Today I was reading a post from a mother in Iran, a mother whose daughter wanted to pierce her nose. The mother disapproved, and the daughter replied, "Piercing your nose is no big deal. Maybe I will in the end regret it, but that's not the whole world. It is a small wish. By banning it, you're turning a small wish into my ultimate dream. Why do you want me to have such insignificant dreams? If I can fulfill these small wishes and not grow up with such trivial dreams, don't you think I will have a better life waiting for me?" (p15, The Sun, April 2006)
Growing up with large dreams brings abundant life, the kind of life that I believe God wants us to have. I wonder what small wishes were denied me that grew into trivial dreams? And, did those trivial dreams prevent me from envisioning a larger, more abundant life? Worse, do we deny ourselves small wishes even now and let those small wishes become burning desires that we impulsively fulfill - perhaps at the wrong times with the wrong people?
Perhaps adulthood means being able to hold these small wishes alongside the larger dreams and know that someday they may all be true. Small wishes give us day to day pleasure, but large dreams draw us into the future and into abundance. The trick is to keep the small wishes as small wishes and not let them become burning desires or trivial dreams. And, that is hard to do, especially if you have no means to fulfill even the small wishes.
How then are we to keep the forward-looking perspective, to see the forest and the trees? I find my small wishes most often when I'm making gratitude lists. Someone in a 12-step meeting once said, "All I ever wanted was MORE." And, that's what I find when I'm counting my good things. I want just one more small wish. Sometimes that wish involves doing good for and with others; but mostly my small wishes involve just me and material goods.
At the same time that I'm wishing for these small things more, I'm continuing to be thankful for the ones that I have. I can separate these small wishes from my large dreams by recognizing how much I already have. And, my large dreams are gradually being fulfilled - one good move at a time - moves by me, moves by my county, moves by my nation and other nations.
And, so my small wishes do not become burning desires when I am able to look at them and see that they are only sprouts in the forest. Important sprouts because a good forest provides living matter in all sizes and shapes, but they are not the trees nor the underbrush. Together, the small wishes and the large dreams make a viable forest for living creatures like you and me.