We know that we should be careful what we wish for lest we get it. But do we ever stop to consider that we should be careful what we get because we might just want to hang on to it?
Think about it.
It’s like 38 Special taught us: hold on loosely.
I have a girlfriend who is charmingly beautiful. We joke that she should be Cinderella at Disney because she wouldn’t even need a costume. About a year ago, she used to be a little bit “chunky.” She made a healthy life change, started going to the gym and became a vegan. Voila, twenty pounds gone and she became very pleased with herself and her body. Then. She became terrified that she would lose the progress she had made and so took a darker turn toward obsession. Unfortunately, she is not only unattractively thin, she is no longer charming. her hair breaks and her gums recede.
I have another friend who wanted a voluptuous garden. Hell-bent on an organic experience, she composted with manure, fertilized with “tonics,” and controlled pests with cayenne pepper and dish soap. She tended her seedlings and planted them and, during a drought year, watered them meticulously. Then the infestation came. She lost a few leaves and, infatuated with the idea of “war,” she spread Sevin dust all over her garden. Needless to say, the bees fled and none of her flowers were fertilized until months later.
I also know a man who wanted to be a business success so badly that he ended up being his own demise. He mistakenly defined success as wealth. When he forgot about customer service and employee happiness, he made everyone around him miserable. In effort to balance his wavering budget, he grasped onto his business wit both hands and strangled the life out of it. He broke laws, falsified documents, and in the end, drove everyone away.
These are, obviously parables for the real point: be careful of what you value. Do you place your values with those you really love? Or are you so afraid of loosing something that you undermine yourself? We all do it. It’s kinda a human thing.
Don’t we all know “control freaks” who want to manipulate and regulate to the point of joylessness? Don’t we all know someone “greedy” who micromanages with Draconian style to the point of lovelessness? Don’t we all know “social butterflies” and egomaniacs whose gregarious panache and insatiable need for attention can draw in plenty of hangers-on but no real friends? Haven’t we all been these people from time to time and to some degree?
When we get what we want, even then, we have to monitor our desires. We must continually ask ourselves, “What am I willing to sacrifice to keep this? Am I willing to hold on to this fulfilled desire at the cost of pursuing other, perhaps more satisfying and / or appropriate, desires?”
Let’s face it, though. Those of us strong enough to get what we want are often able to rationalize our motivations to the point of self-deception. Especially in our line, with our spiritualities, we are able to tell ourselves, “Well, this is my spiritual obligation. The gods gave me this task / blessing / calling; I must live it out.”
Sometimes, the universe gives us what we want just to see how much we are willing to lay it down. When we get what we want, it feeds our ego. To give up that desire is also to give up a huge chunk of ego. After all, we successfully manipulated the energy within ourselves and in the universe and obtained our desires through magical work. Damn. That’s a rush. Then to lay it all down? Shite. Who in their right mind would want to do that?
The person seeking the higher self. The person seeking union with the Divine. The person being obedient to a call which runs contrary to human instinct. Look at Abraham. Isaac (or Ishmael) was his beloved son – the miracle of his old age. His last ditch at immortality. And yet, Abraham was willing to bind him and lay him down as a sacrifice. So archetypal is this story that there is a term for such a sacrifice: the Akeidah (literally, the Binding).
This doesn’t mean that we should all start surrendering that which is dearest to us. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew God stopped the impending sacrifice. It just means that we should be willing to give it all up if called to do so. Obedience has its own reward. We should be willing to examine our egos for the will of the Divine.
After all, we are talking about having a little faith.
It means we should be careful what we wish for (or as I like to say, “what we witch for”). Because we just might get it. And then want to keep it. Against all odds.