woman looking up the sky and praying webWishes are spirits of outcomes that may or may not be possible. As we saw in the previous installment, “Regrets,” no amount of wishing can change the past. This does not stop us from wishing today could be different or tomorrow will be more satisfying. When I was a child, when cell phones is what Ma Bell did and iMac was a Scottish greeting, I was innocent and naïve — I believed in wishing wells and making wishes when blowing out the candles on the birthday cake.

As I grew up, I lost that childlike faith, along with a lot of pennies and the strength to blow out all those candles. I no longer believed, “When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires will come to you.” However, that didn’t keep me from wishing at times that I were taller or shorter, or had straight hair or curly hair (or more hair), or were here or there. We resort to wishes when situations and people are not satisfactory to us. When it’s too hot, we wish it were cooler. When it’s too cold, we wish it were warmer.

A “wish” is not the same as a “hope.” A wish is merely a desire or yearning for something else; hope is a feeling that something desired may or will happen. Hope is a mature wish, a dim vision of the future you wished for, perhaps based on the slimmest of evidence. You can wish you will win the lottery, but you can only hope to if you purchase a ticket. When it comes to leaving a legacy, good parents and grandparents hope for the best for their families. The childless couple may say, “We wish we had children.” Without children, there is no point in hoping they will turn out right. There is no substance to the wish, just a wistful feeling. However, hope carries with it a more positive outlook, a possibility the wish will come true. Hope involves decisions. You can wish your children would find better friends, but unless they are put in a position where they can choose better friends, there is no hope.

Hope and wish are often tied to regret. When the outcomes of our actions and decisions don’t turn out as we’d like, we can wish we hadn’t made those decisions or taken those actions. Too late — (which harkens back to our previous article about not doing things we’ll regret later, especially if they damage our legacy). We can hope our children and grandchildren don’t follow the pattern we learned to regret, and provide them with the opportunities to do better, and even learn from our regrets.

How often I’d heard my mother say, “I wish you wouldn’t do that!” Well, what did she want me to do? Without showing me an alternative or providing an explanation, there was little hope I would — or have motive to — stop.

A wish is a longing for something we think is better or will be more satisfying. “I wish I had more money.” “I wish I could play the bassoon.” “I wish my grandkids would stay out of trouble.” “I wish I had finished my Art History degree.” Well, if these are wishes that can bring about a better reality and don’t have foreseeable bad consequences, why not turn them into hopes (and goals — our next installment)? The ability to get up off the couch of wishes and walk the treadmill of hopes and goals is a wonderful legacy to pass down to the next generations!

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