My mother used to say to me, frequently, "Don't wish your life away." This was frequently in response to my desire to grow up, to leave home, to go to college and get out of the small town in which I grew up. I wish I were 16, so I could drive. I wish I were 18 so I could go to college. I wish I were doing something with my life that I would find meaningful. She admonished me to enjoy the life I had instead of wishing for a life in the future.
This is true. It is sometimes hard to enjoy the life one has, to find meaning in the here and now instead of always looking for something else. "Bloom where you are planted!" proclaim (in curlicue lettering) many cute posters featuring smiling-faced flowers.
But it is also true that wishing can be the dreaming, imagining, thinking about where one wants to go and who one wants to be that is not a negation of the now but an exercise in wondering and hoping. Wishing can be the expression of how we would like for the world to be - kind, generous, just - in the face of how we often find the world - petty, cruel, filled with violence. I wish my kids didn't have to go through the hurts life hands out. I wish we would all stop yelling at one another both in the house and on TV. I wish, I wish, I wish.
And wishing can keep hope alive. Wishing is sometimes naming hope, naming what is right and good and just and acknowledging that even though we all fall short, we know it could be better. Wishing for a better world can enable us to keep working for a better world. Keeping the desire for generosity, justice, kindness in the conversation is a good and sometimes inspiring thing.
Wishing is also sometimes naming love - I wish my children did not have to experience hurt, I wish I didn't have to be hurt myself, even though I know the lessons we all learn are common to us all. We all get hurt, we all learn the hard way, and coddling ourselves and our loved ones stunts our growth. But we can still wish it didn't have to be that way and let ourselves and our loved ones know that we know what it feels like to hurt.
And so I do not want to wish my life away, but I do want to wish for hope and wish for love and wish for justice and wish for peace.