05.17.14 I was so delighted by this wishlantern, floating over the lake in the enchanting blue hour, that I failed to make a wish. Our friends brought it as a gift, and after dinner, they each held a side of the lantern, lit the fuse, and when it filled with hot air, they gently let it go from their hands. It rose up over the lake, before drifting to the east, high above the hills behind us. With the scent of wood smoke in the air from a burning slash pile, we talked of how dangerous this would be in the summer when the forests are heated up by our long summer days. But, right now, in the springtime, it was pure magic to see this lantern of light float above the water.
In the morning, I read the instructions/warnings on the packaging from the lantern. They included:
“Check wind direction and ensure that the flight path is clear and lanterns will not drift into buildings or trees.” “Do not release within five miles of an airport.” “Wear gloves and flame retardant clothing.” And my favorite warning, “If you are using this lantern near a coast, please inform the coast guard of your intended lantern release so they do not mistake them for distress flares.”
It got me thinking about the nature of “wishes”. Just the evening before, I photographed golden dots of sunshine sparkling on top of the water, and thought how I’d tell my grandchildren it was fairy dust, good wishes left by the fairies, which they know, truly exist. We always think that sunshine on morning dew is fairy dust. We threw pennies in a fountain in California, and Norah, being Norah, would not reveal her wish, for fear it would not come true. Cormac, being Cormac, said “I wished that I would always get whatever I want.” He obviously isn’t old enough to heed the adage, “be careful what you wish for.”
I wonder if it’s part of growing old, but I’ve begun to notice that sometimes my wishes feel like distress flares. A friend gave me Tibetan prayer flags for my birthday and I’m still hunting for the exact location to string them between the trees, so they will catch the right amount of wind to send out prayers and wishes. Do I really believe these “wishes” I send out into the Universe, for someone’s healing, will become a reality? Do I think my prayers of gratitude are some kind of insurance policy against the future? I do know that the stillness during those moments makes me aware of how precious, how fragile life is, and my default wish on a penny with the grandkids, is “Please let them be safe.” I try to be careful what I wish for; this is the best I can do for now.