The penny flew from his hand and he scrunched his big brown eyes tight. Small lips mouthed words I couldn’t hear; secrets that filled his mind. I envied his concentration, but more than that, I envied his belief. We went to the mall to throw pennies in the fountain. When we talked in the car I asked him what he’d wished for last week. “To be the richest man in the world,” he said. “It didn’t come true.” I told him it was still possible and he shook his head and nodded, “Yeah, that’s true.”
Sitting by the side of the fountain, I gave him five pennies and waited patiently for his wishes to form. With each passing moment, I reminded myself that there was no more than now, nowhere else to be, nothing more important to be doing. What could be more valuable than wishing? I held two pennies in my own hand. I thought of how often I’d hastily thrown pennies in the fountain since growing up.
As a child I was like him. I believed. I wished. Somewhere along the journey, the pennies became symbols of dreams that just didn’t come true. Along the path, wishes changed from thoughts on which to concentrate as I pulled them from the depths of my soul, to bland, general desires. I wished to win the lottery. I wished to fall in love. I stared in horror at the splashes that followed my two pennies into the water.
I wasted my wishes again. I watched a beautiful seven year-old boy show me exactly what wishing should look like. I formulated the thought in my head that my present moment was precious and magical. And yet, habit took over and the pennies launched by routine, thoughtless requests hitchhiking a ride. I guess it took more than realization to change something engrained in my actions for so long.
Like most adults, I like to think I live in reality. I like to think that I’m logical and smart enough to know that there are some things I won’t accomplish or get in my life and that’s OK. Today at the fountain I caught a glimpse of the wisher inside of me. For a fleeting moment, before I thought about what a realistic wish would be, I wondered what I would ask for if I had five wishes I KNEW would come true. After all, that’s exactly what Ben had. In his perfect, trusting mind he took his time because his wishes were reality. He only had five so he had to make them good. In my cynical aged brain, I could have wished from here to eternity with no guaranteed results.
Except…except for the fact that one of my wishes came true. I didn’t (sorry to say) win the lottery, and I didn’t fall in love, but before my conscious mind called out for love and money, my subconscious called out to be more like Ben. I wanted to know what my real wishes would be. Eight hours later as he laid in his bed, probably dreaming of those wishes he held so dear, I sat in the hallway, laptop in hand, and searched. My eyes weren’t tightly closed and my lips weren’t moving, but the wish came true anyway as my fingers flew across the keypad. I wished to write.