What would you wish for?
“Mommy,” Twelve is in the backseat, “it sounds like two fairies are duking it out in the trunk.”
“No,” her will for whimsy makes me happy, “I’m pretty sure it’s two fairies duking it out.”
“Should I stop the car and break up their fight?”
“If you do, maybe they’ll grant you wishes. Two fairies, so six wishes. What would you wish for Mama?”
“Six, huh, that’s an awful lot of wishes.”
“And you can’t share them.” Twelve is so generous, “they’re all for you.” This from the child who’s liable to hand me a twenty when she owes me twelve and say, “keep the change and buy yourself a chai.”
I take a deep breath.
- I wish my book would be published and would be optioned for a lucrative movie deal.
“Wanna go to Hollywood with me?” I am checking for her reaction. “Wait, is that one wish or two?” I don’t want to seem greedy.
“Nope,” she rules. “That’s just one.”
Wow. I still have five to go. I am surprised I can’t just rattle off wishes—I’m taking this whole thing very seriously.
- Okay, I wish for a roof and new windows for our house. And new carpet. And new paint.
Later I’ll wonder why I didn’t wish for the addition I’ve always I thought would make my house a pearl. Or why didn’t I wish for the mortgage to be paid off? Or why didn’t I wish for a castle in Scotland, a beach house in Delaware, and a getaway in British Columbia? I’m in practical place today and that practicality merely compounds with wishes three and four.
- I’d like new tires for this car. Really good safe-in-all-weather ones. And …
- I’d like to do whatever the PT Cruiser needs so it keeps running well for a long time.
She doesn’t remark about these wishes, just waits, hands folded in her lap, looking at the back of my head expectantly from the back seat. I’m stretching now (even though later I’ll think of lots more wishes, like full-ride scholarships to great colleges for both kids—then realize that she would have said those weren’t for me, but of course they are).
- I’d like to lose thirty pounds.
This frequently chatty, tangentially minded child barely blinks after this one. She always tells me I look perfect. Now it’s out there and we drive for a few blocks in silence.
“And the sixth,” she says calmly from the backseat, “let me guess, world peace?”
I laugh because she knows me so well. Then I surprise us both:
- World Understanding. I wish for world understanding.
In response to the tilt of her head, questioning without asking, I say, “I think maybe understanding needs to come before peace. And maybe we’ll never get entirely to peace, but understanding could go along way to smoothing out a lot of bad situations.”
I pull up in front of her dance studio and she gathers her bag and pointe shoes. “Good wishes, Mama.” She bounces out of the car and waves. “Bye, love you.”
“Love you, too,” I call after her retreating back.
As I drive toward the yoga studio, I sort over my wishes and ponder. One through five are all about me; but, I give myself a break, they’re all about ways to help me be a better me. They are also all within my power to accomplish if I really set my focus and make them my goals. Are these my actual goals? The first one is, to be sure. The others are about living well, pieces of a whole picture that I want to move toward.
I think about how I can do what I want to when I’m not overwhelmed. Overwhelmed, I go toward my worst weaknesses, sliding into bad eating habits, sleeping poorly, not exercising, and spending money thoughtlessly. When I’m not overwhelmed, I’m upbeat, powerful, happy. I’m also content, even without six wishes; I have the strength and determination to take small steps toward fixing the inevitable problems that are a part of every day living. I have patience, knowing maybe even not one thing can be entirely accomplished and put behind me in one move.
And world understanding? I can’t wish that to happen by myself. What I can do is my part. If I figure out how to be my best self, if I teach my children how and live by example, if I learn how to hold tight to center even when the overwhelming wheel spins, then I can look up once in a while from the day-to-day worries. I can reach out to try to understand one other person, one situation, one issue. I can lift the energetic vibration I cast out and know there’s a ripple effect, not unlike the lasting vibration the tingshas make when they ring, purposefully at the end of practice or surprisingly in the trunk of my car.
I used to say that if everyone in the world stretched their hamstrings every day, we’d have world peace. Knowing more about yoga and the body now, I currently believe it’s the quadriceps. Get me the world’s leaders in a room, put ‘em all on yoga mats, and let’s stretch those quads. Boom. World Peace. Until I can teach UN Yoga, I’ll keep working on my little corner of the world. This very day I’m joyfully teaching at the Summer Writing Festival in Iowa City. Thanks for joining me for the journey under the full thunder moon, xoR