Friday, 16 August 2013

I've been thinking about what it means to make wishes about the people in our lives.
If you've been through an average adolescence, you know the feeling of willing someone to ring you.  (My sympathies; I know your pain.) Sometimes, you regret having wished things quite so hard. Would our lives be much simpler if we didn't actively wish people into our lives who later turn out to be utter shits?
But perhaps we'd learn different lessons too.

Anyway I digress. The kind of wishing I refer to is the kind you first feel when you really want someone or the other to ring you. Or you want that place at College. Or that first job. You throw your soul into saying Please to the Universe. That kind of wishing dominates the life of children growing up with ill parents.
There is so little else you can really do (care-taking aside).

But I have thought this thought: We rarely know enough (about others, the world or ourselves, about what is best), to make fervent wishes that directly concern other people.

I assume that wishing works, on some level, to some degree.
And that is why I am now cautious about it.
With great power comes great responsibility.
Some very wise people have told us, over thousands of years that we have fearsome powers, that the great secret of the Universe is that it is actually amenable to our whims. That our destinies are in our control.
I buy that, to a point.

And so I wonder: Can you do more harm than good by wishing for say, other's health or longevity or presence or good fortune?
When a wish stems from anything but Absolute Unselfish Love (and who of us can summon this at will?), when it is founded in personal fears and ego attachments, is it wise to wish?

In the last days of my Father's life, I found myself unable to wish, as I had before, for his recovery. I hoped for it, of course. But I couldn't bring myself to will it. I kind of felt that he willed differently. It was difficult to accept, and the effort of doing so has cost me an amount of energy I didn't know I could expend and still keep breathing.

I thought, during those days, of the amount of prayer and sheer willing that went into the years of his illness. My Mother, my sister and I. Friends and family. Nurses and doctors who knew him. The nuns who visited him so often. Priests we hired to perform special prayers. Candles at this grotto, offerings at that temple.
Did we do it because we were terrified of losing him, or out of love? Did we do it for him, or for us?

At the end of his life, he was a shadow of the man he used to be. Nothing was pleasurable any more. There was still something of him 'there', but it was nothing compared to how it was. All we could really do was sit together and hold hands. In fact, that's all he wanted. And for the last weeks, he wasn't even conscious. There were no spoken goodbyes between my Mother and him. None for my sister or me either.
One minute he was conscious, about to be discharged from hospital. The next, he was in cardiac arrest, and he never woke up.
What did we gain from wishing so fervently for so long that he would survive one illness after the other, so that he went out slowly rather than fast?

Wondering all this, I realise, is academic. Should another loved one be diagnosed with an illness, I know I will be on my knees in front of the little 'shrine' I have at home, begging and praying. Saying please, making deals, giving reasons why recovery is a good idea (as though it were a grant proposal!)
(God forbid!)
It couldn't have been different, I realize.  And who am I to tamper with the delicate physics of it all or even wonder about it?!
But I do wonder it all the same.

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