If wishes were horses then beggars would ride,
If turnips were swords I’d have one by my side.
If ‘ifs’ and hands were pots and pans
There would be no need for tinkers hands!
Now I wish I’d written that. But of course I never would (even if I could) because I tend to put things off. What that nursery rhyme tells me is that human nature hasn’t changed much since the 16th Century. I can’t decide whether to find that alarming or reassuring but I’m forced to accept that as long as I sit on my duff wishing I could write fabulous prose, I won’t actually be writing any prose at all.
There are times you can wish for something without actually having any control over the result. Every week when I buy a lottery ticket I wish I could win. In my imagination I’ve already divided up the spoils: so much for my children, so much for my siblings and my mother and the rest for my partner and myself. Mortgages paid off, voyages taken, worries erased and everyone happy. That’s a nice dream to have on a Saturday night before the results come in. Whatever the fantasy, everyone needs some hope, and as fantasies go, it’s a harmless one.
I wish I could go back in time and right some wrongs, knowing what I know now. That’s why I like the ‘Back to the Future’ series. I’ve read my science fiction and with very few exceptions have found that it is not wise to change your personal time line, the consequences to you and to the world in general can be disastrous. Doc Brown and many of the best science fiction writers have said that so. That’s why if anyone knocks at my door and offers me a time machine, I would hesitate a bit before accepting. In Back to the Future, Marty McFly and Doctor Brown manage to improve their personal lives without terrible consequences to them or to others. Here’s the spoiler for the handful of people who have not watched those movies. There is an exception: a person has been humiliated in making these movies but it’s okay because he is Biff Tannin, Marty McFly’s nemesis. In all the movies Tannin eats dirt (manure) which makes victims of bullies around the world live vicariously through those scenes and shout, ‘yes!! And Doc Brown changes his personal history when he finds himself a girl. Clara was saved from a sure death, there’s a canyon named after her, so her time line has been changed for the better and Doc Brown is the winner. I wish Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale could (re)write my life for me.
I wish I could stop smoking. Oh, wait, I did. It only took three decades, lots of backsliding and a couple of agonizing years to get the nasty chemicals out of my system. Now I wish I could lose weight. I know that all I need to do is to zip my lip and go for long walks. And every night I say I will do it and every morning I put it off. I wish I was stronger than the hamburger with fries on the side. I wish.
I wish – it’s no use pretending indifference – I wish that the powers that are would Freshly Press me. They are constantly posting articles telling me how it can be done and I read them all. I just wish I could stop wishing and take their advice. Maybe I should make that my New Year’s resolution. I wish that I didn’t have to wait.