My Halloween costume this year was titled “Deer Santa”. I dressed as a reindeer and handed out little pieces of paper for people to write their wishes on and tie to my antlers so I could bring them to Santa before the holidays. Of course, I couldn’t just NOT read the wishes before sending them off to the Big Guy, so I would now like to share a few of my favorites with you.
- "I want to be invisible for 74 straight hours.”
- "For Christmas, I want the two-headed dragon that is above the bar @ Uptown."
- "I wish to decide who I am in love with."
- "Peace on Earth and for Miguel to love me."
- "I want a girlfriend, of course!"
- "I wish to know how to be happy."
- "I wish my injury heals quickly."
- "I want to swim like a shark!"
- "SPIDERMAN POWERS!… that is all."
- "A BIG COCK!… thanks. :)"
- "Hey Antlers. I want some antlers of my own."
- And my favorite of the night- "I wish for Zuckerberg’s pin #"
Over a third of the wishes I received that night were some form of,
"I wish to find my one true love."
I was discussing this a few days ago with a new friend I happened to meet that night and he couldn’t decide if it was sad or sweet that I had received so many of these. It could be a little of both. But since we were at a party full of twenty-somethings who were all new to San Francisco, I like to be optimistic for them.
One of the wishes said it perfectly: "I wish for all those who wish to realize that dreams don’t come true. They are true."
I’m reading a book called “Enjoy Every Sandwich” by Dr. Lee Lipsenthal, a very dear family friend who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2009. Being a physician, he knew his chances of dying were incredibly high. He knew he didn’t have a lot of time. But he didn’t want to fight. He didn’t want to spend his last remaining months struggling and stressing. So instead, he spent his time meditating. He reflected on how grateful he was for the people in his life and for the blessings he’d been given and the beauty there was in the world. In his last months, while he spent time with his wife and kids and friends, he wrote a beautiful book that was his absolute truth. It’s being advertised as a book about dying, but that’s not what it’s about at all. It’s a book about living.
"It may strike you as odd that I could have so much gratitude for this life that I was about to lose, but I had approached my life a bit differently than most. Every day for the last twenty years, I have practiced gratitude. I started by thinking about the things I was grateful for on a daily basis, reminding myself how lucky I was. Later, I began to use gratitude in my meditation practice. Gratitude became a small practice with a big payoff. In fact it is a vital part of savoring this sandwich of life.
I was not born with this mind-set, growing up in a family that treated every death and illness as if it were a tragedy, and was trained by a medical community where death was the enemy. Yet for me, July 24, 2009, was simply, a good day to die.”
Lee talks about making every single day of your life ‘a good day to die’; living every day as if it was your last. THAT’S when you truly start to live. And that’s when fear of death, and fear in general, start to disappear.
I never told anybody what I wrote down for my holiday wish. I wrote,
"I wish for a moment of pure radiance and beauty. I wish to stop for that moment and reflect on my past and my future and think, ‘Fate brought me here. I’m so glad’."
I didn’t realize at the time, but I wished for gratitude.
I’m going to complete my project by keeping my promise and sending all of these wishes to Santa’s address which I found online -P.O. box 56009 North Pole, Alaska, 99705-1099- in the hope that some kind of magic will come of the gesture. Who knows. Maybe Lee’s out there somewhere ready to put on his Santa hat to see what he can do to help.
He’s already granted my wish.
If you’re curious about Lee’s book, here’s a short video trailer. You can listen to his story in his own words. Or you can visit the facebook page.