Be Careful What You Wish For

Though I do not remember what the story was about, I can see the green cardboard binder I put it in. I can see my juvenile handwriting — tall and thin, with no slant — rendered in fat, dark, shiny pencil. I can see the paper: unbleached, brown, and grainy with thick, uneven blue lines. I can even see my small hands carefully printing the title on the binder, but I cannot read that title.

I do remember why I was writing. An advertisement in Popular Mechanics had lulled me. The ad promised that the techniques revealed in a certain book would lead to the fulfillment of one’s every wish, and at eleven years of age I had many wishes. I felt powerless, and I longed for the freedom of adulthood. Adults had it made: money, cars, lots of friends, no bedtime, and no parents or teachers telling them what to do. Adults could eat what they wanted, when they wanted. They were bigger than any of the bullies I knew, and they could answer almost any question.

The book was not at the library, but I found it at Pickwick’s in South Coast Plaza. I snuck between the shelves and thumbed the precious volume, fearing that at any moment someone would discover me and, with a shout of “this ain’t a library, kid,” chase me from the store. I could not afford to buy the book, but the description on the dust jacket fired my imagination. Surely this was the path to the carefree life of adults!

When I heard about the writing contest, I knew that the positive-thinking techniques I had learned from my hurried readings were finally working. The winners of the contest would each receive a six dollar gift certificate from Pickwick. That would put me well on my way toward being able to afford the nine ninety-five cover price. I was certain of my success. I worked on the story for days, thinking positively, remaining constantly aware of my surroundings, and drawing on the cosmic consciousness — all techniques recommended in The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power. Finally, one evening, the requisite three pages spilled forth.

In spite of my confidence, I was elated when I learned that I had won. The Tustin News printed a grainy picture of the five winners. Already riches and fame were beginning to come my way! I scraped together two months’ worth of hoarded allowance (twenty-five cents per week), borrowed two dollars and change from Mom, and bought the book that would liberate me forever from the yoke of childhood.

Once removed from the exciting realm of the unknown and forbidden, the book proved to be a disappointment. It seems that, along with the unlimited power of metaphysics, hard work and patience are still the paving stones for the road to success. I have lost both the book and the story in the intervening decades, along with many of my illusions of adulthood, but I have kept a first hand knowledge of the power of the written word.

RonRisley – 06 Feb 1991