Stars on the Water

He spent the night watching stars fall on the water. At first he tried making a wish on each one, but as the meteor shower wore on, he gave it up. There just wasn’t that much to wish for in his world.

The first few had been huge, each a great hulking beast of a wish — world peace, an end to hunger, freedom and justice for all. But there’s only room for so many of those in the universe and he soon learned there’s very little all men need. Happiness, it seems, is a local affair.

So he turned his mind to what it would take to make just one man happy.

Riches? It was a start, but not really what he wanted. After you take care of food, shelter and clothing, there wasn’t that much money could buy. He’d learned long ago buying toys wasn’t the best way to enjoy them. Too much, too fast, and it all becomes dross. It’s the wanting that gives pleasure, not the acquisition.

It’s the same with love, he thought. No matter how much he might want a particular woman, having some cosmic force just snap its fingers and deliver her, would be a hideous thwarting of his will. The pleasure comes not from possessing a lover but from having her want to be possessed.

Knowledge? Again, the quest seemed more important than the goal. To know everything would rob one of the pleasure of learning.

Wisdom, he thought, watching yet another star fall. That would be fine thing for a man to possess. And well worth wishing for. Closing his eyes, he held the thought until the last star was gone and the light began to grow in the east. With so many stars, surely this one wish would have to be granted.

“Funny,” he thought, opening his eyes. “I don’t feel any different.”

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