“Look, it’s a genie lamp,” my oldest brother exclaimed. “What’s a genie lamp?” I asked. My oldest replied, “You know, like Aladdin’s lamp. You can make a wish.” My next oldest brother had a smirk on his face, but I was intrigued.
It was the summer of 1963, I was nine, and never happier in my life. Dad was in the military and we as a family had just moved to Germany. We were waiting to get housing on base so we were temporarily living in a house located on a farmer’s land. There were trees to climb, barns to play hide-n-seek in, and forests to explore. This particular day my three brothers and I had decided to hike in the woods. It was at that time my oldest brother noticed something brown and metallic-looking nestled among the leaves. That’s when he discovered the lamp. “Let’s take it home, clean it and make a wish,” my brother excitedly said. Sounded great to me.
We went on hiking for a few more hours before returning home. I’m assuming he cleaned it up but I cannot recall what it really looked like. At the time I not sure what a genie lamp would have looked like. I had heard of a genie in a bottle. I now wonder if the lamp he found was some sort of old oil can for pouring into kerosene lamps. It had that elongated spout like a gravy boat or as he said, an Aladdin’s lamp.
I recall arguing with my brothers about what we would wish for. “I want a million dollars,” my younger brother said. At first I said I wanted to be a baseball player like Mickey Mantle. Then I got cute and said, “I know, I’ll wish for three more wishes,” as if no one had thought of that before. My next oldest responded with “why just three?” My bubble burst when the oldest said you’re not allowed to do that. You lose all your wishes when you do that. “Who says?” I asked. “That’s the rule,” he said. I think you can envision how the conversation went, how it is among kids. Decades later when I took my kids to see Aladdin with Robin Williams he commented, “nix on wishing for more wishes.” That finalized it once and for all in my mind. I chuckled when I heard Robin Williams say that.
After he cleaned the lamp up, we took turns rubbing the lantern and making wishes, at least that is how I remember it. I’m sure my brothers have a different take on the story. I can also assure you none of our wishes materialized.
In the 1960’s on Saturday nights we watched I Dream of Jeannie with Barbara Eden. My imagination raced wondering what I would wish for. I think my dad enjoyed looking at the female genie. Now that I’m older, I don’t blame him, nice looking woman. Fast forward to 2010. If you had one wish, what would it be?
Interesting how each of has thought about wishing for something. We do it in our minds all the time. We also dismiss it very quickly form our minds. Let me ask you, would you wish for something very specific like winning the lottery, or a gold medal at the Olympics. Would you rather wish for something more generic like having good health or long life. Perhaps you would wish for something noble like bringing healing to a loved one.
One of my initial thoughts is, “who cares, it’s never going to happen.” Well, it might happen more than we realize. First of all, it really did happen for someone. Not the genie in a bottle, and not that anyone has a direct line to God to answer their wish list. But remember the story of King Solomon. God told him I will give you what you desire. God was pleased when Solomon chose wisdom. Solomon used his wisdom to rule well(quit successfully) and to acquire wealth. A lot of men also envy Solomon because he had over a thousand wives. However, if you read some of his writings such as Lamentations in the Old Testament, Solomon may not have been as happy as we think he was. He was a King, he was powerful, he was rich, he had fame, he was liked, he had lots of wives. Sounds like he had it all, but something was missing.
Let me ask you another question. Why would God want to bless Solomon and not the rest of us? Of course he cares for each of us. It’s just that we have a limited, if not distorted, view of what would make us happy if we could wish for it. If we were to take the time to realize the many of the good things life has provided us, perhaps our wish list would not be too long. Hopefully, all of us should be more inclined to appreciate what is directly in front of us. It is also hopeful we would seek more relationship with the creator who provides good gifts in their right time.
I’ll just give one you simple example. When I was a young man I hoped and prayed for a good wife. I’m about to go eat a bowl of soup and a cheese sandwich with her. I’ve enjoyed her company for 35 years. I’ll let Solomon enjoy the feast of a King and all his women. I don’t have to deal with all that the decisions involved in being a King. I think I’ll enjoy my peaceful evening.
I don’t think you or I will find a genie in a lamp but I hope we take the time to realize just how many good gifts(wishes) we may have already received, and where they come from.
It is still fun and imaginative to dream of finding that genie. Good luck to you. One of the situation cards included in the board game Treasure Trove reads as follows:
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