I came to a fork in the trail, so I took both paths. After a while, it seemed that the right path was more interesting, so I decided that that was the path I had taken. Boom. I had taken the right path all along, and now it was the only path I could remember.
This reminded me of my friend Tom, so I wished to see him. Boom. There he was, sitting on an oak leaf in front of me.
"How is it going 'fish breath' ?" I asked. "I'm fine, how are you 'fish face'?", he called back. "Don't you have anything better to do than to call me out of the pleasure of non-being?""Why don't you walk with me a ways?", I asked. "I would prefer to sit.", he answered. Tom flew up to sit on my shoulder, and we continued down the path.
Tom and I had met almost exactly five years ago. It had been on a fine October day, just like today. I hadn't been as happy then. In fact I had been miserable. I had gone into the woods then, to try to decide on a matter which seemed terribly important at the time. I had said to myself, "I wish I didn't have this problem", and then Tom came to clarify what I meant by that. His first words to me had been, "I think you fail to see the trivialness of this situation."
Tom had later explained that since I had made a wish, he had to come. All wishes get answered. I remember our discussion;
"It is not that not enough wishes get fulfilled. Its that too many get fulfilled. People are wishing all of the time, and all of these get granted. But so many of these cancel out that in the end only a few actually ever make a difference."
"How can wishes cancel out?""Well people can cancel out each other's wishes. Maybe you want to be in charge of everything. That would be fine, as long as only you existed, but if there are other people in the universe, then few of them would go along with that. So that's one way wishes cancel out. Everybody competes, and gets an even vote with their wishes. But the more important way that wishes affect people is that their own wishes can cancel each other out."
"How would that happen?""Suppose you wish to be a baseball star and then you become a baseball star for a while, but success spoils you and you finish life a drunken bum. Then you wish that you had never been a baseball star. Boom. You never were.
Thinking of the movie "Its a Wonderful Life", I asked, "What about people who wish they had never been born?""Ah, they never really mean it. We always ask them, grill 'em, let them in on a few trade secrets, and in the end they are still glad to have had an existence. To be a part of reality.
"You ask them?", I asked surprised."Each and every time they make the wish. I once knew a woman who said 'I wish I had never been born.' Seventeen times in one half of an hour. I got so tired of going through the same spiel again and again, convincing her that Yes it is indeed better to be than not be. Each time after I convinced her, I had to make her forget our entire conversation, and then let reality proceed at its normal course. A half an hour of real time took me about seventeen hours to get through. And we don't get paid overtime you know."
"You are saying, that right now, time is not flowing, and that I am not going to remember this conversation."With a hint of sarcasm Tom said, "He catches on quickly."
This whole theory seemed kind of absurd to me. I tried to knock holes in his argument."What about people who go their whole life wanting to do something, but never do? You know, like bowl a 300, or see the Caribbean, or something?"
"You got to understand that dreaming about something is often far better than actually getting it. I knew this mountain climber who wanted to climb Everest. He wished to climb the mountain, and so he did. And do you know what happened? He lost a foot, and when he got home he found his wife had left him. He was completely miserable. He wished so hard that he had never climbed that damn mountain that he never got within 100 miles of it. 'Just not meant to be.'""Wait, wait, wait... You're saying that he got what he wished for, but it wasn't what he wanted, so he un-wished for it."
"Yep""So he never climbed the mountain, never lost the foot, never lost the wife."
"Yep""But why didn't he just wish that he climbed the mountain without any bad things happening? That would have cleared up everything."
"Ahh, but that's Not what he wished for. He wished to climb the mountain. He figured that after that, everything would be fine. After tragedy struck, he wished he hadn't climbed the mountain. He was too sad to wish for anything else.""It looks like you got him on a technicality"
"Hey he had a good life. Besides if humans know all the rules involved in wishing, they would be doing it all the time. The overhead even know is staggering; 6 billion new universes coming into existence each day. And no one would be any happier, I can assure you that. The boss said he tried it once. It was a disaster. Class 5 paradoxes going on all over the place. All of existence continually being redone to fit everyone's wishes, and then even that wasn't possible. The policy now is a level playing field. But even that brings turmoil. You can't believe the paperwork.""So this 'Boss' is that God?"
"It is not in my job description to talk religion. In fact it is explicitly Not in my job description.""Okay, well what about handicapped people, like mentally handicapped. Wouldn't they wish to be smarter, or at least normal, and wouldn't almost everyone go along with this? Why are they the way they are?"
"They are the way they are, because that is part of the plan, and Yes, they do get a choice in the matter. When the end of their life comes, and the final balance sheets are turned in, they are asked if they would want to re-do the life they just lived as a normal person, and everyone of them says no.
You see, people often act more altruistically than you would believe. You have to look beyond the individual to understand why less fortunate people are part of the plan.Remember that time you thought you were going to have a miserable day, and you saw that lady escorting some mentally impaired people to lunch?"
The scene played again before my eyes. I was preoccupied with my own petty problems, and then suddenly in front of me were people trying to make life enjoyable for others on whom life was so hard."I can tell you, that the only time you humans impress me is when you show such care for the less fortunate. Less fortunate people are part of the plan. You know, Voltaire, that idiot, was sort of onto something when he wrote Candide. This is the best of all possible worlds. Of course he didn't really get the gist of it. He was really the most boring guy I ever met.
"I wish that I remember you, and that I am always glad that I made this wish.""Aren't we clever." Tom thought for a while, and then added, "Well, okay, no skin off my teeth, But you won't be allowed to tell anyone about this."
That had been our conversation of almost five years ago. I still don't understand all of this wish interference stuff, but it no longer bothers me. Tom said an example of this was hidden in our quantum mechanics, but I never bothered to look it up. He had said "The old guy figured it would be kind of subtle if he hid an example of your reality at the most basic level of your science." I am still not sure what he meant by this.
All I know is that it is a beautiful autumn day, and I am taking a walk with a friend. We walked in silence for a while and then Tom said the only thing that has ever made sense to me the first time that he said it;
"It seems to me, that you humans are either doing things, in which case you are happy, generally, or you are wishing for things, in which case you are unhappy, generally."I agreed, and we continued on down the path.
Copyright 1996 by Ronald N. Cole (aka Skip)