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How we love our wishes! We wish upon stars. Blow out candles. We throw coins in fountains and scatter dandelion fluff, all in hopes that our wishes will be granted, fairy-godmother-style.
But do we ever stop to think through our wishes enough to know what having them might mean?
An ancient Greek story warns of wishing without understanding the consequences. In "The Sword of Damocles," a tyrannical ruler named Dionysius suffers from what some call the golden cage syndrome: He has unlimited money and power, yet he doesn't trust anyone. He's so riddled with paranoia, he's even built a moat around his sleeping quarters.
One day, a courtier called Damocles remarked at how perfect and easy Dionysius's life must be. In response, the ruler suggested they trade places for a day so that Damocles might find out for himself. The eager Damocles was then pampered and regaled like a king. However, when led to sit on "his" throne, he noticed a sharpened sword dangling by a single horse hair hovering inches above his head. Horrified, Damocles jumped up and begged to stop the trade immediately... to which Dionysius replied, "You felt threatened sitting beneath the sword for a minute, but I feel a similar danger every moment of every day." Damocles couldn't wait to return to the safety of his simple cottage--and so he did.
The moral of the story? Sometimes we wish for things because, on the outside, they look shiny and fabulous.