For the past two years, I’ve been trying to figure out what I should do for a living. For over 25 years, I have been a college English teacher, something I felt was my calling, and now I’m moving out of this profession as fast as I can. I’ve been wrestling with a variety of ideas as to what to do, and in the fall, I decided to try being whimsical as a way to come up with a new profession. I realized that one of the things I’ve always wanted to do for people (and I’ve even done it on a very small scale with friends, family, and few strangers) is grant wishes.
I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than finding someone who is in despair, who needs little, and being able to turn that person’s whole life around by taking care of the small problem or problems. I say small, because I don’t know how to cure cancer or replace the loss of a parent or friend, but perhaps I could shave away at a debt, pay the fees for a special program, buy books needed for a class. I don’t really have any money right now, which is frustrating, but there are other things I can do.
So, in the fall, when I was reaching for possible jobs, I thought to myself, I could grant wishes. Surely there is a job that does that. And then I remembered how years ago I used to give money to Make A Wish, and I thought, aha! So I did a Google search and discovered there truly is a job called a Wish Co-ordinator.
OK. Let’s be honest. I want to be magic and able to wave a wand, and Make a Wish doesn’t promise that, but I applied to be a volunteer, and went through an intense background check and waited, and finally, in March, I went through a training session. I assumed the training would have few people and be boring. The place was packed (maybe 40 people?), the training was terrific, and I, who am never late, showed up pretty much just in time to be close to the last person to speak. I was to say my name and why I was there. I heard people basically give speeches, and feeling grateful for having missed this (I hate this part of meetings where perfect strangers share information I don’t care about) I said, “I’m Katherine Clark, and I’m here because I want to grant wishes.” There was a long silence (people expected me to keep going), then laughter, then the presenter commented that that was perfect. I smiled and nodded. I had said exactly why I was there and no further explanation was needed.
Besides the fact that I had accidentally wowed the crowd (I really did assume that I would be the 10th person to say this), what I loved about the training was that it did three things for me:
- It introduced me to an impressive and poignant history of Make a Wish, reaffirming my conviction that I was in the right place;
- It showed me that there are many wonderful people in the Cleveland area;
- And it introduced me to a slightly different way of looking at wishes. (I’ll explore this in Part 2 of this blog.)
I’m now waiting to be ready to select the first child or teenager to help with a wish. I hate the sentence I just wrote. It is convoluted and clumsy, but it matches well my psychological state. I love the idea of granting wishes and helping a child, but I’m finding this whole thing perhaps surprisingly emotional difficult.
I’m not sure what I’m afraid of. I know one thing that concerns me is that I will somehow fail and not do the right thing or I’ll say the wrong thing. Or maybe I’ll fail to successfully grant the wish. Or the wrong wish will be asked for and the kid will regret it. Or I won’t be empathetic or compassionate enough to the child and/or family, or I’ll be too entwined in the emotional issues surrounding a life-threatening situation. Sometimes it is very hard to be me. My friend Mark has suggested that he should buy the domain name OverthinkingPh.D.com just for me.
And yes. I know this is not about me. This is about helping a sick child and a struggling family. In other words, I need to use my Army Brat background and suck it up.
OK. Here is my plan: on Wednesday, I will call Make a Wish with some questions that came to me after reading their weekly newsletter last week, and a few that came to me when reading an email from them a few days ago. I will then, based on their answers, look over my materials, and pick a child to help. Knowing me, I’ll probably pick the child who has waited the longest. (This is in fact one of my questions for Make a Wish. I don’t understand why there are children who have been waiting months. There is probably a really good answer, but it troubles me a bit.)
I deliberately wrote this blog post to help give me a push to get moving on this incredibly worthy project. I also wrote it to tell people about how cool a process Make a Wish goes through in order to help children select their wishes. (That latter was actually the initial reason for the post.) In Part 2 of this Make a Wish blog post, I’ll explore the wish process. I think there is something there to help all of us figure out our goals and desires. For this, among so many other things, I am grateful to Make a Wish.