When you wish upon a tree…

Just last week, I became aware that we have a wishing tree in Washington, D.C. It is located at the Hirshhorn Museum Sculpture Garden on the National Mall, and it is part of an interactive project conceived by Yoko Ono. She often saw wishing trees at Japanese temples when she was a child, and decided to make the Wish Trees part of her exhibits around the world.

So last Monday, I decided to get myself down to our Wish Tree and see what kinds of things people were wishing for. The wishes ran the gamut from the expected, to the poignant, to the humorous. People wished for jobs, better health, reconciliation and world peace. One person wished for “peace and prosperity for Africa”; another wished for a second term for “our great President Obama”; and someone else wished that it was okay for Washingtonians to be “just a bit more weird”!

Not everyone wants something for himself. Many write wishes with other people in mind. One person even wished that she could give up her wish so that all the others would come true. Those kind of aspirations made me think of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to very sick children. Their mission is to enrich the lives of desperately ill children, giving them some hope and joy. They rely on a group of volunteers called “wish granters” to help realize the dreams of the children. One of these wish granters has said that “Helping them get their wish is the best feeling ever.”

So is it better to have my own wish come true, or to see someone else get their wish? The Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Does the good feeling of seeing another person happy last longer than our own gratification? I guess it depends on your perspective. We all fall prey to the ‘center of the universe’ trap, where we get so hyper-focused on our own problems and needs that we can’t see that someone else might have the same or worse situation. Whether we give a wish or another kind of gift, focusing on another gets us out of the trap, focuses our energies outward, and helps us be more positive.

Where do all the wishes go? So far, over 250,000 children have had their wishes granted by Make-a-Wish. All of the Wish Tree wishes are sent to Iceland, where they are placed in capsules around the Imagine Peace Tower on the Isle of Videy. About a million and a half wishes have been accumulated since the project began. The Imagine Peace Tower is a tower of light that is a tribute to John Lennon, and to his and Yoko’s campaign for world peace. It is a reminder that we are all connected by peace and love.

Imagine that.

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