissed-out drug induced existence. Even something like world peace can be taken wrong. An Earth without humans is a world at peace, right?

The Bhagavad Gita (among others) teaches us that material possession is unseemly and should be avoided in favor of spiritual awareness, but does allow for gradations or levels of enlightenment. Buddhism talks of moderation in all things, we can only assume that means materialism. Some schools of philosophy teach us that things don't make the self, the world does not make the self, sometimes the self doesn't even make the self. But there is, in all these cases, something to be said for creature comforts.

That said, I love Lego. I love Star Wars Lego and I'd love to wish for every set Lego put out, but that would mean I'd have no room in my house to put them up. I'd also have to be careful how to wish for it. I don't want EVERY SINGLE Star Wars Lego set because I'd be receiving every single one, removing them from other people AND ensuring I'd need a warehouse to hold them all. I'd have to say something specific, "I wish for one of each set of Star Wars LEGO." Actually, I'd probably wish for two of each so I could trade with other people for different types of sets and parts. Then for storage or display I'd figure it out on my own. I'm sure eventually I'll have enough room to have a Lego room where I can build and store, but for now having the sets would be great.

It's an exercise, a game. I'm not as greedy and materialistic as all this may seem. It's fun to think about, but you know practically that you make your own way in life and what you do along the way and how many people you can impact positively is more important that how much you have when you die. We all want what's best for our family and friends and given the opportunity, I know most of us would wish for their health and happiness.

Wait, three wishes?

Finally I'd wish for a Snickers ice cream bar because those things are delicious.

Carry on.

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