If you could have two New Year’s wishes, what would they be?
What are two of your wishes and hopes for 2024, one that is possible and the other more aspirational?
All might agree that 2023 has been a year of challenges. We’ve been hammered by the economic climate and climate change, gun violence, soaring student debt, precarious gig employment, skyrocketing home prices, Covid-19 and RSV, two major wars, a dysfunctional Congress and so much more.
Albeit these concerns seem overwhelming, we have endured many horrors of the past and recalibrated our lives. Yet, there is hope and we wish for better times. Fortuitously, human beings are resilient. A piece in the New Yorker (Nov. 12, 2023) by Masha Gessen titled, “How to Maintain Hope in an Age of Catastrophe,” she features the musings and writings of psychoanalyst and author Robert Jay Lifton who has studied victims and perpetrators of horror and what that has taught us about the human will to survive.
Gessen writes: “Lifton is fascinated by the range and plasticity of the human mind, its ability to contort to the demands of totalitarian control, to find justification for the unimaginable—the Holocaust, war crimes, the atomic bomb—and yet recover, and reconjure hope. We are all survivors of Hiroshima, and, in our imaginations, of future nuclear holocaust,’ he wrote at the end of Death in Life.’ How do we live with such knowledge?...”
Some call it hope; we wish for something better.
Hope or wishes are defined as a desire for something to happen. It’s a goal that may or may not be achievable. It can range from something as prosaic as wishing for a bigger home or a new car. So, we work hard and save. You might want a raise at work and do all you can to earn it. You get a Covid vaccination and hope you won’t contract the disease. You avoid crowded restaurants and gym classes and even sometimes put on a mask again. Your hope is to be as healthy as possible. There’s no guarantee. You wish and hope that your youngest child gets into the college of their choice when the numbers make it akin to throwing darts at a wall and maybe hitting the center or first choice or a second or third.
You can work to achieve your wishes, regardless of how long it may take. We might live with disappointment and frustration in a world that may seem out of control. However, without hope and dreams, it’s akin to giving up, ceasing to live.
We all have hope that ranges from something simple and possible to attain to something over which we have no control. We call that wishful thinking. Examples:
A special trip.
A real diamond ring.
A new job that you’re passionate about.
To meet your soul mate.
Make one good new friend.
Buy a new piece of furniture.
Attend a Broadway show.
Eat at a restaurant you’ve longed to try.
Wishful Thinking--possible but not necessarily feasible:
To win the lottery.
Clean up the environment to prevent further erosion of the planet.
To achieve world peace, especially now in the Middle East.
To see a spouse cured of cancer.
To never get sick.
Write a book that’s a potential bestseller.
Here are our 2024 wishes as well as those submitted by readers, almost all of whom said they wish for peace in 2024.
Doable: a great trip or two or three to celebrate a milestone birthday year, and happy healthy offspring.
Wishful Thinking: To worry less about unhealthy possibilities and stop the clock of aging, and to get those four children’s books with Margaret published.
Doable: to settle in a permanent home.
Wishful thinking: All grade school children, who are behind because of Covid or migrant kids who are starting a new life in this country, will get what they need to assimilate and achieve grade levels in reading, writing and math. This will put them on a path to success in school and later life.
Doable: Continuing my weight loss journey and lose 15 more pounds.
Wishful thinking: Balance in the Middle East; a peaceful compromise.
Doable: Continue the progress I’ve made in restoring my good health in fighting cancer.
Wishful thinking: I want to move to Italy when I grow up.
Doable: All legal and end of life documents completed and in my hands.
Doable: I am wishing for a good placement for my second internship as a social worker that would involve something related to immigration policy.
Doable: To complete my memoir.
Wishful thinking: To hang with my great grandson for a couple of hours a day.
Doable: To see my business, Blair Box, grow (false eyelashes and other eye makeup).
Wishful thinking: I hope my immigration status improves.
Doable: Spending more time with friends and family.
Doable: Do my apartment exercises regularly; and go to New Orleans.
Wishful thinking: Figure out a future in a burgeoning relationship; take care of all the things in my to-do list.
Doable: My children are fulfilled, happy—and independent—in 2024.
Wishful thinking: A novel writes itself in my head, I write it down and find a publisher, and, poof, I'm an acclaimed author!
Doable: Good health.
Wishful thinking: Return of the Israeli hostages.
My doable wish is: Source printers for my photos and possibly develop a website for my (photography) work.
My fantasy wish is to travel into space!
Hope and wishes live within each of us. There’s nothing to lose if we give voice to our wants, concerns and fears in 2024. Our wishes are what catapult us forward and give us a reason to get up in the morning.