Spoilers, this post is going to touch on the Wonder Woman 1984 movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet but you plan to, come back to this later. The rest of you can read this whether you’ve seen it or not, because what I really want to talk about is the misunderstood art of wishing.
Okay, this is where the spoilers start, and I’m only belaboring the point because one of my wishes is that other people would work harder to avoid spoilers. H/T to those who spoiled my personal experience of the fourth Harry Potter book while I was still reading the first one, and the person who spoiled the ending of The Crying Game for me, and the person who spoiled the main plot point of The Walking Dead season 6. Geez you guys. Schtaaaaaap.
I have a serious problem with the wishing issue in WW84.
...wait, that looks wrong... not planning on eighty-four world wars... Whatever, I trust you can disambiguate.
There are two big problems with the way that wishing is portrayed in this movie.
First, it shows people getting their heart’s desire, which then makes them selfish and corrupts their morals.
Second, it shows everyone all around the world making purely selfish and destructive wishes.
I just don’t think people are that mean.
I also know that most people can’t really articulate a wish, not even a single one.
Perfect example: A couple hours before I wrote this, I was on a group Zoom call, and we were joking around about Conan the Barbarian. “What is best in life?” I quoted. Then I thought, what the heck, why not actually ask everyone this?
You next - what do you think is best in life?
Nobody asked me, although the answer is obviously “listening to audiobooks on triple speed while solving cryptograms.”
Everyone was stumped by this idea!
“Don’t you all like anything??”
One person said “sleeping” and another person said “vacation.” That was it. There were no other answers.
I was like: Coffee? Beer? Chocolate? Tacos? Baskets of puppies?
Why aren’t people better at wishing for things and having favorites and enjoying things?
I talk about this all the time, because I want to inspire more people to try it, but all my clients have universally quit on the “perfect day” exercise. This is a very basic thought exercise, the point of which is, what would you do on your perfect day? Because most of those things you could probably do every day.
The art of wishing is very closely connected to this concept of the perfect day.
I have a variety of “perfect days,” at least one of which I pretty much live out every weekend.
One variety is that I go to downtown Portland, have lunch, then spend about two hours wandering around Powell’s Books, after which I have dinner with my family. In normal times I would do this three or four times a year.
Another version is that I sleep in, have Fancy Breakfast with my husband, then take a three-hour nap, and then we go to the park for a while and walk down to the beach to watch the sunset, and then we eat popcorn and watch a movie. That’s the easy one, the one we do all the time.
I don’t see why my first wish, the wish about the bookstore and having dinner with my family, is such a selfish or mean-spirited wish that it would destroy the planet if everyone tried it.
In one way, it is a rather selfish wish, because I think the real heartfelt wishes that people do carry are much more altruistic.
Why wasn’t there a single example of a worried parent making a wish by a child’s hospital bed?
Why wasn’t there a single example of an estranged couple reconciling and falling in love again?
Why wasn’t there a single example of someone wishing for their dog to be cured of dog cancer and live another few years?
There are other wishes that I think real people have wished. Wishes for lost objects to be returned. Wishes for ruined or deleted photographs to be restored. Wishes to not have dropped one’s smartphone in the river.
I mean, those aren’t so bad, are they?
I was at the coffee shop one day, back in the good old days when you could just sit there with your entire face out and nobody would care. A grade-school kid was in line, asking his high-school-aged older brother for money for a hot chocolate. The older brother was like, Get lost, kid.
I reached into my bag and pulled out a $5 bill. I got up and handed it to the younger boy and said, “Here, you can get yourself a cocoa.”
I probably enjoyed watching him smugly order his drink in front of his brother more than he enjoyed actually drinking it. I’ve paid more to watch movies that were less entertaining.
The best wishes are simple and easy.
Realizing this has transformed my life. I’ve gradually become aware that not only is it straightforward to make many of my own wishes come true, but it’s also pretty easy and fun to grant wishes for other people.
That’s why I keep doing micro-lending, and why I sponsor a child’s education, and why I contributed to build a well, and why I do the giving tree thing in the winter. It is very satisfying to do nice things for other people.
Maybe you’d like to grant a wish? Maybe a wish for me?
Maybe to wear a mask when you go outside? Or if you don’t want to do that, maybe to get your COVID-19 vaccine?
Maybe better than that. Would you spend some time thinking about what is best in life, and what your perfect day would be, and what is something nice you would wish for someone else?
It seems to be the way of the world that people are better at wishing good things on each other than they are at wishing for anything for themselves. And that’s the movie I wish someone would make.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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