As a kid, I was crazy about wishing. When dusk fell, I pressed my nose to the window to see the first star and recited this little ditty in my head: “Star-light, star-bright, first star I see tonight, wish I may, wish I might, that the wish I wish tonight, does come true”. I can still picture (what may well have been a planet) the twinkling glow blurred through the crosshatch of the grimy screen of my Bronx apartment window. I have no memory of what I was wishing for. Some toy? After all, we had the essentials in my family.
Then I discovered eyelashes. My eyelashes. Whenever my mother fished an eyelash out of my eye she’d offer it, balanced on her fingertip, and say, “Make a wish!” Who knew that I fluttered such a wealth of wishes every time I blinked? There was no stopping me now! Oh, I still sent my desires out to the stars, but also added lashes. I pulled away at my lids, then lined them up on my pillowcase, wishing on them one by one. Again, I cannot remember what it was I was after? And did I wish the same thing on every lash? Or assign a special wish to individual lashes?
What I do remember is the look of horror on my mother’s face as she put me to bed one night. “What happened to your eyelashes?” I started crying, probably in embarrassment. I don’t think I told her what I was up to. Even at the age of 5 or 6, I suspect I sensed that this wishing business was all nonsense.
Or was it? What got me on this tangent today was an Advanced Reader Copy of (ARC in the biz) I received the other day: One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life by Mitch Horowitz. I can’t give you my 2 cents about this book since I’ve yet to read it, but the jist of it is the author’s personal and intellectual exploration about whether the power of positive thinking works. And his first chapter is titled: “To Wish Upon a Star” reminding me that my nightly date with a star was as much a part of my bedtime ritual as any Our Father or Hail Mary. Is there a connection between this wishing business and positive thinking? Perhaps. Hope?
In a way, I still send my wishes out there. Every every time I spend a few bucks on a lottery ticket or email off another query to a literary agent, and if that “wish” comes true – which it sometimes does – my manuscript, I do so with a wish worthy of a star or an eyelash. Even though I only rake in rejections, and toss out the lottery tickets, I keep at it. Similarly, every spring I plant the garden thinking this year the fence will keep that bastard groundhog out.
I appreciate the power I have as an adult to make many things happen rather than wait for some abstract magic and power from space. And while I’m still not above the occasional wish, the truth is – I already have so much – and now, I get that. My beautiful daughter is healthy and happy. Ditto on my good man and sweet dog. I have a great, book-filled job and darling house with a good roof surrounded by neighbors who are friends that I love. What more could I wish for? Besides, I want my eyelashes to grow back.