We grow up listening to fairy tales, happy endings and wishes that come true. And for us, the enchantment of the other side, a world just beyond the reach of time and space settles deep within our souls.
We believe. We believe in true happiness, we believe in the triumph of good over evil, we believe in the beauty of others, we believe in freedom, we believe that someday love will save us all – we believe in ourselves.
When we grow older though, the magic dissipates. It never really goes away, but that sense of wonder, the fascination of pushing boundaries, of attaining the impossible becomes a childish exercise of no real consequence. We forget too soon, though, that real magic only happens we let ourselves feel that surge of energy. The boundless, transcendental, expansive feeling that overwhelms us, wraps us from head to foot in something. We can’t quite name it yet, but at some point, it transmutes into an almost tangible entity. One that leaves a sweet aftertaste, like you’ve just swallowed a little bit of magic. It is what we can’t get out of systems, it is what lies beneath our skin like an itch we cannot scratch, it is what lurks in the deepest recesses of our minds like a glimmer of light in the darkness. It what comes back to us in ways we haven’t really wrapped our heads around, through gestures we can’t wholly comprehend. Hope.
Bright, burning, beautiful hope. As long as there’s hope, there is life. Or the will to make the best of it, at the very least.
Lewis Carroll, master of all things whimsical and harbinger of hope to many, including me throughout my childhood, wrote and practiced in a really Zen philosophy: believing the impossible, or to be more specific, making six impossible wishes before breakfast.
In “Through the Looking Glass,” when Alice says, “There’s no use in trying since one can’t believe impossible things,” the Queen famously replies saying, “Sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!” The symbols of Alice and the Queen are, in so many ways, an embodiment of our own struggle between rationality and hope. Alice is our voice of reason. The sceptic, the realist, the grounded, level-headed anchor to our tempestuous, unbalanced ship of dreams. What we forget sometimes, is the fact that anchors weigh us down, drag us in deeper and sometimes are the very cause of the demise of our brave little ships. We need the Queen. We need imagination, we need the crazy, we need the irrational, the heart shatteringly scary, the limitless breath of fresh air that will set our ship afloat high on the seven seas. Maybe we’ll drift a little, but imagine the thrill of the ride, the adventures, the excitement. Oh, we need Hope. We need to wish for six impossible things before breakfast, and then believe that they will come true.
Because if we truly believe in them, they will.
If you could ask for six impossible wishes to be fulfilled instantaneously, unconditionally, and without any consequences, what would they be?
I’d wish to be less rigid and more accepting. I’d wish for self love and wish to learn the difference between falling in love and falling prey to it. I’d wish to be more grateful, and less selfish. I’d wish for calmness on the days when my world is a blur of chaotic pain. I’d wish for forgiveness for the times I didn’t deserve any, and wish for the strength to walk away from the things I should have left behind long ago. I’d wish I had better control over my temper and wish that I’d never hesitate to acknowledge and apologize for my mistake. I’d wish that I’d somehow make a difference to someone someday and wish that I’d truly believe in the inherent goodness in people.
More than anything else, I’d wish for the wisdom to recognize that all these wishes are not really impossible, that although they lie elusively out of my reach right now, there is this one thing I can do in order to make them possible…
And so, I’d believe.