Beware what you wish for … you just might get it.
It was a glorious spring Saturday, the sun warm and the leaves on the trees a perfect shade of luminous green. Except for the Redbuds, of course, which splashed brilliant swaths of red and fuchsia to break up the green. All in all, it was a great day to take a ride to the Athens (Ohio) Farmer’s Market.
Along the way, we made a pit stop and picked up a couple of scratch-off lottery tickets, just for fun and giggles (we won, too – a whopping $5)! But that set us off on a discussion about what we’d do if we actually won some phenomenal sum. I love those “what if” kinds of conversations; they energize me.
Naturally, in our minds we considered cars, houses, land, trips, philanthropy, “things.” I’m happy to say, though, that Hecate must be active in my psyche right now, because some kind of wisdom reared its head and made me think about possible negative changes that would result. And I realized that, honestly, I wouldn’t really need more stuff just because I could afford it. A big high-end house wouldn’t change the way I live in four basic rooms – bedroom, office, kitchen, and great room. Things? Not really, other than knowing that when it’s time for, say, a new king bed, I could buy it without concern. But to get a brand new one just because? No, only if I needed it. And a high-end one? Not unless it WAS the one that fit the best.
So that must have been on my mind the next day when I picked up the Sunday paper and read the HorribleScopes. I enjoy reading these snippets of vagueness mainly because I can read any one of the 12 and apply its wisdom to me. These were no exception. Charlie’s (Gemini) read, “The thing about getting what you want is that it’s always going to change your world. It’s wise to consider the many effects that will happen, good and bad, and weigh your desire against them.”
Now, that speaks to me. Have you really considered the old adage, “beware of what you wish for because you might get it?” I mean, we all pretty much understand what that means. We wish for things but once we get them, they may not be or do quite what we thought they would.
Charlie’s horoscope (and it fits all of us, if you stop and think about it), made me really consider that concept for a change. What I liked best was this:
“ … it’s always going to change your world.”
Wow. We don’t always think about that, do we? How many times do we start looking at the greener grass in another pasture – whether it’s a different house or a different car or a new job or more than enough money or even a different partner who seems to embody what our current one doesn’t?
The thing is, any kind of want, if we get it, will change our world. And the result, unless you’re Hecate, Greek Goddess of the Crossroads, is this: you don’t really know what that path holds. Surely enough, it holds change. And you need to be confident it’s the change you want if you go after it.
I see this all the time in people who get restless in their current home and start looking around for something they believe suits them better. They find it, they buy it, and some years later they realize that, yes, this new house suited them for all those reasons but now a host of other, new reasons are making it again unsuitable. Pretty soon, they’re restless and they begin the hunt for yet another home to address the new wants.
Charlie and I can testify to this. We left behind a nice, split-level house on a busy road, looking primarily for single-floor living on a less traveled street with more storage. We got one, but it wasn’t long before we realized we still had a plunging backyard and, despite the magnificence of the new bathroom, we missed our master bath. Our new kitchen was smaller and outdated, and the Florida room that had caught our eye? It proved too cold in winter and too hot in summer. The laundry was still in the basement, but, boy, did we have storage! That less-busy street? We got a quieter one but had to take on a steep hill in both directions.
The point is, we wished for it, we got it, and it still wasn’t perfect. So we found ourselves getting restless, talking about building “the perfect” place or finding what we “really want.” Despite our penchant for cruising open houses and looking at design books, this time we’ve managed to stand at the crossroads, thinking, considering, and searching for a little wisdom. Hecate didn’t disappoint. We’re staying put because we realize that every “want” brings change, good and bad, and there will always be wants.
I love coaching people who are nearing retirement, and I’ve learned one thing from doing that. Most of us don’t spend enough (or any) time understanding exactly what we’re getting into. We just know we covet that green grass of retirement. We love the idea of doing what we want, when we want, with whomever we want and at our own pace. Leave the rat race behind, we say. It’s time for leisure and no more work.
I’m with folks on this, too, because I’m looking at a 5-7 year stretch before I, too, can hang up my official work duties. But there’s a little voice inside me that’s whispering, “beware of what you wish for….” I’m listening better, too. I’m not going to do it without deciding how to fill those 40 hours (OK, maybe 32ish) I spend at work in a meaningful way. I’m going to do my best to understand how retirement will change my world. Then I can decide if retirement IS the answer and, if so, how I will care for the green grass of retirement so it doesn’t get weedy or patchy. This time, I’ll plan well for my choices.
I tend to think this is a good guide for wise decision making. Before embarking on a path to get what you want, remember that your world will inevitably change. It pays to think hard about those changes and weigh your desires against them.
Your answer may be a clearly shouted, “YES!” But if it’s a whispered, “beware …,” I encourage you to think on those wants a little more deeply. Make your decision be the one that carries you down the correct fork in the road. Remember, Hecate’s watching.