Home > Random Musings > Through the Woods: Some Thoughts on Wishing

Through the Woods: Some Thoughts on Wishing

 I was going through some stuff on my bookshelf, tonight. (I’m constantly rearranging things.) Tucked into an old diary was something I’d written in lavender ink at least a few years back.

It was a wish letter. You write down everything that you want, as if it will happen. For instance, if you want to win the lottery, you write, “Soon, I will win the lottery. And it will be great. I’ll buy a pony.”

Something like that.

Except I didn’t write that I’d win the lottery. I didn’t even remember writing it, until I found the sheet of notebook paper. Then the memory seemed to come loose. I remembered writing it. I remember how I felt at the time, and I remember being very careful in choosing my words.

Everything I wrote came true. Every single thing. And something about that made me shiver a little, because while everything happened, everything did not happen with the same outcome or intentions as I’d hoped.

I couldn’t capture the way it would all end up – just that it would happen. It seems a lot like the end of a fairytale, where we’re told The End or They Lived Happily Ever After. You think, then what? What’s next? When you find out, it’s not always pretty. The facts might still be there, but tone matters, doesn’t it? Motivations matter, too. They change things.

Of course, I had no way of knowing that any of that stuff would really happen. It’s just something that I do when life’s crazy, or I’m frustrated with a situation. It’s similar to writing a letter I’ll never send. I’m just putting it out there.

And it’s just so damn funny. Not really funny ha-ha, but…damned strange. I believe in the power of positive thinking. A good attitude helps make life better. It can make a difference in so much. But I can’t stop thinking about how the wish went wrong.

They often do, don’t they? (I suppose it’s utterly amazing that I just finished The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman, in which wishing played a large role).

Nothing teaches that truth more than Sondheim’s famous musical Into the Woods. “Be careful the wish you make…” “Nice is different than good…”

Things go awry, even when we don’t mean that to happen. We set out on one path, only to find ourselves on another – wondering what happened. Hopefully, there aren’t any wolves. Or giants. Or witches. Often, there are. (But witches can be good.)

I suppose it’s odd how things work out. How things happen, or don’t happen – and what we gain, or lose, in the process. Perhaps wishing isn’t magic, as we’re told in childhood. Wish upon a star. Make a wish when you cross the railroad tracks. Make a wish when you blow out your birthday candles. (That last one better be true, damn it.)

But I think wishing for something often sets a person on the path toward that Wish – whatever it is. It’s probably wise to be careful what the wish is and how loud it’s spoken. Then again, wishes aren’t really about practicality. They’re about hope and desire – something slightly out of reach.

I don’t wish too often – and I don’t wish particularly well. (Othello lent me a bit of his phrasing – about loving not too wisely but too well.) But there is hope still ingrained within the act of wishing – of writing something down and making it more solid than it was previously.

Write down your wishes, your dreams. Write down your hopes. Perhaps that will be the beginning of your journey toward them. (Unless your name is Anthony – and you’re hoping to send people to that cornfield. In that case, you’re grounded.)

For whatever you’re wishing or hoping for, I hope you get it. And I hope that it’s better than you dared dream it would be.

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  1. February 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    beautiful. makes me want to write down my wishes and dreams. your writing is magical.

    • Ali
      February 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      Thank you very much! I’m really glad that you enjoy this. 🙂

  2. February 16, 2011 at 12:58 am

    This is so cool. I also wished for a pony, and now have two horses. I definitely should’ve wished to win the lottery…

  3. February 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

    When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be tall. I wanted to be taller than my daddy, and I wanted to be tall enough to touch the doorframe. That is what I wished for. My dad is only about 5’6″, and to touch the doorframe, I only had to grow to be about 5’10”? or so. I’m a touch under 6-feet tall, but I find myself wondering, if I had wished to be even taller…would it have changed things? I very much identified with this post, it’s true.

    I’m in the middle of trying to write down goals and it’s a tough process. I’m bad at dreaming for myself. But thanks for reminding me why it is so important!

    • Ali
      February 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

      Dream big, Greek. And let me know if I can help you figure out goals, ok?

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