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If I Told You, It Might Not Come True

January 1, 2016

What’d you wish when you threw that rock?

Oh, no.

Come on, tell me.

If I told you, it might not come true.

Like many families, we have holiday traditions at my house. 

  • We setup Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. 
  • We team with my neighbor to set our outdoor lights to music. 
  • The kids enact the Naitivity play on Christmas Eve as I read it out of a 130 year old Bible
  • We open presents one person at a time
  • The day after Christmas we eat pie for breakfast
  • We watch certain movies including “It’s A Wonderful Life”
  • We make New Year’s Resolutions

The quote at the beginning of this post is from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” As we watched the movie this year, I was struck by the difference between the main character, George Bailey and his wife, Mary. As young people, they both break a window in an old house and make a wish. Mary refuses to share hers at the time. Not so George.

What did you wish, George?

Well, not just one wish. A whole hatful. Mary, I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow and the next day and the next year and the year after that. I’m shaking the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world; Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colesseum. Then, I’m coming back here and go to college an see what they know. And then I’m going to build things. I’m gonna build air fields. I’m gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high. I’m gonna build bridges a mile long. 

The tragedy of the film is that George never accomplishes any of his wishes. He never even leaves the “crummy little town” of Bedford Falls. On the other hand, later in the film, as the newly married couple end up spending their wedding night in the same drafty old house house they’d thrown rocks at, we hear Mary say, 

Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for.

I wonder how many of us make resolutions like George vs Mary? I know I’ve been guilty of creating long lists of things in multiple categories. Big dreams, grand dreams. Dreams that would literally transform my life. Occasionally they’ve come true. Often they don’t. Sometimes, reality interposes itself and I realize my stated dream was at odds with my actual dreams. Everything has a cost. Even if the cost is simply our time, or our attention, everything we do in life coast us something. I’ve discovered at times that when it came time to pay the cost for a dream, I didn’t want to sacrifice more important things. 

To give your simple example, I’ve loved motorcycles since I was a kid. As an adult, I owned two motorcycles before I ever owned a car. Someday I want to own a Harley Davidson. I don’t even much care which one. I love the sound. I love the history. I love the idea. And yet, I don’t own a Harley. In fact, I don’t own any motorcycles. While I love to ride, motorcycles are more dangerous than cars. I made the decision when my wife first announced she was pregnant, that motorcycles were something that had to wait. I’ll buy one again someday. But, not while I have children who depend on me. I’m not willing to pay the price right now.

Unlike George, Mary had a very simple wish. She wanted to get married, have babies and raise them in Bedford Falls. It’s not just the different nature of her dreams, that struck me. I think Frank Capra, the director was intentionally showing us that there are not “small” dreams vs “big” dreams.What I noticed this year in watching the film was that Mary doesn’t talk about her dreams. She simply goes about making them happen. Sure, she says, “If I tell you it might not come true.” But, really, she’s showing us the difference between those who talk about their dreams and those who simply get busy making them happen.  

A friend of mine posted his New Year’s resolution. 

Gonna be realistic with my annual optimism: In 2016 I resolve to fail a lot, and then keep going anyway because that’s how success works.

I had goals last year for this blog. Many of them succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. Others are going to require more work. But as I look at the coming year, I’m going to try to take a lesson from a 70 year old film. I’m mostly going to make the goals and then get busy making them happen. Hopefully I’ll remember to stop along the way this year as I accomplish them and say, 

This is what I wished for.

May all of you have a prosperous and happy 2016. Thanks for sharing 2015 with me and I’ll try to keep it entertaining. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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