And now, please welcome Noelle Oxenhandler:
At a major turning-point in my life, I decided to launch a year’s experiment in making three wishes come true: the wish for a house, the wish for a new love, and the wish for spiritual healing. A skeptic by nature, I did not find the process easy. But I persisted--and in doing so, I learned so much! As, one by one, my wishes really did come true, I had to acknowledge that there is indeed a very real power in wishing. And sometimes this power is scary….
When we make a wish, we open ourselves to the unknown. This is why many people are afraid to wish: they’d rather stay with the safe predictability of the known, however confining, than take the risk of actively wishing for something new. They’d rather complain about things as they are than usher in a different reality. A committed act of wishing always brings about a change—and that’s unsettling. But it’s also exciting and it is truly creative. Something always happens when we actually dare to articulate a wish and set about working to make it come true. That “something” may turn out to be different from what we imagined--but it always brings some form of valuable information with it, information that might not have come to us in any other way. For instance, one woman I know had been convinced for years that she had made a mistake in becoming a lawyer because she was truly meant to be an artist. When at last she dared to articulate her wish, she gave herself a six month’s leave to enroll in art school. And then she discovered that--lo and behold--she really couldn’t stand the chaos and uncertainty of the artist’s life! Though she was disappointed, she was also liberated from years of clinging to an unrealistic dream. As a wise young friend of mine said, “We don’t always get exactly, literally, the thing we wished for. But then we learn to wish better.” And as the great German poet Goethe wrote, “Destiny grants our wishes—but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.” If we didn’t find the courage to launch a wish in the first place, how could we discover this beyond--?
NOELLE OXENHANDLER is the author of three non-fiction books: The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My Soul; The Eros of Parenthood; and A Grief Out of Season. Her essays have appeared in many national and literary magazines, including: The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, VOGUE, “O” The Oprah Magazine, and TRICYCLE. She lives in northern California, where she teaches Creative Writing at Sonoma State University. She can be reached at NoelleOxenhandler.com