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18 September 2000

Tomorrow night, if you can, and if the weather holds, and if it stays warm, after sunset, go down to the foot bridge by the dam, and, where the lights shine up from underneath through the boards and supports, look...

See all the spiders' webs shining in the light? And don't they look as if they're full of snowflakes? And look at all those spiders! Have you ever seen so many fat busy spiders? And see? The webs are so full that some of the spiders are throwing out more lines, rappelling between the supports, sailing on the wind, hoping for purchase...

Now, look over the railing. Do you see the "snowstorm"? Or does it look more like wild fireworks? Poor hapless little flying bugs! Now they look like snow swirling in the wind; now, because of the flickering of the light, each single bug appears as a long string of lights making circles and spirals in a three-dimensional array, swirling out and down and sideways and upwards, this way and that— a wild and dazzling fireworks display cum lightshow— you can't imagine if you haven't seen it. Go look!

I hate the fact that they put lights under the footbridge, but it's done, and we may as well make the best of it. Enjoy the show!

I had the night off tonight. Peter closed the stand early so he could go officially tender his resignation from the Planning Board. I meant to use the time to continue the house cleaning I started over the weekend, but... I couldn't make myself go home. I brought my briefcase and stuff in, but I couldn't stay in the house. I went for a walk. And I kept walking. And... I couldn't walk far enough. You see, this morning I opened the jar of wishes.

The wish jar is a ceramic jar about four inches high and four inches wide. It's glazed in pleasing, earthy shades of browns and blues. On the front is a brown ceramic oval label that looks like it's made of leather. It's engraved "wishes." Around the neck of the jar is a piece of fancy cord with silver mylar stars entwined in it. The mouth of the jar is wide, and there's a rough cork stopper. Spilling out from under the cork stopper there are strings of rainbow-colored mylar excelsior. Very magical looking. The jar has sat on the table in the foyer, undisturbed, for the last six years. (It's a little dusty.)

Today, I was cleaning the table, and I wanted something to dump all the change in, and I remembered emptying the wish jar years ago, so... it wasn't empty.

I don't remember when or where we bought the jar. Perhaps it was that place on Long Island, or maybe it was out on the Cape, or maybe that place in New Jersey— or was it only down the road in that little store in Stockbridge, Connecticut? I do remember that there were lots of different jars. The labels were things like "Simple Answers," and "Time," and "Sweet Dreams." I seem to remember buying other jars to give as presents to friends... Anyway, we— I?— kept "wishes."

All those years ago, when things were going so badly for me and Bru, I started making use of the jar. I had already done everything humanly possible to try to fix things, and now it seemed quite hopeless. I figured magical intervention was all that I had left, so, I pinned my hopes on making wishes. I took to writing my wishes down on pieces of paper and putting them in the jar. At the time, there didn't seem to be anything else I could do but wish that, somehow, someway, through some magical intervention I'd find a way to work everything out, to get everything I ever wanted...

The jar got crammed full of wishes. Towards the end, I discovered that Bruce had started putting wishes in the jar, too. It was very sad. His wishes were so exactly like mine. Bru and I were— are so alike. Always in accord on the important stuff. And we were alike in our unhappiness, and our hopelessness. We still cared about and for each other, too. And all we wanted was... all we couldn't give or get from each other.

I remembered that I emptied the wish jar years ago. But, today I discovered otherwise. Inside were some old crumpled wishes, some shiny "magic" beans, a pentagonal shaped piece of catseye, and a three dollar coupon for a Clearplan Easy One Step Ovulation Predictor Kit [no expiration date], and, oddly enough, a bunch of change.

I wish I could tell you that the wishes I found were... I don't know, profound? elevating? enlightened? But they weren't. They were just the selfish wishes of a person who never had the patience or the courage to allow the world unfold as it would and as it should. They were all about what I wanted. Good things, the things most good people want, and not hurtful. But very selfish, all the same.

The Tao te Ching says, "The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them. She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle." And it also says, "True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can't be gained by interfering."

It bothered me today, coming face to face with my old self. Stirring those memories of all those old burning desires made me very uneasy, very afraid. I remembered all too clearly the pain of those times, of those desires. That's why I went walking: I was trying to get away.

The Tao says, "Hope is as hollow as fear... Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self." Ain't that the truth! And, on facing my fears tonight, I see that they are phantoms. Ghosts of dead desires, hopes, and wishes.

The other night, Ma said to me, "You know, I think the t'ai chi is changing you. You seem more... relaxed." I think I am changing. I think I have changed. Some. I'm working on it.

I put the change and the coupon back in the jar.


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