Three Wishes (a story)

Three Wishes

As a genie entrapped in a lamp, I could not refuse any request, nor could I ever choose who would have the power of three wishes. I wondered at peoples’ choices—what often led to a cautionary tale, rather than a celebration.

Then, on a day I had no power to wish for, I was unexpectedly freed from my restrictive lamp, freed from ever granting another wish. In fact, in exchange for my emancipation, that  power was taken from me—except for one last time.  It was  called my “freedom task”.  If I didn’t fulfill it before the next blue moon,  I would be returned to the lamp forever.

The task: to give three wishes to one person of my own choice.

Choice? Over the millennia of service to the lamp, with no ability to choose or refuse, I had no practice in using higher powers of conscience and thought. Therefore,
I decided to elicit help from those who did.

In a nod to democratic process, about which I’d heard a little , I took my quest to people worldwide.  I set up an online Twitter account with the name “Best Three Wishes”.

Although I was careful to never reveal that I had the actual power to make any wish come true, people became very engaged in the discussion.  Wishes poured in that were sometimes playful, but usually earnest, and participation grew.

“A cure for the common cold” was an early suggestion, soon overtaken by “a cure for cancer”.  People wanted  cures for multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, heart disease, dementia and a growing list so long that if printed, it could reach all the way to Baghdad.

While I was happy to have chosen people to collectively arrive at the best three wishes,  my freedom task clearly stated that only one person could actually make the wishes.   Who would that be?  I would figure that out later, I thought.

I was surprised and encouraged to read so many altruistic impulses.  Is that what subdued peoples’ usual readiness to voice more selfish desires? Whatever the reason, I held onto the hope that I would soon be granting  the best three wishes ever.

The wish list for cures took a wide arc with the tweet, “The greatest disease is war”, then, “how can one cure war”?   People offered wishes for peace that would overflow an oil lamp twice the size of mine. I worried how I could ever fulfill that wish!

Someone added, “Include a wish for good hearts and minds for all, otherwise all the other good wishes will eventually be lost.” There was a long pause, as if everyone was sensing the immensity and complexity of their wishes.  Then someone again posted “What about cancer?”

These brief exchanges were quite civil as people shared their higher dreams. However, after I mentioned the deadline and that I would select the “Top Three”, some suggestions became assertions, then arguments—competitive with a mean streak—people implying that their wishes were somehow superior to others.

It was hard to see this kind of free exchange that chased some people away. Did such things always turn this rude? Would the final tally make sense? Would the top three really be the best? Would I have to or want to choose otherwise?

What was I thinking? I knew so little about choosing.

After reading such an exhaustive list of possible wishes, all with uncertain outcomes, I started wishing for my old, uncomplicated confinement of the lamp.

However,  I knew that was no longer my place, and to remain free of it, I now had to choose one person to pronounce the best three wishes.  Would I find someone able to dutifully make those wishes without including his or her own? To whom would I give this power? I looked outside. The moon was rising through the clouds like a genie from its lamp.  In three days it would be full—the second time this month.  A blue moon.

I looked at my hands that used to look like swirls of genie smoke, now looking like those of a human being.  I felt something in them I’d never felt before: pain.

I turned off my computer and sat in the darkness,  as if I were again in the confines of my old lamp. It was a momentary relief.

In the next moment I felt something else—a feeling. A wish.  I slowly rubbed my hands together.

For the first time I felt mankind’s dilemma. For the first time I felt compassion.



Blue dragonfly—where?

I only saw its shadow.

How did I see blue?






Strike a chord . . . 

or pluck a line of strings . . .

you’ll find you’re touching more than chords—
an accord within that sings.



Piano was my first instrument—the one I wanted to play, perhaps with a hope that I would somehow gain rank with my older sisters who were seven and eight years ahead of me.  There seemed to be no physical way to close that gap unless, perhaps, I learned this instrument and its “Rosetta Stone” notation.

Fortunately, I had another motivation. My mother introduced me to that artful pleasure of  “playing by ear” before I could read musical notes. She also had a collection of LPs (long-playing record albums) that included classical piano by Rachmaninoff, original Broadway cast recordings, and jazz vocalists such as Frank Sinatra.

I now appreciate with near awe how she turned our “little house on the prairie” into a cultural oasis that included reading, calligraphy, pen and ink art, and painting.

When it comes to music, I  think the most important instrument she introduced me to was my ear.  Throughout my education it was said I had a “good ear”, but thanks to my mother, I also learned  an attitude of approaching efforts with love, not reproaching efforts with judgment of perfection. 

It made learning new instruments (and by extension, life) a happier pursuit, undaunted by fear of falling short. Though I spent years in disciplined practice of piano, flute and bassoon which included playing before judges, my inner judge, like my kind mother, never wavered in compassion.

Like a school mate that one may lose track of when life moves on,  I lost track of an instrument that I’d worked hard to master—the bassoon.  I had only had access to one while playing in band and orchestra, a period that ended after college. I wonder if I could play it still. I wonder if, like a foreign language, I’d pick it up again if I tried.

Other things changed with time. The keyboard I now play is not the acoustic piano, but a digital instrument. I am now rusty at writing  musical notation which used to come almost as easy as writing thank you notes.  Software built into keyboard RAM, can now, to great extent, do that musical transcription.

Guitar used to go everywhere with me—even on airplanes. It was my instrument of choice when I set off for college, leaving the piano behind in my parents house. My flute came along too, but I then realized I needed more than a melodic instrument.

I used to tune my guitar in unique ways to prompt me into finding unusual chords. Just listening to the chords gave me a physical and psychological boost. I could almost feel—and still do—something happening in my brain when I explore chords. I can well understand how music was employed in hospitals of Andalusia to help with both physical and mental healing.

Aside from the healing aspects of listening, it seems that holding an instrument has added benefit.  As I hold either my guitar or Celtic harp, the sound waves find their way through the wood and into my own emotional grain. I learned this a few years ago when I was tuning my harp. I found that even in the tuning itself, I found tremendous relief (is that the word?).   It was as if I was tuning my own resonance—to something beyond music.






Power of suggestion


Look at an image by itself*,  then hear or read a word.  Does it change how you see, think of or feel the picture? How you think of or feel the word? 

Read a word by itself, then attach an image.  Does it change anything?


When a weekly photo challenge suggests a prompting word or concept, I notice how it alters the way I see my surroundings during that week.  The way I composed this shot, for example, was likely influenced by the prompt word contrasts.  If the word had been something else, would I have photographed this scene? Would I have even noticed it?


When you look at this picture, what examples of contrast  come to mind? **




Considering the power of suggestion, I can only hope that you surround yourself, as often as possible, with the kind of words and images that  brighten and enrich your day.      



*Do we ever really see an image  “by itself”?
What happens  in the mind when a word and image contrast?

**Here are a few contrasts I was able to name:  immovable, flexible . . . man made, nature made . . . fixed, growing.




“Happy” to play along

“Happy”, a 2013 song was an international event where participants from 143 countries uploaded more than 1,600 homemade videos of  people playfully miming along.  See the interactive map!  There’s also a 24-video of people in LA moving to its melody hour-by-hour around the clock.

Last week’s writing challenge invited us to rewrite lyrics to the tune of any known song. While Happy, the original, is already as playful as can be, it (and those who submitted their lighthearted videos) inspired me to play around with its lyrics.  

If you know the basic melody, I recommend playing the instrumental only to accompany as you read or sing along.

      [Verse 1:]
It may seem odd what I’m ‘bout to say . . .
I’m inviting you to get away . . .
Don’t need a ticket to an aeroplane . . .
‘Cuz you got your heart, your brain, and anyway . . .

You got it!

Come along if you feel you can reach up to the skies
see, you got it!
Come along if you feel you can see with your heart and eyes
see, you got it!
Come along if you feel there’s more to realize
see, you got it!
Come along if you feel that you are bound to rise!

[Verse 2:]
You’ll find out soon—no need to travel far . . .
Feel it all around, right where you are . . .
You will probably see it like the first time . . .
Like a travelin’ soul with a new rhyme . . .

Take a look and—


Take a look—in front of you
Take a look—and see it too
Take a look—another point of view
Take a look—what’s up to you
Take a look—and follow though
Take a look—what you say and do
Take a look—what you thought you knew
Take a look—and you can see it!

[Chorus 2X]

Take a look—in front of you
Take a look—and see it too
Take a look—another point of view
Take a look—it’s up to you!

[Chorus 2X]


. . .

[Alternate verse:]
There’s more to you than you think you are . . .
Show a little love and you’ll see you are . . .
Look again, see a lot—right where you are.

See, ya got it!

. . .

A happiness-related link

Note: parody is protected by fair use law—one can change the lyric to any song in the world. As a songwriter myself, I wonder how it would feel to hear a song “re-imagined”.  I guess it would depend!  All that aside, if any artist requests that I remove a parody I’ve posted on this blog, I will do so.

Contrast and commonality


We look twice. Is it contrast or commonality that strikes us . . .
or how both are at play and play nice?



You can see my other interpretation at See Diving.


Variations on noticing and naming the between


Between tree and brick . . . between light and shadow.

.    between   .

version 2 posted at See Diving 




Delicate wears lace of pollen-speckled petals.
It speaks with a voice that also listens.
It hears the pauses that address the heart and the rain yet to come,
the sun-seeking cloud and the cloud-seeking sun.
It offers relieving shade and dappled sunlight,
and knows which season is right for the moment.
It finds comfort in like company,
yet grows in any weather and endures the wind.
It barely notes its fallen petals, but sees its store of life to come—
pollen, seed, and roots holding strong.



Inspired by an image of fallen rose petals  posted in response to “Delicate“. . . and by  a telephone call with a longtime friend, Michele.


In the flow . . .

Between seeing and knowing

An illusory walkway  between.

A partial view, cropped by the photographer, can evoke an altered response,
an illusory sense,
a walk between two structures: seeing and knowing,

a sense of truth, forgetting what’s outside the margins,
a sense of  “I saw, therefore it is  (as I saw)”
a sense there’s no need to look again
or think.



Note: also posted at “See Diving”

Pedestrian Turn Signal?


Seeing it from a distance, then taking an extra look.

spotted today at an intersection


Spare Tires

Did the driver hear it’s important to carry a spare tire* ?
(just in case, he brought extra)



* also spelled “tyre”


An “I Feel Pretty” Twist

This week’s writing challenge  suggests rewriting lyrics to the tune of a known song.

Do you know the song I Feel Pretty ?*  Try this variation (with a twist ending):


I feel grumpy, oh so grumpy,
I feel grumpy and frumpy and frayed,
Humpty Dumpty would not dare
to sit with me today!

I feel tired, oh so tired,
uninspired, how tired I feel!
And so grumpy
that I hardly can believe I’m real.

See that funny face in the mirror there.
Who can that unhappy one be?
Such a sullen face,
such a grumpy face
such a tired face,
such a tired me!

It’s amazing, just amazing
how I manage to manage at all!
While so grumpy, it’s no wonder
that I’m tired now!

It’s amazing, how I do it,
I must credit myself with a smile!
And reward me with a nap I haven’t had for awhile.

See that gentle face in the mirror there.
Take another look and be kind.
Kinder with the eyes,
kinder with the heart
kinder with the mind
kinder with the life!

I feel better,
oh so better,
it’s impressive how rested I feel!
I must say, it’s a pretty wonderful day!


* lyrics written to the melody “I Feel Pretty” (YouTube link posted above). Note:  like The Sound of Music‘s  “My Favorite Things” this song was sung by Julie Andrews.


A commuter’s lyric of favorite things

This week’s writing challenge  suggests rewriting lyrics to the tune of a known song.

Lyrics?  That happens to be one of my favorite things!*

Will anyone find  their inner hum (and smile) as they read  this?


Roads with no traffic jam,
green lights all waiting,
five minutes early,
no bad news or rating,

cool bottled water
from high mountain spring,
good to remember a favorite thing!

People who greet me
without any reason,
flowers that pop up
before they’re in season,

warm soapy showers
that get me to sing,
good to remember a favorite thing!

Driving back home with
the sun on my shoulder,
tired from work, but
not feeling much older,

car lights a-sparkling
like jewels on a string,
good to remember a favorite thing!

When the cars honk—
when the plan fails—
when I’m falling behind—
I simply remember a favorite thing
and then I can rest my mind!

* lyrics written to the melody “My Favorite Things” (YouTube link posted above)


Adjoining rooms


One room leads to another,
yet each one has its say—its own identity,
even when there’s no door between . . .
even when both are painted the same color.


Not the whole story

While this photo may tell a story, it seems to also ask “What led up to this?”  or “What happened next?” I will never know the whole story of this man I spotted at the end of a trail leading to a Pacific Ocean outlook.

Though a picture may tell a story (of a thousand words) . . . we only know part of it.


“Who knows? We shall see” is a phrase repeated in an old story (told countless ways) to illustrate how every event is part of a larger whole.  


Tribute to Maya Angelou (a poem)

In her one title
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”
Ah! Something lasting writes on.

Her seven words hold
meanings that escape caging,
beauty that knows truth.

A rose by any other alphabet . . .

would smell as sweet.



A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” from William Shakespeare‘s play Romeo and Juliet,
where Juliet argues that the names of things do not matter, only what things “are”.    

“rose” pronounced “wardah” in Arabic
hint: read right to left 



response to “letters


The letters of music’s alphabet . . .

from “C” to shining “C”


Before I learned my ABC’s I learned this “alphabet” on my piano.
Music is a language that with only a few letters has told countless stories.


response to “letters

Free printable piano diagram for students and teachers: here.








From cloud cover of memory they fly—
wings, formations, direction—
how complete the moment feels!
Oh, to express it clearly—words spoken sharply
like the flap of wings!

For a moment they seem held aloft as if pausing,
yet in motion, like breath—

photographed in December 2013. Bay Area, CA.


Memory’s field

Wind, like poetry, tosses the grasses in my field of memory,
scatters seeds, and brings me to tears.
I want to see clearly, so I move toward it—walking, walking.
I feel I could walk a hundred years and get no closer.
I could live another hundred and still be where I am.
The grasses bend and spring up again.



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