[Note: Mr. Herbert responded to THE QUESTION & ANSWERS SESSION question
I posed in the Aug. issue of STTS about three days too late. His entry
was so well written and, more importantly, insightful that I decided to
give his reply article space in the Oct. issue. Thus, here is Mr.
Herbert's reply to the question: "If you had one wish, what would you
wish for and why?"]
If I Had One Wish...
Copyright (c) 1993, L.J. Herbert
All rights reserved
The falbed wish is something that has thrilled humankind throughout the
ages, inspiring many myths wherin hapless men succumb to the follies the
human mind is so capable of producing when it is offered such a tempting
lure as "anything your heart desires". Through their fumblings we learn
what NOT to wish for: wealth, status, the love of another, the death of
another, more wishes, etc., but the mind always refuses be tethered and
presses forward with yet more fantasic explorations of how this
perplexing riddle might finally be solved by the wise man with "The
Without claiming to be such a wise man, I'd like to establish for the
criticism of others the conclusion my own mind comes to. My solution
stems from a practice (made easier by this question's hypothetical
nature, to be sure!) of resisting all initial urges to grab at pretty
baubles so that I can attempt to trly answer the question in all its
implications by pinpointing the ONE thing I desire above all other
objects. The frequent context of this question--a myth--will be my
guide in this pursuit.
In exposing the eternal frailty of human beings, this myth reminds me
that I too am human, hinting at universal implications. Thus, a spark
of insight tells me that I must search for a universal wish, one which
all men and women would agree with. This seems difficult only if I
forget the frame of myth, for what is myth if it is not the ultimate
expression of human solidarity? To be sure, myths are particular in
detail, but their underlying purpose, from Gilgamesh to Star Wars, is
always the same: the search for an enlightened understanding of our
confusing existence; in other words, a knowledge of how to LIVE.
When this is understood, what else is there to wish for but the ability
to interperate Nature with wisdom and so to live well in this hostile
world? This is what all of we homo sapiens would wish for if we merely
reflected on our innermost longings. The proof is in the very origin of
this question: the myth.