I was sitting around with friends one night when one of them asked, “Have you ever had that weird experience where you wished for something and it seemed to come true right afterwards?” Some of us indicated that we had indeed experienced such a thing while I uncharacteristically remained quiet. I’d like to say it was because I wanted to keep silent and hear everyone else’s opinions, but the truth is I really just wanted someone to ask me what I thought after everyone got quiet. Because I had an answer and a theory.
After a moment of me still not saying anything, the conversation trailed off a bit into a slightly disturbing silence. Several eyes turned toward me expectantly as if the silence was my personal fault (do I really talk that much?) instead of you know, everyone’s in the room.
“Well, Leighton,” the original questioner said, “Has anything like that ever happened to you?”
“I’m so glad you asked,” I answered, “Because I have a theory about that.”
“Of course you do.” I ignored the comment in the interest of, um, enlightening their minds. Or maybe it was hearing myself speak. It was definitely one of those two things.
I then explained my Theory of Wishes, which I developed over years of completely unscientific observation.
You see, I noticed a distinct pattern much like the original question. There were several times I wished for something that it seemed to immediately come true. The problem was, most of the things I wished for were completely banal.
For example, one night I drove down the road and noticed a car approaching me with the headlights turned off. “I wish that guy would turn his lights on,” I said (yes, out loud). As soon as the words escaped my lips, the headlights for the other car clicked on. “Wow, I really wasted that wish,” I said out loud again. Talking out loud wouldn’t have been nearly as strange if I hadn’t been alone in my truck.
The germ of my theory formed that night. Later I found myself considering similar instances. Once when I wished a cloud would pass in front of the sun for a moment’s respite from the intense heat and a cloud appeared in the bluest sky. Or the time I wished it would just stop raining for five minutes and the shower suddenly stopped and the sun came out (for almost five minutes exactly – I timed it). Or the time I wished a particular girl would notice me and she totally did. Of course, she ridiculed me to within an inch of my life which just proved I should have been far more specific.
So here’s my theory: every now in then, completely randomly, and unbeknownst to us, we are granted our very next wish. I literally mean that whatever we next wish for will come true. It would definitely explain the incidents I shared (and at least a couple of pop star’s careers).
The problem with these serendipitous wish fulfillments is that we have no idea when we get that opportunity, so they are usually wasted on the mostly useless or the totally selfish.
And that brings the real problem to light. We spend most of our time wishing for things that don’t actually matter or are just for ourselves. Which is just another way of stating that we usually wish for the wrong things.
Imagine with me for a moment if you and I spent our time wishing things such as, I wish that child wasn’t hungry, or I wish she didn’t have to work so hard to support her family, or I wish he could find a job, or even I wish I was a better person. What if we spent our time wishing the best for others, hope for others, grace for others?
I’ll wager that if we did spend most of our time wishing for such things instead of what we usually wish for that it wouldn’t matter if my Theory of Wishes was true or not. It wouldn’t matter because we would wish it so often that we could no longer ignore it. We would see the need around us. Our eyes would be opened enough that we would force ourselves to act. We would act because wishing would never be enough, even if a few came true. We would act because we had to. We would act because we wished it to happen.
And that’s something truly worth wishing for.