Welcome back to another What if Wednesday!
Let’s talk about wishes!
We’ve all heard the childhood tales about getting to make a wish (or three). Remember King Midas and his wish for everything he touched to turn to gold? And of course who could forget Aladdin, where he wishes that the genie make him a prince?
Have you ever thought about what you would wish for?
Here’s the setup:
- You have been granted one wish.
- You don’t have to use your wish if you don’t want to…but bear in mind that there are consequences either way.
- If you use your wish:
- It must be used within the next five minutes.
- You will instantly age by 20 years. In other words, if you use your wish, you will immediately be 20 years older than your current age.
- If you do NOT use your wish within five minutes:
- You will stay your current age…however, the loved one closest to you will instantly age by 20 years.
- You may not wish for more wishes.
- You may not wish for more time to decide. Five minutes is all you get.
- You may not change or remove any of these caveats or consequences.
It seems that this scenario implicitly supposes that every alternative comes at a price. Having a wish – even with these parameters – is quite an immense opportunity. But the cost of using the wish is essentially the loss of 20 years of life. Either years lost from my own life or lost from the life of my closest loved one (Joel).
In thinking it through, I think it would make most sense for me to use the wish. At least then the wish could be used for something good. Sure, I could refuse to use it, but then not only would Joel lose 20 years of time, we also wouldn’t have anything to “show” for paying that price. Meaning he would suffer the cost for nothing.
So it’s decided then. I would use the wish.
Yes, this means I would instantly be in my 50’s.
You know what, it would make me incredibly sad to miss out on the opportunity to experience the rest of my 30’s or any of my 40’s. There is much I want to do in those years…like have babies, watch them grow into amazing adults, and hit some key career milestones.
It’s true, instantly being 20 years older means a loss of those 20 years… but you know something? It doesn’t mean I couldn’t still strive for my goals, right? For example, assuming menopause was an issue, we could build a family through surrogacy or adoption. And I’d still have plenty of years with which to work towards career goals.
So the next question becomes: what on earth would I wish for?
One way around the “20 years lossed” caveat is to wish for immortality. I would essentially be trading 20 years for an infinite number of years. But is this really what I would want? Do I want to live forever? Truthfully, I don’t think so. I imagine that forever would be quite lonely as you’d continuously outlive everyone and everything else in the world.
So… if not immortality, what would I wish for?
When I was a kid, I used to think that if I had a wish, I would wish for a million dollars. To a child, this seems like an unfathomably huge amount of money. But anyone with student loans, medical bills, a mortgage, a car note, credit card, monthly bills, and/or any combination thereof can tell you that one million dollars wouldn’t go quite as far as my childhood self naively thought.
What about a billion dollars? A trillion?
I think ultimately I’d have to wonder what would be the true cost of those 20 years I had to give up in order to have the wish. I don’t think I’d be able to put a number on that. Plus, even if I were to wish for a gazillion dollars, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that money does NOT in fact guarantee happiness, and may actually lead to boredom and dissatisfaction.
There are other meaningful ways to use something as precious as a wish. So as nice as it would be to pocket that million (or billion), I can honestly tell you that I probably would not use my wish to acquire personal wealth.
What could be more impactful than a billion dollars? Hmm.
Perhaps I could change some past event to improve how history played out. There are no caveats around changing historical events. Perhaps there is a pivotal event that, if prevented, would alter the course of history. The book “11/22/63” by Stephen King is based on the premise that the John F. Kennedy assassination is one such pivotal event. Perhaps I could use my wish to prevent Martin Luther King Jr from being assassinated, or to prevent Hitler from being born.
Or maybe I could use my wish to correct some systemic wrong in the world. For example, I could wish to remove all traces of prejudice. There are no caveats related to this kind of global wish, so I assume this would be fair game. What would it be like to live in a world with no racism, sexism, classism, ageism, or any other type of discrimination? Friends, with my wish, we could find out. I wonder what it would be like if we lived in a world where the only trace of discrimination was in the history books.
Another option would be to use my wish to bestow everyone in the world with a strong sense of compassionate generosity. Perhaps this would be the best way to use my wish. I would gladly give up those 20 years if it meant that every single person on the earth (and everyone yet to be born) would live with a healthy combination of sincere compassion and true generosity.
If we were all truly generous, maybe there would be more charitable giving, more helping each other, less poverty, less hunger, less human suffering…. If we all were more compassionate, maybe we would be slower to judge each other, slower to jump to conclusions, more willing to give benefit of doubt, more accepting of each others’ differences and flaws. Maybe. Just maybe.
Check out my other “what if” posts!
- What if you time-traveled 100+ years into the future or the past?
- What if you found out that you got completely erased?
- What if everyone had the same salary?
Would you make your wish? If so, what would you wish for?