To wish or not to wish… and what in the world to wish for?

Hi friends!

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?

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Here’s the setup:

  1. You have been granted one wish.
  2. You don’t have to use your wish if you don’t want to…but bear in mind that there are consequences either way.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Rules:
    • 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.

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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.

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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!

Would you make your wish? If so, what would you wish for? 

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You do not exist. Now what?

 

Hi friends!

Welcome back to another What if Wednesday!

I may have mentioned previously that I started a book club. Our most recent book inspired some lively discussion on the overlapping topics of money and vulnerability. Side note: 20 points to anyone who correctly guesses the book (also a show!) that inspired this week’s post! :)

None of us want to think that our money could be vulnerable to attack or theft. We all take great pains to protect what we have. And we take every opportunity to add bulk to the coffers whenever we can.

Additionally, we all place a whole lot of faith in the virtual systems that gird our society. Everything from banking to medical records, social security, and social media is largely online. Sure, there are backups in case the power goes out, or the system goes down temporarily. But even the backups and failsafes are not always 100% immune to attack or damage.

So here is the question: What if you checked your bank account right this minute and found a $0 balance? Unless you really are broke, you’d assume it was a mistake. What if you tried to log into your social media to #tweetaboutit but suddenly none of your apps recognized your username? …What if every online imprint of you was somehow simply gone?

The setup:

  1. You have just discovered that all your money is gone.Everything in the bank… everything you invested in stocks, bonds, CD’s, Roth IRAs, 401Ks, etc,… vanished. Into thin air.
  2. Your keycard does not allow you access to your work building. You call IT and HR, but there is no record of you having ever worked there.
  3. The electricity, internet, and water to your house is shut off because the companies have no record of you.
  4. Your cellphone stops working…the carrier has no record of you.
  5. You ask your tech-savvy friend for help. After doing some intensive digging, he says he can find ZERO trace of you ANYWHERE.
  6. You have been wiped from every database. Your social security, credit score, government records, taxes… even your social media accounts have been deleted.
  7. You do not exist.
  8. Now what?

Every time I read a book or watch a movie with a similar “you’ve been wiped” premise, it always gives me pause. Could something like this really happen?

 

 

First, can we give props to the tech-savvy friend for a sec? I mean this person is in every movie. You know the one character that tends to be surrounded by computer monitors, and somehow always able to do internet-magic with a keystroke. Without fail, character can hack into the most protected database in a split second. We all need a friend like this in our lives for precisely this moment.

Right. Back to the premise…

So, for the sake of this thought experiment, let’s just say that this really did happen. Let’s say that a sinister virus erased all trace of me RIGHT THIS SECOND.

My initial thought is that it would suck to lose everything. Even if I brought my birth certificate, passport, and social security card, the bank probably wouldn’t be handing over any money if they can’t corroborate that I exist. It’s more likely that they’d have me arrested for trying to steal money with forged documents. So in this scenario, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to get my money back.

It would also certainly be unsettling that there are no tax records of me, not even with the IRS! Sure I have copies of all my tax documents, but would anyone in the government believe a random chick with printouts? We all know how undocumented immigrants get treated in this country. And it’s only getting worse. No one is exactly rolling out the welcome mat. So yeah, rather than try to convince government officials that I’m actually a law-abiding citizen, I’d probably try to figure things out on my own.

Upon further thought, I have realized that there are some pretty great upsides to this… after all, erasing all my assets also means erasing all my debts, right? And hey, I wouldn’t mind saying byebye to that mortgage! Plus, if my social security number vanishes and the IRS doesn’t have record of me, that might also mean byebye taxes. One less thing to do every year.

I’d run into a pretty big kink with income though. Not having record of existence means not being able to continue working at my current job. Even if I tried to convince HR that I’m actually an employee, they would need to have my social security number, etc, which we all know has been wiped. Gah! So I might as well say goodbye to my job.

I’d probably need to find an employer that doesn’t require any documentation, and is willing to pay me in cold hard cash (I wouldn’t have a bank account, remember?). I don’t know any reputable employers that would be cool with this situation, but you never know. Or maybe I’d have to do stuff like walk dogs or mow my neighbors’ lawns. I think I could be down with this. I love dogs. And mowing could be fun…? I’d figure it out.

In thinking about this scenario, it’s funny how non-scary it suddenly becomes. Not at all like the movies, amiright? Characters in books/movies that find themselves in similar situations tend to also have something dire going on at the same time… like trying to save the world from a ticking bomb, or desperately searching for the villain who threatens humanity. I don’t have any of these earth shattering issues to resolve, so if I were to “get wiped,” I don’t think I would freak out too badly.

 

 

I mean, I would be mad that my money disappeared. But it’s not like I’ve got billions sitting in a Swiss bank account. And once I took a beat and remembered that my mortgage was gone too, I’d chill out real quick.

What about you?

Check out other posts! Like this one on time travel! Or this one about how our habits follow us! And this one on how I track my running mileage!

How would you react if you suddenly “got wiped”? Any guesses as to what book/show inspired this post? :) 

If we all had different jobs and the same salary

 

Oh hey! Welcome to another installment of “What if Wednesday!” Let’s let our imaginations run wild….

Imagine that everyone made the same amount and switched jobs every 3 years!

The rules are:

  1. You cannot opt out.
  2. Everyone between ages 15-65 who is able to work, must do so.
  3. Work assignments last 3 years, and not a day longer.
  4. At the end of a 3 year assignment, each person is re-assigned to a completely new position.
  5. You have no choice in what your next assignment will be.
  6. Reassignments must be completely different from your current position. For example, if you are a bus driver, your next job cannot be driving-related. If you work in an office, your next job cannot be in an office.
  7. You will not be reassigned to the same job twice.
  8. Everyone receives the exact same salary. It doesn’t matter what your job is, or your rank. You get the same salary as everyone else. This means the president earns the same amount as the bus driver.
  9. There is no option to acquire additional money in any way. No working multiple jobs or stealing/laundering money, etc. Your salary is all you get!
  10. Everyone will be able to live comfortably on their salary.

Eeeenteresting. Ok, so this is a fictional scenario, and I realize I have to suspend my disbelief. After all, this would never actually “fly” in today’s world. Especially since many professions require more than 3 years of training to become full-fledged (eg, surgery, scientists, lawyers, etc). But let’s just pretend this could actually happen, for the sake of imagination…

One of the things I find interesting about this setup is the “all salaries are equal” thing. From government officials to factory workers. Just think of it. If we all made the same amount of money, there would be no 1%. There would be no poverty. There would be no hunger. And no filthy filthy rich people. Also, there would be no need to worry about the pay gap for women or minorities. We would ALL bring home the same dollar.

If all salaries were equal, would it be a relief? If everyone is able to live comfortably, then yes, I’d imagine that many among us would be relieved. Think about how wonderful this may sound to the many who make minimum wage or less. Removing that stress of where the next meal will come from would be a God-send to many out there. Rather than focusing on mere survival, you’d be able to do things like read books, have new experiences, maybe even travel.

Doesn’t sound half bad, right?

But what about this — there would be no chance to get a raise or increase your pay in any way. If you are a CEO, you’d be making the exact same amount as the janitor. While this is great for the janitor, I’m sure the CEO might have reason for side-eye. Would people in positions of authority feel that they are not being fairly compensated? Would resentment begin to rise in the upper ranks?

No matter how hard you work, you would never get a pay-raise, unless of course everyone got the exact same pay-raise too. Would this eventually result in reduced motivation? I mean, why work hard at all? I wonder how many people would only do the bare minimum at their jobs, knowing that they will still get to take home the same paycheck.

Have you ever gotten a promotion and/or raise? Remember how rewarding and good it feels to finally get that recognition for your hard work? Would you have put in all that effort if you knew that your pay would never go up? What about if you knew that the biggest slacker was getting the same salary as you? Would you still put in the hard work?

And then there is the other part of the setup…

The part about having to switch jobs every 3 years. Hmm… let me tell you why this is intriguing to me.

One of my good friends, Gina (not her real name) was a nurse for 11 years, and recently switched careers to go into real estate. What a drastic change! Gina’s perfectly-executed career pivot got me to thinking… what would it be like to do something totally new? Maybe it would be refreshing. Maybe it would be scary.

What if it were mandatory to switch jobs/careers every so often? And not just any minor change, but a major change that involved doing something completely new…

Would this prevent things from getting “stale”? Possibly. I have worked a few jobs that were insanely mundane, weird, or gross. It didn’t take long for them to get stale lol! For example, one of my college jobs was cleaning rat cages in the biology department. This was a super icky job. After I found a decaying rat (smelled it first!!) I knew I had to #gitouttathrr. I would have jumped at a “mandated reassignment” at that point.

Would it be an disruptive to be forced to change jobs? Probably yes. Especially for people who enjoy their current jobs. Case in point, Joel has been an engineer for 12 years, and loves his work — he has never remotely entertained thoughts of doing anything else.

I wonder how many of us would find a change refreshing… versus disruptive. Maybe it would depend on what the next job assignment is.

If right now, I were reassigned to be a chef, it would be a major change from my current desk-job. But I wouldn’t hate that! I enjoy cooking, and I could learn plenty of cool new dishes and techniques in 3 years.

But say, I were to be reassigned to a construction worker, I’d be mildly terrified… I am terrible with handy tasks and would probably break more things than I built. But I’d probably catch on eventually and manage to do something productive. And hey, I’d still get paid equally no matter WHAT. And it would only be 3 years, not forever!

In any case, it’s all some good food for thought! I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions!

Oh and PS, have you checked out the last “What if Wednesday” on time travel? What about this one on coworker conflict?

What job assignments would you want? Which would you NOT want? How would you feel about everyone making the same salary? 

In a few minutes, you will time-travel 100+ years!

 

Welcome to the very first “What if Wednesday”! Let’s let our imaginations run wild….

Imagine that 10 minutes from now, you will leap into the past or future.

The rules are:

  1. You cannot opt out.
  2. You depart from the present year in exactly 10 minutes.
  3. You may choose your destination year. It must be more than 100 years prior to or following the present. For example, if you are reading this in 2017, you must EITHER go back in time to any year prior to 1917, OR go forwards in time to a year after 2117.
  4. This is a one-way trip. You will STAY in whatever year you pick for the rest of your life. Choose wisely!
  5. You may be fully dressed, and you may bring 3 easily-carried, small items with you.
  6. You cannot bring any person or animal with you.
  7. When you arrive in your destination year, you will land unscathed in the exact geographic location that you are currently in right now.

I was thinking about this last night and became fascinated.

My initial thought is: how crazy would this be? First, 10 minutes is an awfully short time to digest this news, not to mention also make major decisions, like what year to permanently go to. I would be filled with all kinds of emotions, and it would be sad to not have time to say proper goodbyes.

The task of choosing what year to end up in FOREVER is an intimidating one. Compared to the unknowns of the future, the past is less uncertain, and may seem appealing initially.

No social media distraction? Less pollution and processed foods to gunk up our bodies? A simple, quiet life?

But upon further thought, I’d realize that I wouldn’t want to go back in time. First, I am a woman of color who appreciates rights like suffrage and freedom. Second, not only am I a woman of color, but I’m also mixed race – African and Asian – which I’m guessing might ostracize me from every community, depending on the time period? (historians, feel free to chime in!). Third, I am way too accustomed to modern conveniences to willingly say goodbye to technologies like cars, electricity, and the internet.

I could go on, but the main point is that I will be going forward, not backward, in time.

The question then becomes: how far into the future would I go? Leaping 100+ years into the future invariably means traveling to a time when everyone I have ever loved, everyone I have ever known, is long dead. That would be an extremely difficult future to enter. Let’s just hope that some fringe research group will develop a way to significantly slow aging, so that when I arrive in the future, all my loved ones still will be alive and kicking! (Ok, so I know this would introduce all kinds of overpopulation issues, but let’s just deal with one thing a time – I’ve only got 10 minutes and the clock is ticking!)

So what year would I choose? I probably wouldn’t want to go too far into the future, like the year 720,639,821,335,024… I mean, if I leap this far, I might find myself on a post-human, mars-like version of earth, where only city ruins and fossils remain.

I think I’ll stick closer to the “near” future, and jump to the nearest possible year, 2118. Maybe in the next few generations, we’ll have figured out the renewable energy situation, and put an end to things like hunger, cancer, racism, poverty, etc… or I guess we’ll find out.

Now, what to take with me to 2118? Only 3 small-ish items allowed. I won’t take my phone, as I’d have to also bring my charger (a second item), and both are likely to be obsolete by 2118. Will people even use cell towers or wall-sockets for electricity in the future? Hmm. Better stick with items that don’t depend on present technology. Hmm.

What about a bag of money? Surely money will stand the test of time? But even if I had a pile the cash on hand at this moment, I’m guessing that with inflation and God knows what else, it likely wouldn’t be worth very much in a hundred years. Plus, will we still be using cash for currency by then? Who knows, maybe the future is a bitcoin society. To avoid the possibility of a worthless-old-timey-money situation, let’s leave the cash in the present.

Ok, I got it.  (1) My journal, to write down all my thoughts. (2) A pen, with which to write said thoughts. And (3) a photo album, to remember my former life by. Well, that is, if I had physical photos and not just digital versions. Since I don’t have prints and or any time to do anything about that, I would probably grab the framed photograph of Joel and me from our wedding day that is hanging in our living room. So my 3 things are: a pen, my journal, and a photograph.

And with my remaining moments in the present, I would hug Joel tightly, and tell him that will love him forever.

What about you? What year would you choose for your destination, and what 3 things would you take with you?

#whatifwednesday #whatifwed #wif