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THE WISHING TREE


I have this friend - actually she is a friend of my mother's, I should call her more an adopted daughter than an acquaintance of my own because we are judged by the company we keep and this bitch is crazy. Said friend, we'll call her MK, is always going on about wanting to get married. She is obsessed with her on-again, off-again boyfriend who one day leads her to believe that he will be the father of her children, and the next is romancing girls on various dating websites. Their relationship is, needless to say, stormy. The boyfriend puts it bluntly: "She wants my seed." He is more than willing to comply, at least some months of the year, but she is having difficulty conceiving. It may be him, it may be her, it maybe is just not meant to be. But it's driving MK crazy. I mean, crazier.

I asked this distressed girl why the desire to have a family. "I've always had it," she says. "Deep within me. It's been an irrepressible urge since I was very little."

"But why?" says I. "The desire to mate and procreate is the strongest desire on Earth. Is it for this reason that you are driven so inexorably in the direction of wife and mom, or is it something more personal."

She gets irritated. "I don't know. You're overthinking it. Don't try to dissuade me," she replies.

I'm not. I just hope that she aligns her heart's urge with her head's reasoning. Because if she really thinks about it, she is not really fit to be a good parent. And if most people thought about it, they'd think twice before giving life. MK is always complaining of her basket-case alcoholic narcissistic mother who never wanted kids then proceeded to have four girls; her parents who are going through a heartbreaking divorce; and sisters who secretly despise her and sometimes not so secretly judge her and ruthlessly compete. MK's life is in total disarray; she runs around giving meditation lessons to people all over the city, flies all over the country for periods as short as a day or two, couch surfs, rents a car, has one hundred and one health issues and seems to be always in tears. I gently point out that she may wish to get her life together before she decides to share it with another. Be constant and stable in your feelings (for boyfriend, family, etc.) because you will need to be a rock if the day comes that you become a mom. Parenting is a thankless job. Kids aren't grateful for what you do for them. They expect you to do it. They own you! And this gal is selfish. It is not uncommon for her to blow into the house, devour all the food, take a dump in the toilet and not flush and bombard everyone within earshot with all her troubles. She's a case of mememememememe. Not my idea of childrearing material.

All of my advice seemed to fall on deaf ears. Finally I told her: "You will get what you want, if you want it badly enough." At this her ears perked up.

"Really?"

And I told her the story of the Wishing Tree.

The magic tree fulfills all wishes. If you tell it your wish, if you lie down under it and think, or even dream, a wish, then your heart's desire will be granted. Children rush to the tree and pour out their requests. Most of these wishes are impetuous and unwise, like for too much candy, resulting in indigestion or tears. (Like the saying says, You better watch what you wish for, you just might get it.) Because the Wishing Tree grants all wishes freely and indiscriminately. As the children become adults they develop new wishes. At first these are fulfilled, but later the aim becomes the opposite - to find wishes that can be realized only with more and more difficulty. Like MK's wish to mate and have babies. It's been a long struggle; MK turns 38 today. Like the Wishing Tree, the universe is a gigantic wish-fulfiller, with branches extending into every person's heart. The cosmic decree is for each and every wish to be granted at some point or another. But a wish's fulfillment brings with it (sometimes dire) consequences.

One child in the group did not spend his years skipping from desire to desire, seeking gratification without reflection. He understood the tree's real nature. For him the tree was grand and mysterious. It was his father and mother. It held the world together, and its branches reached to infinity. Before the beginning it had been and always will be. He stood in wonder at the marvel of its majesty, and desired nothing more than simply to be.

You can be like this child, or like our dear poor lost friend MK, who I sincerely hope finds her way. Happy birthday.

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