On New Year’s Eve, we went to the Carnegie Museum of Art/Natural History in Pittsburgh, for a family outing. In addition to the usual giant dinosaur bones and stellar gem selections was the entranceway “I Wish your Wish” project, which stuck with me more than any of the other wonderful things we saw.
The colorful ribbon display comes from a tradition at the Senhor do Bonfim church in Brazil, where the ribbons of bright colors, or fitas, are tied around the wrist with three knots. With each knot, a wish is made, and the ribbon is then worn until it falls off of its own accord, at which time the wish is expected to come true.
At the Neuenschwander exhibit at the Carnegie, the wishes are pre-printed on the ribbons as they exist on the wall, and the visitor selects one that applies to them. In return, then, each person who takes a ribbon has the opportunity to write a wish to be printed on ribbons for someone else to make their own.
Perusing hundreds of ribbons to find just the right wish to make provoked quite a bit of thought. Little Miss chose “I wish my drawings could come to life.” (Anyone who’s seen her drawings might be very afraid… I’m not sure we want to confront an angry Pikachu!) Ditto Boy, who seems to fear many things, wished that there would be no more thunderstorms. The Captain, seeking superhero status, wished he could fly.
Not so easy for the adults.
Reading through the small strips, I found many emotions. I had to laugh at the ribbon that read “I wish my life came with a soundtrack.” Some were more practical, like those who wished they could wake up on time each morning, or who wished for better exercise habits. Others were more heartbreaking: “I wish it was benign.” “I wish I could tell my parents I was gay.” “I wish I had the courage to divorce my husband.”
I finally found one to launch creativity, which seemed a good starting place for the New Year. The Cabana Boy found one more appropriate to the trials of raising three kids through tragedy and triumph, and I hope he sees his way clear to the end of that one.
The exhibit is visually delightful as well as emotionally challenging. What power words have, that just by releasing them from that dark inner place inside where we hide all those things we fear to say, that they could escape and change our outlook, our circumstances or our world!
My wish for all of you this year is that you are able to name your wish and set it free–and that it comes true.