Wishes. I’ve been thinking about them a lot, mainly because this year is drawing to a close, and it’s been an odd, disappointing and delightful one for many reasons. My Chapter 38 project fizzled mid-year (also for many reasons: new job that kept me busy, the realization that I couldn’t actually learn something new each week and write about it, and a novel acceptance that meant the only thing I was learning was how to novel — which, in truth, was a big and important and not at all “only” kind of thing. So, in truth, it didn’t so much fizzle as it did become “Chapter 38: In Which I Learn to Write a Decent Novel). I broke my first bone, which was scary (especially so without health insurance). There have been some long-term effects of last year’s bout with Lyme Disease which have taken their toll, both emotionally and physically. My personal life did a ridiculously huge 360 on the travel/living front, the relationship front, the family front, the just about every other front (and possibly back) that exist. I’ve gained new friends, much to my joy, and I’ve lost a few, painfully, to the ravages of time or distance or death. I know there are other changes — good, bad, unexpected, harrowing, delightful — but I can’t remember all of them. Suffice to say it’s been a whirl-wind kind of year. I’ve gone where the breath of the wind has taken me, and delightfully so.
But that’s not my style, really. I’m a planner, a plotter (excerpt, perhaps, in writing, although I’m learning to be). I like to look ahead, I like to have a designated designation. Even if I don’t reach it, I enjoy the process and I enjoy aiming my arrow at whatever that thing is ahead.
On Thanksgiving Day, I did what I do every year (well, besides stuff myself): I picked out a non-fiction book from the library to read. This year’s book was, “The Wishing Year: A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire,” by Noelle Oxenhandler (Great name, right?). I expected it to be a little woo-woo, perhaps a little too soft for me, but a good read nonetheless. Surprisingly, delightfully, Oxenhandler is a skeptic through and through, a quality that brought her book out of the realm of “The Secret” and into the realm of something like a Mary Roach version of a wish book — witty, scientific, and still open to the awe that can come from just putting your dreams out there and seeing what happens.
There are a lot of premises in the book, and a lot of topics, like whether it’s really okay to wish for something for yourself, and if so, if that something can be material. She looks at what a wish is, how one can go about wishing “properly” (meaning, in some cases, without making a devil’s bargain), what to do if wishes do or don’t come true, and a whole lot more, all wrapped up in great prose and a finely told story. She also, perhaps most importantly to me, seems to grasp that wishing is not enough — there’s a lot of hard work and risks and drive and courage that goes into not just wishing, but making said wishes come true.
But… this wasn’t meant to be a book review, by any means. It was meant to be a lead-in to the meat of what I really wanted to write about, which is wishes. My own, yours, everyone else’s. Instead of making resolutions this year, or goals, or any of those things, I’m going to put three wishes out in the world for the next year. I’m getting a head start, because I’m excited, because wishes take time, because I like calender years but don’t think the universe abides my them as strictly as I do.
Traditionally, we write a wish on a piece of paper and put it in a safe place. We hide a wish beneath our bed, or utter it in secret with our eyes closed. We offer up hope to a moving star, send it out into the air as a whisper, keep it hidden and close to our hearts. But what happens when a wish is spoken aloud, offered up to the world on something loud as laughter, when a wish isn’t hidden in our chest, but is the key to opening our heart to the joys of the world?
I have no idea. But I’m going to do it anyway. I have a lot of wishes, of course. Some of them are huge (world peace, health and happiness for those I care about…). Some are very tiny (don’t get sick the week that I go home to see my family). But others are the kinds of wishes that feel right for me to work toward, to hope toward.
Here are my three wishes for the new year, as best as I can write them for now:
- I wish to age each day with grace, courage and strength.
- I wish to become financially solvent to point where I can afford the small piece of land I’ve always dreamed of having.
- I wish to progress my creative writing self in both short stories and novels.
They are slightly vague, I know, and perhaps that in itself opens me up to a devil’s bargain, but that is okay for me, I think. I have a sentiment and a solid knowing that goes into each of these wishes. And while I don’t have a solid plan for how to get there, I know that the plan will come to me if I can just keep the destination in mind.
Do you have wishes? Have you put them out into the world? Have you whispered them close to your heart? How will you make them come true?
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.