There is a common bit of wisdom which goes as follows: “Be careful what you wish for – you might get it.” Aside from the assumption that the Universe is literal and neutral and will definitely bring just what is asked for, and the seemingly opposite assumption that the loving, living Energy that created us just might know better than our fickle perception what we really want, sometimes the adage seems to work. In other words, we think we want, we get what we think we want, and it turns out that it wasn’t what we wanted.
For example, enough of us thought that we wanted a Trump presidency. We voted for it. Almost a year out from the election, if one can believe the polls, most of us have now found out we didn’t want it. Another example is from mythology, which is regarded by some to be an expression of mankind’s collective unconscious. King Midas was not regarded as a particularly bad man; there are no reports that he was a harsh ruler or an unloving father. Simply, he liked gold – a lot – and got the idea that if he could create gold by touching things, he could fix whatever made him (or, possibly, others) unhappy. He received his gift. Sadly, he found out that a golden statue of a daughter didn’t make him happier than a living daughter. Or, in the recent book by Ma’ikwe Ludwig, Together Resilient, the author recounts her own experience with getting what she thought she wanted. “When I first moved to community, I had an image of myself as someone who would just love to live in a cabin in the woods somewhere, pretty isolated and surrounded by the glories of nature. Shortly after moving to my first full-on community, my partner and I got a chance to do just that. It was great!
For about a week. And then I started noticing these strange longings to be right in the middle of things. I found myself very drawn to living in one of the dorms instead of our sweet little cabin, and resenting the 10-minute walk to home, pretty as it was. A few months later, we did a room swap, and I was much happier after that.”
One problem is that all things are interconnected, and change or motion in one area inspires a balancing change in other areas, near or far. As human perception is not broad enough to encompass an awareness of all possible consequences or results that can arise from a given change, we can be surprised when we encounter one. If we stop to consider them, we can perceive some of the complementary changes that may arise from our getting what we think we want, but we cannot know all of the consequences. The pesticides that kill the insects that munch on the harvests also kill the bees that pollinate the crops. When we thought to kill insects that compete with us for food, we were unaware that we were risking the bounty that sustains us.
What to do, then? Do we need to remain trapped in passivity, eschewing change? Not at all. Change is the motion of the universe, its essence of existence. To be alive is to change. We can certainly seek specific changes. To do so wisely, though, is to first consider what results may ensue from the desired change, and be willing to embrace those results. We need also to maintain an attitude of general acceptance toward the results that we cannot foresee, but which may also occur.
In addition, we need to come from a position of gratitude. Being grateful for what is now and acknowledging its benefit helps what is to be manifest smoothly. Practicing gratitude for what is now also builds the inner discipline to be grateful for the results emerging from our specific wished for change, and that gratitude helps, in its own way, to bring about what we desire. We must let go of the change we have asked for, practicing acceptance and gratitude even as we set intent; we need to trust that if we let go, what comes will be for the ultimate best.
Perhaps this is the origin of, “Be careful of what you wish or ask for.” May we each live in balance and joy.
P.S. Kids, don’t wish for too much candy this Halloween. You might not want a resulting stomachache.