On Wishing, Peace, and Those Words

I am sitting here in the lodge at Esalen and my eyes are so tired that this screen is a blur. Tonight is my last night here.

At dinner a friend came over to the table and handed me a small necklace. “MAKE A WISH,” the small card said, “and put on your necklace. The positive energy and love you give to the world is what the world will give back to you. When your necklace wears off, your wish is ready to come true.” The pendant is a small golden lotus flower, as delicate as wire, and the necklace is a small strand of lavender silk, nothing more than a thread.

I cried a little when the gift was offered to me, because it was just what I needed, a friend who believes in wishing.

The only thing that seems fair to wish for is peace.  However, I find that when I wish for peace I am immediately met with the weight of reality – the knowledge of wars far away and small arguments nearby, the strife that has written the world as we know it.

I still wish for peace, because I don’t know what else I might wish for.

The other day someone spoke about the need for collective liberation, saying “I won’t be free until we are all free.” I thought about the hugeness of that and found that I felt the same way.

I don’t wish peace only for myself. I wish peace for everyone.

The thing about wishing is that, in order for a wish to come true, you have to really believe that the wish will come true.

It’s hard to believe in peace, in a world that feels so torn by fighting. “It’s not possible,” I find myself thinking, “we’re doomed. We will never get out of this.”

It hurts to see those words on the page. Those words are the death of the world.

How did those words find their way into my head?

It is what I’ve been told my whole life, ever since I learned how big and troubled the world is. Those words were offered as a consolation to my young grief. “That;s just how it is. It’s terrible, but that’s just how it is.”

Those are dangerous words. Those are hopeless words.

I don’t believe those words.  Of course peace is possible. Anything is possible.

I am, after all, here.

Yesterday, I sat on the broad lawn and I settled into the grass, took a deep breath and looked up. The clouds were thin strands, wisps. I let myself sing a little, a small repeating pattern, low. “Dah, dah, dahhhh, dah…dah, dah, dah…dah, dah, dahhhh, dah…dah, dah, dah…”

I couldn’t help appreciating that, two years ago, I was watching clouds alone. I felt unashamed as I sat on the grass here, watching the forms take shape.  I found myself knowing that the key is to wish good for the world, not only for oneself.

A honeybee was walking through the grass and noticing it was a gift. A few minutes later, a friend offered up this poem as we cried together, holding the loved ones we had lost and the words we wished we had said.  I recognized it immediately, remembering that my mother had shown it to me a few years ago. “Isn’t it funny,” I thought, “that perhaps she offered me the poem then so that I could remember it now?”

Last Night As I Was Sleeping by Antonio Machado

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.