The Third Wish

There are probably a bunch of fairy tales – not to mention a plethora of jokes – about some soul who finds a lamp in the sand (in a cave, on the golf course), buffs it with a shirt sleeve and presto! A genie appears. Said genie has been cooped up inside this lamp like an airline passenger stuck in a plane on a runway, and like the airline passenger, is overcome with gratitude at liberation. He (it’s generally referred to as ‘he,’ although experts would tell you that the genie genus is of indeterminate sex) offers the liberator three wishes.

What would you wish for? I’ve often mused on the three things I’d like the most. And I’ll bet that if you asked fifty people what three things they’d wish for, the first two answers will come up: Love and Money. But the third wish, ah, that’s the kicker. That’s what gives you the insight into the life of the person doing the wishing.

There are those, I’m sure, who would wish for the cosmetics. I want to lose fifty pounds, I want bigger breasts and a smaller butt, I want to be beautiful. But then you realize that if you have the love, you don’t need the cosmetics, and if you have the money, you can buy them and not waste the wish. Wish for something else.

So then, it might be aptitude or ability. I want to play scratch golf, I want to have a 165 IQ, I want to make love like my partner will never forget. Okay, we’re getting somewhere now. Less shallow, but still pretty self-centered.

There are things that would give us comfort and ease. One man I know wishes for a peaceful death for his ailing father; it pains him to see his dad in agony. Still another wishes her younger brother would get back into rehab. I wish my Los Angeles friend could walk without feeling like there’s an ice pick in her left hip. Even when the remedy is for another, knowing the other is at peace gives us relief. We feel guilty, but there it is.

Or how about peace of mind? I wish my daughter would settle down, I hope my doctor knows what he’s doing with this operation, I wish there weren’t a war.

Should one wish for something huge, like world peace? How long would it last: an instant, a generation, forever? It’s not worth much if there are still injustices like slavery, corrupt governments and human rights violations. Still, the person who wishes for peace says something about themselves: I know that there are other nations out there and I want to live in a world where we value each other.

Then there are the God wishes. I wish there were a cure for cancer. I wish there weren’t a famine in Somalia. I wish my mother would get well.

And how do we reconcile what we’re wishing for on the one hand with what the Universe wants on the other? When we pray, are we wishing to God? Please let me find a job, I wish you could convince my husband not to leave me, I wish you would please send me the mortgage payment. Here, let me light another candle so You know I really want this. We are told that God wants to hear our hopes and desires – and wishes but we are also told that we must say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’. Then it becomes His wish and not ours. Can you live with that?

What would you wish for?

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