Note: It’s not my birthday, and this post is a few years old, but I was poking around in the archives, found this one and thought, yes, this feels like a time to share these thoughts again…
So, dear readers, I just hit the big 5-0 a few days ago. I’ve been on the planet for half a century. Time flies. It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago when I was a bright-eyed college student, eager to make my mark on the world. But as most of us well-seasoned folk know, life intervenes, things change, priorities rearrange, and many dreams and ambitions get relegated to dusty boxes in unused closets with creaky, unoiled doors.
Despite the unexpected baggage, much of what you were is still what you are. Some things do shift, perceptions alter, and the rigidity of convictions can soften. (At least for the decent people, I should say. The whack jobs just get crazier.) In contemplating all of this, I thought it would be interesting to capture 50 random thoughts, one for each year that I have trod the boards on this stage we call Life. I wanted to compare the fresh innocence with the road-tested reality.
The result was an interesting mix. Despite my attempts to be serious, there were intrusions of humor. (I can’t hold that beast down; it’s part of me.) Despite my attempts to be forgiving and inclusive, I had some bitter moments. (Some people are just stupid and mean; there’s no way around it.) And there are a few current flashpoints that I never would have considered, back in that college dorm. But in the end, I was somewhat surprised, but mostly pleased, to find that most of what I would have written 30 years ago is what I am still writing today.
50 wishes on my 50th birthday.
1. I wish that restaurants gave you the right amount of salad dressing the first time so you didn’t have to ask for more.
2. I wish I had learned how to say “no” a long time ago.
3. I wish more people would follow through when they say “we should do this more often”.
4. I wish everything could come with a side of bacon. Even a visit to the doctor. (“Um, could you hold my bacon while I step on the scales? Thanks.”)
5. I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life proving myself to others instead of to myself.
6. I wish that I could always remember why I walked into a room.
7. I wish I had the time to read an entire book every day. And that people who don’t read books could somehow instinctively understand that they should leave me alone.
8. I wish that hard-hearted people could empathize with the circumstances of others instead of building walls and pointing fingers.
9. I wish that I had spent more time doing instead of considering.
10. I wish that a mental workout helped you lose as many pounds as a physical workout. Of course, there are a lot of people who have never done the first, so they’ll still have to depend on the second.
11. I wish that I could master the art of creating a mean batch of sausage gravy. I apparently lack the appropriate chromosome to make this a reality.
12. I wish there was a law that prevented people who didn’t vote from bitching about the election results. You stayed at home? Well, stay there, and keep your mouth shut.
13. I wish for the day when the races are so mixed that the bigots no longer have definable targets for their skin-based hatred.
14. I wish we could get away from this “you get a medal just for showing up at the competition!” mindset. You have to lose sometimes to appreciate winning.
15. I wish that the snooze button on the alarm actually stopped time.
16. I wish food was always on the table for everyone.
17. I wish my drifting-off-to-sleep thoughts were automatically recorded to my laptop. I have the best nocturnal story ideas, which naturally dissolve by morning…
18. I wish I could spend a year in Italy. Preferably with George Clooney.
19. I wish I had learned years ago that your career does not define you.
20. I wish I had said “thank you” more often.
21. I wish that no child should ever have to wonder if they are worthy.
22. I wish that the TV Networks would go back to letting a series develop over time instead of cancelling a show three minutes after it premieres.
23. I wish that our nation can somehow quash the devastating effect of the Citizens United ruling that killed any pretense of a fair election process.
24. I wish that you could slap stupid people in public and receive a medal of honor instead of a court summons.
25. I wish for world peace, even though I realize that such a thing contradicts with the business models of many major corporations.
26. I wish that everyone has the chance to sit on a sandy beach and watch the waves roll in, with nowhere to be and no emails to answer.
27. I wish certain people understood that religion is an option in this country, not a mandate. If that annoys you, perhaps you should make plans to move. Good luck with that.
28. I wish that no one be ridiculed for their love of guacamole. We all have secret passions, and we have all eaten messy things.
29. I wish that right-wingers would actually read the Constitution and the Bible, because it’s clear that they have only flipped through the Cliff Notes version, if even that.
30. I wish the Tea Party members realized that ignorance is not a virtue. But I understand that you generally lose them when complete sentences are involved.
31. I wish more people understood that a civilized society requires respect, tolerance, compassion and benevolence. Otherwise, you might as well move back to the caves and bang on a rock.
32. I wish that people really would break into spontaneous song and dance for no apparent reason, on random street corners, just like in a movie musical. Why would you not want to live in a world like that?
33. I wish that the music industry would go back to hiring talent and not marketing concepts. And that Auto-Tune thing? Throw it in the trash.
34. I wish that the traditional publishing industry would embrace the fact that digital books are here to stay. Stop fighting it and support the authors. Our words are just as worthy on paper or in the cloud.
35. I wish that people would choose life partners based on possibility and not probability.
36. I wish that fried pickles were more respected in our society. I’m tired of the horrified looks of my dinner companions when I order.
37. I wish that I could be one of those people who never have regrets.
38. I wish that more movies were made where nothing explodes, no one dies, special effects are not required, and the characters are allowed to figure out the right thing to do and then they do it.
39. I wish the fashion industry could be based on realism and not anorexia. We are teaching our children the wrong things.
40. I wish for the day when everyone takes responsibility for their own mistakes. This will be a stunning and unfathomable concept to many.
41. I wish for the celebration of where you are going, not the stigmatization of where you have been.
42. I wish that I really could teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.
43. I wish my relatives who are racist could understand how much it turns my stomach when that filth comes out of their mouths. I love you, but sometimes I just want to walk out the door.
44. I wish that people who have never been in a particular situation were not allowed to pass judgment on people who are actually in the situation.
45. I wish that anyone who ever posts anything on the internet was required to use their real name. It’s easy to throw a brick of lies when you’re hiding behind a mask.
46. I wish that the innocent wisdom of children could trump the malignant bitterness of old men.
47. I wish for free ice cream for everyone. And affordable access to quality healthcare. There’s no valid reason why we can’t have both.
48. I wish everyone had the courage to take a deep breath and leap off the Cliff of Possible Opportunity. You may or may not succeed, but you won’t know unless you try.
49. I wish we could all be judged by our intentions and not the end result.
50. I wish that I didn’t have to make wishes that people would just be decent and kind.
Originally published in “Bonnywood Manor” on 02/06/15. (I have a vague sense that I may have posted this on another occasion, but I can’t find any notes about such, so mea culpa if I’ve lost my mind and I just shared this recently, somewhere.) No changes made other than adding the Note at the beginning.
Story behind the photo: Cancun, April 2014, sunrise, me, coffee. I sat there for hours until the rest of the hotel guests stirred…