An old English nursery rhyme from the 16th century begins with the words: "If wishes were horses, then beggars (or poor men) would ride."
In a 1971 Broadway musical called "The Inner City" based on the book "The Inner City Mother Goose," the rhyme was re-written into a song that began: "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride, and rich man and poor man in peace would abide."
It is a grand thought, and millions around the world believe that if we used the power of our collective imaginations in pursuit of peace, peace would prevail.
And so it is with wishes in the mind of a child. Anything and everything becomes possible.
At last weekend's third annual Fairy Festival at Chimney Park, children were given brightly colored strips of paper and colored markers and were asked to write down their fondest wishes to be hung in a forest of sapling trees. The bare-limbed trees came alive with brilliant colors and wishes dancing in the breeze.
Their wishes are worth telling, particularly those that bespeak the anguish life visits on young lives: "Daddy come home!" "I wish there was a cure for cancer." "I wish my family had money." "My wish is I want to make my family love." "For PawPaw to live many more years." "I wish to be cancer free." "I wish God was in every ones heart." "I wish I was very pupolar (popular) ... ." "For mommy and daddy to go for a walk." "I wish that my mama will relax after her hard work."
In a perfect world, we'd all wish that children would never know of death, disease, want, pain or stress. But this is not a perfect world, is it?
Animals were on the minds of many of the children: "I wish for all animals to have Peace." "I wish that I could talk to animals." "I wish for me to get a horse." "I wish that I can have another bunny." "I wish I had a dog." "I wish for Unicorns." And "I whish dinosuors wher real." (Those aren't typos!)
It is predictable that this world's emphasis on money and possessions has imprinted young minds: "I whish I had a lot of Mony." "I wish that I win a Million Dollars." "I wish for a 100 dolor (dollar) berl (bill)." "I wish to get a cell phone." "I wish for Disney World." "I wish for Direct TV." (Some marketers have big smiles on their faces right now, don't you know?)
Others were already envisioning future careers: "I want to be a Ballerina." "I wish to be the world's best comic writer." "I whish I wos a pop star and live in Hollywood!" "I wish to be successful."
A day devoted to the allure and lore of fairies made some of the kids want to join that imaginary (or is it?) world: "I wont to Bia fare." "That a fairy will live in my house." "I wish I could fly." "I wish I had some money so I could buy this cool stuff and that a fairy would actually come." "I wish a knomb (gnome) would come visit me and tuck me into bed."
One mom wasn't shy about putting her own wish on a tree: "I wish for a cleaning fairy!" Anyone want to join me in a chorus of "Amen"?
Then there were some simpler wishes: "For the swimming poll for to be clean." "I wish that my team will win all the softball games this season." "I wish I had some gummy bears." " A baby sister!" "I wish a train would go back by my house again." "I wish that Ficquett could stay where it is for just one more year." "I wish that I had my 8th birthday and I was in sacin (second) grad." "I wish every day was a play day."
Finally: "I wish I have everything & do what ever I want."
Were true happiness that simple.
Well, it can be in the mind of a child, but as adults, most of us know that having "everything" and doing whatever we want represent a shallow form of existence exemplified by the casual and repellent statement: "Whoever has the most toys when he dies wins."
Wishes can be far more than whimsy.
They can be a potent way to focus one's efforts and energies toward the achievement of life-altering goals, for oneself or for humankind.
There were those who wished to fly, and they did.
There were those who wished for a cure for disease, and they found it.
Wishes can become a life's work.
Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics.