Latest 3 Things

Monday, December 20, 2010

3 Wishes

I can hardly believe that I made it through a whole year of THREE THINGS without a mention of that most storied and proverbial of threes: the three wishes. Who amongst us hasn’t planned out what three things we might wish for if given this mythical opportunity? Long before Aladdin was the animated classic that it is, I dreamed plenty of afternoons away thinking on just that very subject. As a kid I was wishing for riches, fame and a ton of new toys, as an adolescent I was trying to figure out ways to game the system (wishing for more wishes, etc.), as a teenager I was wishing for love and as a young adult, I was right back to wishing for riches, fame and a ton of new toys. As time goes by it’s not that my “old” wishes don’t apply anymore, it’s just that there are other, more important, wishes in front of it. After all, coming up with three wishes isn’t about making an exhaustive list, it’s about priorities - because, you only get three, and you’d better make them count. And so, as a tribute to the wishers we once were, the ones we are, and the ones we will be, here are my 3 wishes:

1. Smart Money. I wish intelligence traded as well as beauty, fame, and musical talent. I wish there was a way to convince kids, hell - to convince everyone, that intelligence is not an immutable trait; that education is the great equalizer - not social networking, the internet or anything having to do with government. Of all the opportunities given to us, the opportunity to make ourselves smarter is the most liberating, the most empowering and the most unequivocated. You may have to resign yourself to being short, ugly or even not very funny - but you’re only as dumb as you want to be. Ignorance is a choice - which is why I get to make fun of you for it without even the slightest bit of guilt. What is truly disheartening is that ignorance has now gotten its own cache - and we celebrate it with pop culture icons (the Jersey Shore cast, Paris Hilton & Ms. Teen South Carolina), a growing political party (thank you, Sarah Palin) and the notion that it is somehow socially equivalent to an actual education by calling it common sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing for the world to be brilliant - there wouldn’t be anything awesome in world where “small talk” was about particle physics, computer programming and organic chemistry; but a world gone dumb is even more insufferable, and a whole lot more frightening.

2. Other People’s Kids. I wish bad parenting was as open to public commentary as bad pet ownership, bad driving and bad manners. I mean, no one is going to let someone’s dog run around without a leash, bark at strangers, or jump up on things without at least saying something - but we’ll sit back and watch someone’s child behave exactly the same way with not so much as a peep. I know I personally don’t let bad drivers off without finding some way to make sure they understand just what I think of their driving ability - sometimes with something as simple as sign language. And though it’s not as commonly corrected as it once was, I’ve at least never seen anyone try and defend the demonstration of poor manners as some sort of universal right. And yet, parenting remains inviolate - and we have decided, as a group, that the right to raise your children poorly, inattentively, or with utter disregard for its consequences has been secretly added to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I wish that being childless didn’t eviscerate the value of my opinion on parenting - as though there were some sort of special knowledge or judgment imparted by achieving that most basic of biological processes. I wish we didn’t treat every child, no matter their age, or the utter hopelessness of their success, as though they may be a genius, world leader, professional artist or other extraordinary person on the making. I may not be able to walk into a room full of teenagers and tell you which of them will be successful, but I can surely point out the ones that won’t. Like it or not, there are bad parents and bad kids, and more of them than the good kind - I just wish we could admit that so we might actually start to do something about it.

3. Blast to the Past. I wish I could go back and talk to myself at 16 for just five minutes. After all, what’s a list of wishes without one that’s completely preposterous, requires a little bit of magic, and is just a bit selfish? I don’t need long, but there are so many tragedies, missteps and mistakes that I might save myself with just a few bits of advice. I’d tell myself first that it’s all going to work out just fine - no matter how bleak it looks in high school. I’d let him know it’s ok to dance, in fact, that’s going to be the one thing that really saves us. I’d tell him to avoid that backflip, drink a little less in Hawaii and that the sinus surgery really wasn’t that good of an idea after all. I’d tell him to love a little more and work a little less; that his world is going to get a lot bigger than little Lafayette, Colorado, and not to worry, he’ll make good on every bit of talent he was given and every promise he’s made to himself. I’d tell him that, as impossible as it may seem, he’ll end up loving his little sister more than he could possibly imagine. I’d let him know that he will touch and change lives, everywhere he goes. I’d tell him to go ahead and get in that fight - bruises heal. I’d let him take a look at me so he knows that he won’t be 4’11” forever, he’ll get his teeth straightened, finally figure what to do with that hair, and get big and strong enough to hold a girl over his head on one hand. But most of all, I’d let him know that even with all the amazing, challenging and impossible things that will happen, the next twenty years will fly right by - so be sure not to miss too much of it worrying if things are going to turn out alright. Because they do.

* * *

I was once told that, if wishes were like fishes, we’d all have a fry. At the time it didn’t make a whole lot of sense, seemed like the kind of mindless tautological advice offered up by people when they don’t really have anything to say, and gave me a strong craving for fish and chips. But after sitting down to come up with three wishes of my own - it was a reminder that wishes are something that we all have in common. Each of us has seemingly impossible things that we want, for ourselves, for our loved ones and for the world around us. And despite our differences, many of us wish for the very same things. But for some, they are things we work on every day, while for others, they remain secret desires that seldom, if ever, see the light of day. So while we all have wishes, it is perhaps, not what our wishes are that make us different, but rather what our wishes are to us.

May all your wishes come true. Merry Christmas, everyone.


Anonymous said...

: ) Probably my favorite so far.


Your gf

CRAZY MOM of 4 said...

Your little sister loves you too!!!

Anonymous said...

My three wishes would be:

1. To be able to travel back in time much like yourself.

2. For human beings to always do what is right instead of what is popular or what will make individuals more money.

3. To have all of Superman's Powers so that I could do whatever I want, much negating my need for the other two wishes I guess.

Loved this one!


Kerry said...

Merry Christmas Glenn! As always great read... What I wouldn't give to go back & tell myself not too worry- it will be alright!

Denise said...

Yes, yes, and yes. (And I *wish* you would use a serial comma, lol).

Love that the cupie is a significant accomplishment worthy of conveying during your time travel.

Love that, while certainly not rant-free, this is notably more positive and less angry than so many of your amusing columns.

Merry Christmas, G!

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