Air Castles Don’t Require Cleaning
As I was strolling along the snowy grounds of the imposing Schoenbrunn Palace, a saying my mother used to say came to mind. Translated from German it means ‘Air castles don’t require cleaning.’
It sounds rather clunky in English but is used to admonish children when they have rather impractical fantasies. Such as living in a lavish palace. The point being, that on the average income, a castle is a hell of a lot of work and will have an endless list of repairs past, present and future. Being easily distracted, I struggle removing the cobwebs from my modestly sized house, let alone a large mansion. And the stress of having to find funding for the listed building hole in the roof would prove too much for me. I’ll stick to my home thank you.
But the phrase is used more generally, not just castle related day-dreams, and is a handy way to remind us that what we have, is not always worse. And it isn’t just children that day-dream. We adults are rather good at it too. The difference being that the fantasies move from ‘probable’ to ‘possible’ to ‘definitely not likely but it’s nice to think about anyway’, in order to plug some gaps in life. You may have given up on ever becoming a world class footballer or super star, but the fantasy is still tantalisingly delicious.
Your First Wish Please
Meanwhile your Genie is impatiently drumming his fingers on the lamp, waiting for you to utter your first wish. Feeling pressured you shout: ‘I want to be rich!’ ‘Done’, says the genie. Alas, you didn’t think this through very well. You should have been more specific. The bank the genie has used to deposit your billions goes under before you even get to pick the marble tops for your yacht, which is promptly impounded. Or the billions belong to an international crime cartel and you and your family are brutally murdered. Perhaps your partner is kidnapped for ransom. Or you’re just really rubbish with money, invest in all the wrong things, and end up a million in debt.
Your second wish
Right. Better think about this one more carefully. Do I want wings? Would be cool, but I may be hit by a plane on my first test flight. Or put into the drone category and banned from all airports. Or kidnapped for some freak show.
I could ask for good health. That should be ok. But I could be in an accident and horribly maimed, or loose my mind, and still be essentially healthy. I could be imprisoned by a psychopath and my body would regenerate after each bout of torture.
Another child perhaps! But then it may be born with some terrible affliction..
World peace! That has to be a good wish. Alas, it is not human nature to be peaceful for any length of time, and this peace may be accomplished with a world tyrant who holds humanity in such fear that it wouldn’t dare fight. (G – you said peace, not freedom.)
Better hire a lawyer and get a proper contract with lots of clauses. Lets see if we can cover all down-sides. But as we know, even the best and longest contracts can have loop-holes.
Your second wish please!
Meanwhile your Genie is getting tetchy. He’s missed East Enders and just wants a lie down on his divan. Let’s go for something simple then, Beauty. But if you say ‘I want to be beautiful’, you may be beautiful to the one person who likes a fat bastard with moles on their face. More specific then. ‘I would like a slightly smaller nose, legs like A, bum like B, eyes like D, skin like Z, muscles like Y…. etc. Yup – that would cover it. Oh – and my new looks cannot in any way interfere with my current relationships and family, or in any way affect my health. And while you’re at it please make my partner a little taller to match my new height.’
‘I can see 157 wishes here’, says the genie. You can only have another 2. ‘Eyes and nose perhaps?
Back to Parables
It’s clear why tales and parables regarding wishes rarely end well. From making a deal with the Devil, to a Genie in a bottle, the price of wishes is generally far worse than they would have been beforehand. Everything in life has consequences, and we can never know what would have happened had life taken a different path somewhere along the line. Things may have turned out better. Or far worse, however bleak things may appear.
Your Final Wish
Perhaps the safest course is to make a nice wish for someone else. Then even if it doesn’t work out, you can say ‘I tried!’.
May all your wishes come true… x
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