The Book of Wishes

An International Study of Human Desire

Clifford A. Pickover

People on our planet, ages 9 to 90,
describe in their own words
their most intimate wishes and dreams.

"Pickover contemplates realms beyond our known reality." —The New York Times

The Book of Wishes © Cliff Pickover. Do not copy this document.

Note: I am currently seeking to publish this book for broad public consumption with a popular publisher. I welcome suggestions for possible publisher and contact names.

Wish submission page: here.

At the bottom of this page is a biographical sketch of Dr. Cliff Pickover and a list of previous books by the author.

"You are so part of the world
that your slightest action
contributes to its reality.
Your breath changes the atmosphere.

Your encounters with others
alter the fabrics of their lives,

and the lives of those
who come in contact with them."

—Jane Roberts

"No live organism can continue for long
to exist sanely
under conditions of absolute reality.
Even larks and katydids are supposed,
by some, to dream."
—Shirley Jackson

"The future belongs to those who believe
in the beauty of their dreams."
—Eleanor Roosevelt

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Wishing Stone

Chapter 2. Set Your Goals and Make them Happen

Chapter 3. Wishes: Thoughts of the Heart

Chapter 4. Questions

Chapter 5. Who Answered

Chapter 6. Wish Classification

Chapter 7. Some Final Thoughts

Chapter 8. The Wishes - Female

Chapter 9. The Wishes - Male

Appendix 1. A Note on Wishes in History

Appendix 2. Some Closing Quotations

About the Author

Chapter 1. The Wishing Stone

You are walking down a path and come to a colorful stone. As you pick up the stone, you hear a voice, "Squeeze the stone with all your might, and your wishes will be granted. Use the stone as often as you like." You hold the stone in your trembling hand for a few seconds, close your eyes, and make your wishes. What are your wishes?

So began my international wish survey of people ages 9 to 90. Since the dawn of civilization, humans have been fascinated by the notion of wish fulfillment. From mythological genies in bottles offering three wishes, to religious prayers, to witchcraft, to children's whispered entreaties while blowing out candles on a birthday cake, humans are continually wishing, wishing, wishing....

What do people wish for today?

When I was a small child, I often found myself wishing for various physical powers, like those exhibited by such superheroes as the X-men or Superman. I sometimes wondered if I were the only one, but haven't we all wished for a genie in the bottle? How many of us have made a wish while pulling on the wishbone of a chicken or while watching reruns of I Dream of Jeanie?

Since ancient days, people consulted priests, shamans, or other wise men for dream interpretation and wish-fulfilment. More recently, people consult mediums, crystals, UFOs, and an amazing array of New Age paraphernalia. It seems humans have always wished for material possessions and spiritual powers. What is the significance of our specific wishes? How do our wishes changes with age? How do they vary with gender and culture?

I think of "wishing" as part of a whole cultural picture; people's wishes mirror their feelings and position in the rest of society. My experience reading and listening to people's wishes has made me realize that wishes are not casual but rather are rooted in the wisher's present life and concerns. In fact, it seems that wishes often replay people's lives in depth, dredging dreams that are almost subconscious until written down. As you'll see from reading the wishes in this book, a wish can give both literal information and also symbolic information revealing a person's inner world with all its conflicts.

This book lets you keep your finger on the pulse on the world, to eavesdrop into the usually-hidden side of human desire as people express in their own words their inner fears and hopes. I've found the experience of receiving wishes from around the world to be enriching, warming, and enlightening, and, I hope you will share in some of the pleasure.

In more repressed times, the simple act of wishing was the greatest of sins, punishable by everlasting fire in the afterlife or by cruel Inquisition-like punishments in this life. My greatest hope is that this book may play a part in helping the next generation grow up in a world where more wishes come true, where the expression of desire is not a discourageable act but rather viewed as a creative tool and emotional outlet. Since wishes are a barometer of the human condition, our society should devise more open ways of talking about desires that will be positive and constructive.

Chapter 2. Set Your Goals and Make Them Happen

In my own life, I have found that wishing for certain goals to be important. Having always desired to be a writer, I am now the successful author of over a dozen books and the associate editor of various scientific journals. My Internet web site has received thousands of visits a week. Having wished to get an advanced degree from an early age, it took me three years to graduate first in my class in college, and I then quickly obtained a Ph.D. from Yale University. You too can achieve your own goals and dreams.

Imagine a future world where a kindly and wise Goal Giver assigns children fascinating goals that must be achieved in their lifetimes. When you are born, your parents are handed a list with one-hundred goals. Some goals are difficult to achieve (pass a course on differential geometry and topology) while others are simpler (play "Silent Night" on the piano). As a stimulus to a nation's citizenry, if you achieve all 100 goals, there is a reward of one million dollars. What would such a world be like? What are some goals that a Goal Giver should assign? What would a human faced with this list really achieve?

Such an idea is not preposterous; in fact, there is a human today who forced himself to achieve over 100 goals set down on paper in the early years of his life. The man's name is John Goddard. When John was only a teenager, he took out a pencil and paper and made a long list of all the things he wanted to achieve in life. He set down 127 goals. Here is a list of just some of his goals:

Impractical? Not at all. Today John Goddard is in his seventies, and he has accomplished more than 104 of his original 127 goals. He's become one of the most famous explorers in the world. Goddard is the first man in human history to explore the entire length of both the Nile and Congo rivers. His remaining goals are not so easy. He wants to visit the moon and explore the entire Yangtze River in China. He still has not visited all the world's countries, but this goal is almost achieved. He also wishes to live to see the 21st century.

When I read about John Goddard in early high school, I made my own list:

In contrast to the broader selection of wishes in this book, my list and Goddard's are all achievable. Later, you'll get a chance to make a list that includes "impossible" wishes, such as the power of invisibility and reading minds. For now, stop reading for a moment and list five possible goals for yourself. Be both practical and wild:

All the wishes on your list are important. Like Goddard and myself, accomplishing your goals will make you a happier person. Our world needs happy, satisfied, self-assured people to provide humanity with ideas and inspirations.

Chapter 3. Wishes: Thoughts of the Heart

Wishes are visions made solid. Wishes are the wake-up calls of an undying spirit to begin anew. Wishes are portals to the mind and to our future. The twenty-first century is the Century of the Heart; it will be marked by all kinds of experiments—not only with the brain's biology—but also in new ways of promoting self-understanding and emotional growth. The use of wishes may play some small part in this because wishes can both obliterate and illuminate everyday problems of work and human relationships.

This book inspires the formation of therapeutic, educational, philosophical, and social groups in which people come together to discuss wishes. In fact, wishes may play both serious and fun roles in family and community life, in religious organizations, and even in the world of business and government. Student groups might approach wishing-sessions as a game, with a touch of humor as they compare and try to understand the various desires of their peer group. Played with enthusiasm, the wishing game can be a productive work of self-discovery.

Students and educators should discuss the pros and cons of their wishes in the world. For example, what would be the real impact on the world of various ecological or economic wishes? One respondent in The Book of Wishes noted that if you give everyone unlimited money, this would lead to runaway inflation. If you give everyone unlimited energy, this would lead to global warming. Wish, but wish with care.

As we share our wishes, you will find yourself changing your own goals. Think about which would elevate you and humanity. We may begin to understand how our lives are ruled, our energies wasted, and our happiness spoiled by voices from the past whose conditioning is inappropriate to the present. Money isn't everything. Modern industrial psychology suggests that people's motivation in industrial life is not just the wish to earn more money, but rather it heavily depends on personal relationships with others in the work organization.

All of the wishes in this book illustrate one important feature of wishing: they express the thoughts of our heart by dramatizing them, prioritizing them, and sometimes exaggerating them in order to make an emotional point. The woman who wishes her abusive husband dead has not reached the point of actually killing him, but her wish focuses attention on the problem, and by expressing the wish to friends, she may find help. In general, by bringing events to our conscious attention, wishes make us consider the reasons we hold on to unhappy moments of the past. Sometimes the answer is that we are using the past to avoid having to live fully in the present.

Chapter 4. Questions

One respondent in this book said, "I wish I would stop wishing and actually do something." This leads to a good question. I'm sometimes asked whether it could be undesireable to stimulate wishing. Once we have opened the wishing gates, might not our wishes burst forth and overwhelm us or waste our time? Might children and adults be frustrated by expounding unachievable goals? Is the lure of wishing so great that we might be sucked into morbid introspection and neglect our duties in the external world? My answer is that wishing is as dangerous as living—no more, no less—and fears are overrated. Part of our reluctance to disclose our wishes and inner life to our family, friends, and society probably springs from the idea that it is dangerous to probe too deeply into personal matters. However, nothing could be healthier and more uplifting than expressing wishes, and I urge you to keep a wish book or diary to record your thoughts and feelings as you read this book. To make the process fruitful, consider which of your own wishes are actually possible to achieve and what steps are needed to make the wish a reality.

In our complex, busy world, it's easy to lose sight of your visions and inner hopes. Are you doing what you really want to do? Are you merely doing what you've been told to do or what you think you should do? How many of you are living your dreams or have hopes of fulfilling your wishes? What would your life be like if you stumbled upon a "Wishing Stone", and, as a result, your wishes came true and you were doing exactly what you wanted to do and can imagine for yourself? What skills would you develop to help you express your creative abilities? What parts of your life might you wish to forget if you could? What is the greatest achievement you can imagine yourself accomplishing? Who is the greatest person you can imagine being? If your wishes are impossible to achieve, what can you do to at least move your life in the desired direction? Most of us in the West live in a society of the "American Dream"—but where do we learn to live our dream? And what about the heightened sense of honor and duty in Oriental cultures. How does duty and honor affect our dreams?

Chapter 5. Who Answered

I solicited people's wishes on the Internet in an attempt to discover what humans long for as the millennium comes to a close. Obviously, since Internet access is more prevalent among the wealthier and more educated people and countries, this survey underepresents vast divisions of society. In addition, some cultures (particularly Americans) are more open to expressing their inner desires then, let us say, Oriental cultures. As a result of this sampling bias, critics will probably label this book "the wishes of techno-elite Westerners"; nevertheless, wishes came from a wide array of occupations, ages, and areas. A majority of wishers are from the United States with most of the U.S. States represented. Wishes also came from respondents located in countries including: Brazil, Malaysia, India, Sweden, Guatemala, Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Respondents were aged from 9 to 90, with about 55% being men, 45% women. Occupations included: actors, administrators, advertisers, army photographers, artists, art directors, bank workers, billboard painters, child care workers, clothing business entrepreneurs, computer and electronics specialists, costumers, counselors, dog trainers, engineers, family mediators, housewives, game designers, kennel owners, legal professionals, lunch ladies, letter carriers, librarians, managers, marketers, microscope service engineers, medical professionals, martial artists, military professionals, musicians, office mangers, publishers, preschool owners, psychologists, sales people, seamstresses, school administrators, secretaries, security experts; college, high-school, and graduate students; teachers and professors, webmistresses, and writers.

Last names have been omitted to respect the confidentiality of respondents. Despite this anonymity, it is doubtful that the respondents felt free to tell me wishes involving illegal activity or sexual practices, although I was amazed by apparent sincerity of the wishers. As you read, I hope you enjoy the progression of wishers starting from young age to old.

Chapter 6. Wish Classification

Peoples' wishes fell into about 20 categories with the first 10 including most of the wishes (Table 1). The following are some example wishes in each category to give you a feel for the meaning of each category. The categories are sorted from most common wishes ("People") to least common. Naturally, some categories overlap.

1. People - these wishes include the desire to talk to or be with certain people not available due to death or various separations, the happiness of other people, helping other people, hoping other people would use their brains, changes in the attitudes of others, elimination of deafness and disabilities, meeting famous people (Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, Robin Williams, Carl Sagan), desire for famous people to return to life to help the world, punishment of other people, well-being of world's children, people smiling, teaching people lessons of life, better communications between people, improving other people's understanding, desire for the death of drug users or firearm users, end of human suffering, abolition of racism, return of a lost love, education of children around the world, knowing what others think of oneself.

2. Money/Material - these wishes include the desire for wealth for personal use, material possessions, and freedom from debt. The category also includes wishes for money or materials (e.g. cars or computers) that are given to others.

3. Skills/Powers - this category includes desires for various abilities. Chess, communication skills, photographic memories, superpowers, invisibility, telekenesis, power to heal, mind-reading, mind-influencing, omnipotence, flying, running, athletic skills, musical skills, programming skills, painting, photographic memory, creativity, pilot's license, returning to college, teleportation; the desire to feel colors, hear shapes, taste sounds; the desire to be a better teacher, living at the edge of one's capabilities, better memory, talents, language acquisition....

4. Family - these wishes are similar to those in the "People" category but are more oriented to family members. They include topics such as: happiness of one's children, not taking partners for granted, happiness and safety of daughters, closer relationship with a spouse, wishes that parents stop fighting, reuniting parents, health of children, preventing self-destruction of family members (alcoholism, anorexia, high-risk behavior), well-being of parents and grandparents, finding missing relatives, wishing for a baby, wishing that family members are still alive, wishes for changes in spouse's attitudes....

5. Peace - these wishes cover such topics as: ending violence, peace on a personal or global scale, peace of mind, end of fighting with spouse or fiancee, the destruction of nuclear weaponry, and ending violence against women.

6. Spirituality - these wishes often include terms such as "consciousness", "spirituality", "self-realization", "karma," "spiritual love", "romantic love", "goodness", "blessedness", realization of personal powers", "spiritual communion", "soul-mates", "nirvana", a wish that others enjoy the "beauty and mystery" of universe, a high-bandwidth connection to the universe's source of creativity....

7. Knowledge/Intellect - these wishes involve increasing one's intelligence, knowledge, understanding, or wisdom. Also included are desires to understand Einstein's theories, better understanding of life, knowledge and understanding of math and physics, omniscience, a pair of goggles that reveal the world "as she really is", learning secrets and a theory of everything....

8. Personality - these wishes deal with the self, a change in oneself to improve happiness, desires for happiness in general, a wish to love oneself, improvement in one's honesty, self-worth, emotions, bliss, patience and acceptance of self, a sense of purpose, living in present, valuing others without judgment, common sense, alleviation of depression, discipline, awareness, the desire to never conform....

9. Health - the desire for personal health, curing diseases on a global scale, safe and legal abortions, birth control, weight reduction, health of others, curing post traumatic stress disorder, curing AIDS, regeneration of lost limbs and wound repair.

10. Philosophical - these wishes often include interesting logical constructs and often deal with the act of wishing or the wishing stone. Examples: "I wish I had no need to wish," "I wish I knew what to wish for," "I wish for you never to give out any more free wishes," "I wish that after me, the wishing stone would only fall into the hands of those would do good," "I wish that those who wish loudest don't interfere with the wishes of the softest," "I wish I would stop wishing," "I wish I didn't have the stone," "I wish the wishing stones would vanish," "I wish for the stone's power to grant wishes." Other topics: "undo" options so that wishes could be undone, asking "why", paradoxes, and wishing for "the impossible." Many wishes in this category were self-referential, referring back to the wisher, the wishing, or the wishing stone.

11. Occupational - job happiness, desire to become a particular profession, to be a famous composer, job easiness and fulfilment, the desire to find a company that exploits one's ideas, a good job.

12. Geopolitical/Ecological - population control, habitat destruction, nation boundaries, pollution, housing for all in the world, universal language, end to world hunger and famine, rebuilding of rain forests.

13. Travel - traveling through real and imaginary worlds and lands.

14. Immortality - longer lives, living forever, invulnerability, and issues dealing with staying young.

15. Time - operating outside of time, manipulating time (slowing time down, stopping time), wishing for more time, and time travel.

16. Religious - "finding God," "hearing His voice," "understanding His purpose," "being true to God," "having knowledge of God," "experience deep religious ecstasy before Christmas," "to know who created God," "to know which religion is correct."

17. Mate Acquisition - finding a wife or husband, finding a life-long companion, or access to male or female companionship.

18. Sexual - expressions of sexual desires, or desires for a sex change, desire for libido in a partner, the achievement of "unexcelled sexual union with a being of my choice."

19. Pet - well-being of pets, desire for a pet, animal rights.

20. Business - a desire for change in some industry.

21. Fame - to have a name that is never forgotten.

22. Cosmic - first contact with aliens, proving aliens exist

Table 1.  Wish Categorization

                     Male: Female          Under 40: 40 and Above
People                   1: 1.3                    1: 0.5
Money/Material           1: 1.8                    1: 0.4
Skills/Powers            1: 1.1                    1: 0.3
Family/Children          1: 2.0                    1: 1.1
Peace                    1: 1.5                    1: 0.7
Spirituality             1: 0.9                    1: 0.3
Intellect/Knowledge      1: 0.5                    1: 0.2
Personality              1: 2.0                    1: 0.5
Health                   1: 1.7                    1: 1.0
Philosophical            1: 0.4                    1: 0.3
Occupational             1: 1.7                    1: 0.1
Geopolitics/Eco.         1: 2.3                    1: 0.3
Travel                   1: 4.0                    1: 0.1
Time                     1: 1.7                    1: 0.1
Immortality              1: 0.7                    1: 1.0
Religious                1: 0.8                    1: 0.5
Mate acquisition         1: 0.6                    1: 0.1
Sexual                   1: 0.6                    1: 4.0
Pets                     1: 5.0                      -
Business                 1: 1.0                      -
Fame                     1: 1.0                      -
Cosmic                   1: 1.0                      -

Example interpretation: For every one wish in the Pet category made by a male, there were five wishes made by females in this category. "-" symbols indicate that there few or no wishes in these categories by people 40 and above.

As you can see from Table 1, the top five categories dealt with People, Money, Spirituality, Skills, and Family. Before starting this study, I had thought that most people would wish for the impossible, such as immortality or the power to move objects with their mind, but to my surprise the overwhelming majority of wishes fell into achievable and possible goals. (Examples of "possible" wishes include finding a mate, gaining money or fame, or having safe abortions available to the world.) Keep in mind that responses would have been quite different if the survey was given under different conditions. For example, I was surprised how few respondents mentioned religion, asked to meet God, or to know if God exists—but I'm sure I would have received more of these wishes if I handed out a questionnaire while in a church. Here's another example of how wishes could have been biased. If I were to say the word "Claudia Schiffer" or "Brad Pitt" before asking men and women, respectively, to write down their wishes, I suspect the responses would have been quite different.

Here are some other observations. The wishes of female respondent's more often dealt with family than did men's wishes. (As the Table indicates, for every 1 wish made by a male in this category, there were 2 wishes made by females.) Men were more interested in wishes dealing with the intellect and knowledge than women. People younger than 40 were more concerned with jobs, spiritual matters, and desire for power and knowledge, than people older than 40. Women were more interested in pets and animals than men.

Stop and examine Table 1 for yourself. Are there other categories you think should be added to the table? Write two other categories here:

After you read through the wishes at the end of the book, and formulate your own wishes, come back and look at what you just wrote. Do you have more categories or trends to add? Did anyone fall into the categories you added? Do you feel differently about the world?

Chapter 7. Some Final Thoughts

The Book of Wishes raises more questions than it answers. For example, do you think those respondents who wished for unlimited knowledge and power would be happy with the results? What kind of creature would result from such power? What would it be like to exist outside of space and time? Thomas Aquinas believed God to be outside of spacetime and thus capable of seeing all of the universe's objects, past and future, in one blinding instant. An observer existing outside of time, in a region called "hypertime," can see the past and future all at once. What kind of relationship with humans could a creature (or God) have who lives completely outside of time? How could they relate to us in our changing world?

Are there people who don't have any wishes or dreams? If such people exist, what are they like? Are they content, or do they have a tendency to focus on their problems? Are they more inhibited, more conformist, and more self-controlled than people with many creative wishes?

As I have already suggested, many people have a problem discovering and identifying their wishes and aspirations. We are often trained to live according to someone else's idea of what we should be or do. Imagine how art, writing, philosophy, and science would be changed if people never honored their tiny "impossible" thoughts that percolate in their dreams and subconscious minds.

As we grow older, many of us are troubled by a vague sense that we are not the people we really want to be. Yet we don't stop to define who we want to be. We can visualize what makes us unhappy, but we sometimes don't give much thought to what makes us happy! Since the eighth century, Tibetan Buddhists have used lucid dreaming as a path to self-discovery. In lucid dreams, one realizes that a dream is a dream and sometimes one can control the dream. Similarly we might use our wishing to develop a more flexible attitude, a prioritization of our needs, and a way to learn to change ourselves as well.

Your own wishes will certainly change as a result of reading this book. Stop right now and write down your five top wishes:

When you are finished reading through the wishes, come back and write down your five top wishes again:

How do your wishes compare? Why did they change?

I hope others will try to model a world that incorporates as many wishes as possible. Would such a world be more like heaven or hell? How different would this world be than the one we live in? How would children's ideal worlds compare to adults'? What would most people do once they got all their wishes?

Many of us our too shy to express our wishes. So be it. Let's not grow hardened to our own secret wishes. When possible, telling others our wishes provides a clarity and catharsis. Knowing and expressing dreams and wishes is first step to realizing them. Your wishes are your muses, your sources of inspiration. In some cases, they can save marriages when feelings are otherwise not adequately expressed. If children and adults are too afraid to tell others their wishes, whole populations can suffer. In his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. moved an entire nation to aspire to his vision of freedom and equality for all.

Chapter 8. The Wishes - Female

Ages Under 10

Pamela P. is a 9-year-old from Yorktown Heights, New York. "I wish for peace, no guns, no more killing endangered species, no more pollution, and no more tobacco. I also wish for a house of my own where I could be by myself."

Jenna is a 9-year-old from Shrub Oak, New York. "I wish I was an angel. I wish all of the criminals were in jail."

Lauren F. is a 9-year-old from Cortland, New York. "I wish I had 112,000,000,000 dollars. I wish I was the most popular girl."

Jessica is a 9-year-old girl from White Plains, New York. "I wish I had a village to live in."

Amanda F. is a 9-year-old girl from Millwood, New York. "I wish for all the chocolate in the world."

Ages 10-19

Jennifer A. is an 11-year-old from Massapequa Park, New York. She writes, "I'm in sixth grade in Miss Gluck's class, of the John P. McKenna school. I love to horseback ride. My favorite color is purple. I wish to own a wonderful horse named Perfect Gentlemen. The only problem is that he costs $5,000. My parents would buy me the horse if we could find a place with very cheap boarding charges, or if we can buy a house with a big enough backyard. Maybe you might know of a horse stable I can call, or of a person selling their house at a reasonable price with a large backyard. If you know of either, and would like to help out a little eleven-year-old girl please call me on the phone (number deleted), and make sure you ask for JENNIFER."

Zahira S. is an 11-year-old from Johor Bahru, Malaysia. "I have a lot of money and many Internet homepages. I wish for peace—there is too much war going on here. I wish for 10 million dollars (to be the richest), everyone to have a house, supplies for camping, a computer printer, and love for everyone."

Dina R. is a 14-year-old from Rockville, Maryland. "I like mathematics, inexplicable things, and all your popular science and puzzle books. I wish I didn't have to take AP US History. I wish I could manipulate space and time at my will. Then I would make time move nonlinearly, because the sequential stream of time really annoys me. In this way, I'd have all the time I wanted to learn mathematics. I wish I could travel to imaginary worlds, e.g. in books or pictures. I wish I had a pet monster who could project his thoughts as colorful images into the current world. I wish I had a Random Event Generator that could make anything happen at anytime at all. I wish everything had an 'undo' button. If everyone's wishes come true, would that create some kind of a gigantic paradox? It probably would. I wish people would smile more."

Emily F. is a 14-year-old from Galesburg (undisclosed state). "I'm in band and I play the flute. Band is my life. I wish to be able to attend Juliard, because it's the best music school in the world. I also wish that there weren't shop-lifting detectors in almost all the stores. They always go off when I walk through them even though I don't steal anything."

Erin D. is a 16-year-old from Springfield, Illinois. "I like role- playing and reading, especially fantasy stories. I wish for world peace and a world where every human being is sincerely nice to everyone else. I wish for an end to world hunger. Or, more specifically, that all the excess food is used to feed the poor instead of just being put aside. We have more food than we'll ever need. I wish for a Nintendo 64."

Annie S. is a 16-year-old cheerleader from Salem, New Hampshire. "My interests include cheerleading, gymnastics, writing, acting, and modeling. I'm a very stubborn individual with an open heart, but a sensitive personality. My life is filled with problems and mishaps, and I'm usually depressed. I try to cover the pain that sears me, but tears continue to flow. I dream for recognition. My main wish is for the return of a lost love. His name is Robert. Throughout the year and 5 months that we were together, we gave each other the world, but one day the magic died. He too is only 16 years old and I understand his need to see others in his search for the right one. It has been over two months since our breakup, but I am still aching painfully. I cry myself to sleep with his hockey jersey in my arms and his pictures beside my bed and under my pillow. I beg that he learns how to trust me again and realizes that I never lied to him. My love for him will never end and I pray that God or some higher being will help and bring him back to me. I desperately need him and until I find his love again, I won't sleep peacefully. I hope that someone out there will answer my prayers and make my wish come true. For there is no other like Rob..."

Elizabeth S. is a 17-year-old from Greenville, South Carolina. "I like reading, writing, cross-country running, back-packing, animals, traveling, children, and helping others and the environment. I'm applying to the University of California at Davis with possible majors in International Relations, French or French literature, or Russian. I'd love to be a teacher. I'm Catholic and pray every night before bed. I wish for peace on Earth—a peace in which people can accept others' differences, in which people care enough to help one another, and where there is no crime on every other street corner, and people crying over cars in one city and starvation in another. I wish for the world's landmarks to remain as the are; for the rain forests to be rebuilt; for humans to stop polluting our world. I wish for this because I think the world is beautiful and humans are ugly. I wish to travel all over the world, to visit different peoples and cultures as well as different landmarks where I can backpack, mountain climb, and cave. I wish to be in perfect condition to be able to do these things. I love new experiences as well as being an active participant in nature. I wish to be able to speak more than one language fluently so I can speak to other people in their language. I wish for people to be able to communicate and the world to maintain peace and a sense of unity without computers. (I hate technology.) I wish for Jordan to like me and not have a long distance relationship. (I wish this because he was really cute and I really like him, yet he lives in France.) I wish to know which religion is correct because I'm confused, all religions seem correct and I stop believing in God. I wish for life to be simpler, to be allowed to live and enjoy the moment. I wish mermaids existed and I could be one, if only for a day. I wish I can be invisible for one day so that I can see what other people think about me. I wish to be able to fly. I wish for a horse, or, more specifically, a pegasus. I wish to be able to fall asleep within five minutes of wanting to, and to have a deep, dreamless sleep after which I wake up refreshed and able to face a full day. I wish I lived where it snows. I wish to live where the summers aren't as humid, unlike South Carolina where I live. I wish for perfect vision because right now it's -10, and that prevents a lot of fun things—like quickly getting ready for school, bed, or swimming."

Kelly G. is a 17-year-old from Gasport, New York. "I like dragons and swords, music, the fantastic and imaginary, and books (right now I'm reading Stranger in a Strange Land). I wish for a degree of happiness and fulfillment that can only be described as nirvana. I want to shine like the sun and wallow in pleasure. I want my smile to be commonplace. I want to know nothing but happiness and love."

A. is a 17-year-old from Mississippi. "I'm interested in Egyptology, fiction, animated cartoons, scuba diving, and occasional social interaction. I wish I could fight. I wish I could hear movement behind me. I wish I could scent out malevolence. I wish I could use any weapon I wanted, especially my hands. If I could, I would never have to wish for it again. And I could sleep."

Abbey R. is an 18-year-old from Kingston, Pennsylvania. "I live for the outdoors and love all four seasons. I enjoy: horseback riding, hiking, painting, sketching, writing, reading, mountain biking, camping, singing, and most of all walking at night. I love all animals and have a dove, a canary, a finch, a Siamese Fighting fish, and two hamsters. I would have more animals if it were possible. I work at the university's library. Wishing is good because it gives you something for which to go on living. Even if the wish is ludicrous and could never happen you can always dream. I wish that I could keep that wonderful refreshing feeling I get when I take a night walk or climb a mountain. I wish that everything made sense to me. I wish that we weren't born to work. I wish we could all go out and discover the beauty of the world within—in gardening, poetry, running, or painting all day long. I wish that everybody could find a way to make a living doing what they like to do so that they would not become sour. I wish I could figure out what I want to study to become."

Andrea F. is an 18-year-old college student from Louisiana, Missouri. "I am a Math/English major, campus newspaper editor, former cleaning lady, bad typist, and all around cool person. I love to read, play the violin badly, and hate to dance. I intend to be a mathematics professor and publish mathematics books. Be careful, you might get what you wish for. I'm wishing I was either completely alone or very safely and securely attached. I wish my boyfriend had a libido, that I didn't hate my Calculus professor, that I didn't dread going home for Thanksgiving so much, that my term paper about social interactions in barbershops was written and was good. I wish my sister was happier at home alone now, that my mother wasn't so overbearing, that I actually liked my psychology class and that there would be world peace. I wish I didn't have a two-and-a-half hour drive home with people I didn't really like, that I wasn't such a wimp when I wanted something, that I'd done my math homework last night, and that I had gone out and goofed off with Pete before we left for Thanksgiving break. I'm wishing that everything would work out okay... and you know what? Something tells me that it will."

Meg S. is an 18-year-old from an undisclosed location. "I love Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics and also have an extremely creative side because I sing, play the piano, have been doing ballet for 14 years, and love to perform in theater. I wish I knew what people thought of me. For example, do "my friends" really like me or do they just say they do to be nice? I also wish that I knew what I look like. Is the image I see in the mirror completely distorted? How do other people view my physical self? Do they think I'm skinny or healthy or fat? Will they lie because they know me? (I became mildly anorexic throughout my ballet training.) I'll never know for sure if my image is distorted or not. I don't wish for material things because I really don't want or need them. I'd rather be able to say on my dying day that I was happy and fulfilled. The only way that is possible is through love and doing what makes me happy - dancing, singing, and acting."

Laurence C. is a 19-year-old college student from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. "I study biochemistry because I don't really know what I want to do, and I love science, art, and theatre music. I wish to be invisible (so I can see and hear without being seen or heard), to possess telepathic and telekinetic abilities (to be able, at the other's consent, to speak through the mind) to be able to fly, and also take whatever I am touching flying with me (like a friend) to have an endless bank account, so I can start my own theatre company and not worry about living in a slum. I wish to make Alexandre love me again, to meet Robin Williams and Tori Amos, and to ask God, 'Why?'"

Heather J. is 19-year-old college student from Iowa City, Iowa. "I am a Chemical Engineering Major with a long-time interest in fractals. I wish to be satisfied with my life when I'm old. I want to be able to completely live my life and do everything that I've wanted to do. My second wish is to be an astronaut. Flying in space would be an absolute wonder. My third wish is to control time, to stop the clocks every now and then. Control over time would make it easier to appreciate life."

Ages 20-29

Anjie K. is a 20-year-old from Birmingham, England. She is interested in dance and the mantic arts. "I should tell you about a wish box I read about and used when I was younger. You just made a box yourself, and decorated it. You wrote your wishes on a piece of paper and put them in a box. When they came true you burnt the paper and put the ash back in the box to help the other wishes along. I believed in this method which is why it probably worked. I don't own the box anymore but my wish box was a great thing. My wish was for the happiness in love to last. I thought about my present boyfriend and wished for that feeling of love to never leave because relationships are often torn apart due to learned behavior patterns, trying to change each other, and not remembering you fell in love with how they were, not how you would like them to be. I wish we can love ourselves."

Sarah S. is a 22-year-old child-care worker from San Francisco, California. "I am a recent Oberlin graduate, working with 6 year olds. I love to cook, read, watch cartoons, and mother my friends. My favorite pass time is making witty banter with well-referenced sparring partners. Like the song said on and album I had as a kid, 'King Solomon, he didn't pray for wishes, King Solomon, he didn't pray for fame, King Solomon he prayed to get the wisdom which brought him fame and wisdom anyway.' Poor rhyme scheme, but it makes sense. When I'm wiser, I'll know better what to wish for. Right now, using the capabilities I presently have, I'd wish for green eyes. I also wish to know what people really mean when they talk. I wish for the ability to alter how I am seen by others (glamour) and stronger willpower. Wish for too many concrete things (i.e. world peace, riches, everlasting happiness) and it would make life pointless. I just want to have fun with the status quo."

Amy S. is a 20-year-old from Dunedin, New Zealand. "I love animals, music, and writing poetry. I wish that no one in the world ever intentionally hurts anyone else, because people are continually hurting other people… If I wished for eternal happiness for everyone, then no one would probably ever know they were happy because they wouldn't know sadness either. I also wish that all of Richard Bach's theories were true, because his world seems like a nice place to be. Finally, I wish for all the money I'd ever want because as much as I'd like to think that I'm not materialistic, I want to travel to California."

S. H. is a 21-year-old sociology and anthropology student from Johnson City, Tennessee. "I wish for a better understanding of life. I want to understand every single minute aspect of life. I wish to understand why people hurt others even when they don't want to. (Why we can't make ourselves happy; why do we need to 'wish' to be happy; what is it we need?) I wish to know how some people can be oblivious to things that are going on around them, and why the people who do see don't care to say anything about it, or are scared to, or don't know how. I wish to know Everything. Maybe then humans wouldn't be such a mystery."

J. R. S. is a 22-year-old pre-medical student from Oxford, Ohio. "I work as an emergency medical technician and am interested in theatre and music. About a year ago, a good friend of mine froze to death while on a trip to the French Alps. If I had a wish, I would go back in time and make sure that he does not go on such a trip. I would wish for his life back, and I would wish to take away the suffering that he experienced."

Theen-Theen T. is a 22-year-old graduate student from Penang, Malaysia. "I am currently a graduate student in Computer Science at University of Maryland at College Park. I am interested in travelling, dancing, cooking, and reading. I wish I am talented enough to simultaneously pursue various fields in the natural and social sciences. Pursuing knowledge is one of my three quests in life. I wish to experience the world, its nature, and its people. I wish to travel all over the earth, to see all the natural wonders, taste all the food, meet all kinds of people. To fulfill this quest I wish for time, health, energy, and money. I wish there is a universal language that everyone could understand. I wish the best for my friends and family. I hope to find someone to share my life, my ideals, and my love with. Human relationships are the most precious thing on earth. I wish all human beings are loving, understanding, and give each other respect despite differences in race, class, gender, educational background, nationality. The world would be a much better place to live when the lives on it are happy."

Kirsten S. is a 23-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden. "I wish that money wasn't a deciding factor in everything. I wish that food produced could be distributed evenly around the world to everyone, eliminating the needless destruction of food surpluses and the needless death by starvation of countless humans and animals, without worrying about economies. I wish that everyone's basic needs and rights could be met, however poor they are. I wish that research and development could proceed without researchers having to campaign for funding. I wish they could get to Mars without bickering about how much it is going to cost. My most heart-wrenching wish: I wish that animals could be given the same basic rights as human beings, the same protection. We should strongly protect those who are at our mercy and who don't understand our motivations, who endure enormous suffering in some cases. The pain of a beagle in an animal experimentation lab, the terror of a cow at an abbotoir, this is all wrong. It just should not happen. There are those that argue that we can't know that animals know fear and pain. We can't know that they feel contentment, happiness or love. But perception is a private world. We can never know what a horse feels, how a horse perceives the world, any more than I can know how you perceive the world. So if the horse appears to be itchy, I believe we should accept he knows he is itchy. And we should accept that the cow knows the terror, that the beagle knows the pain. And stop the torture. My selfish and personal wish: A three-day weekend. We would all be far happier people with far lower blood pressure if we all had a three-day weekend."

S. P. is a 23-year-old engineering student from Canberra, Australia. "I am studying at the Australian National University, leading a slacker- type of lifestyle. I like drinking, good music, drawing and painting. I really like your web page. I wish I would stop wishing and actually do something. I believe that if you want something then nine times out of ten you can get it, so why don't I go get it instead of just wishing all the time?"

Amy K. is a 24-year-old theatre student from Minneapolis, Minnesota. "I like dance, the Internet, furry animals, and pretty boys, and I hate professional sports. I wish for my dad to acquire the necessary self- knowledge to become a happier person. All his relationships are built on half-truths and mistrust, and he goes through life searching for another affair that will make life worth living. He is the saddest person I know, and I am afraid that someday soon he will just give up and take his leave of this earth that has been such a disappointment to him. I miss him; I love him; I want the weight off his shoulders before it breaks him. I want to become the best I can be in this world. I want to have a life's work that fits me like a glove, so I can leave the world a little better than I found it. (And I was born during the Nixon years, so maybe that's not setting the bar too high.) I wish for peace on earth, a little more love and acceptance, and a little less hate."

Eve M. is a 25-year-old from astronomer from New Zealand. "I'm interested in bio-astronomy, spectroscopy and the universe in general. I wish to be happy and caring, to try and prove that aliens exist, to love my family and take care of them, and to have enough money so that I don't have to worry about money.

Maggy W. is a 25-year-old college student from Shickshinny, Pennsylvania. "I am a full-time student preparing to transfer into Mansfield University's Sociology/Anthropology program. My interests are Frida Kahlo's artwork, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, dancing, painting, and the sculpture of Camille Claudel. I wish for: a cure for AIDS, safe and accessible abortions, being allowed to choose without added pressures, a complete end to the Religious Right of America, illegalization of fundamental Christianity, complete, intelligent sex education in our schools, a good job waiting for me when I graduate college (teaching Anthropology at a University), being able to travel every summer, children, meeting and being able to have just one conversation with Dr. Carl Sagan, an end to the fighting between myself and my fiancee, just one more day with my grandmother who died two years ago, hearing my father say 'I love you,' and, finally, I wish to get my pilot's license."

Susan P. is a 26-year-old from Allston, Massachusetts. "I just reread a classic of children's literature, Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit which describes five children and a sandfairy that gives them wishes, but all the wishes seem to turn out wrong. I wish my job paid $5000 more a year than it does. I'm in publishing, which should explain it all. I'm 26 and I can't afford to live without a roommate and I find that somewhat depressing. I can't pay for therapy without sacrificing luxuries like food and phone calls to my parents. I wish all museums were free to the public and well funded. I wish mega-corporation bookstores would stop squeezing out the little independent bookstores. I wish Boston had good public transportation that ran all night. I wish abortion was safe and legal for everyone. I wish for less violence against women. I wish my sister and my parents will always be healthy and happy. I wish I were more creative. I wish I could fly, just for one day, without wings, or teleport at will to anywhere in the world. I would spend the day with my friend Stacy in Minneapolis or with my friend Jad in Colorado, and then teleport back home. I wish I had known my grandfather better."

Erica C. is a 26-year-old from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. "I wish that people would teach their children to have respect for other people. Teach children that abuse, rape, and violence is wrong and not to be tolerated. I wish people would teach their children to defend themselves against bad people who want to hurt them. I wish people would understand that women have brains and talent. I wish people would understand that a person of any ethnic or racial origin has brains and talent. I dislike all forms of discrimination. I wish people would be kind to each other."

Mel is a 27-year-old college student from Atlanta, Georgia. "I am a college washout, an artist, a science buff, a Christian, a dreamer and a geek. I enjoy computer graphics, acting, dinosaurs, and gaming. I have never held a paying job, but I hope to soon. If a wishing stone started talking to me, I wouldn't be inclined to trust that voice. But, if I did trust that voice I would wish that no one would ever be an innocent victim, save that it be in a way most minor. I would wish for the superpowers that I have in my dreams. And I would wish that my friends, and, maybe everybody, would know the most important things, the truth that I know. I pray for that often. Perhaps I wouldn't need to wish it after all. I wish that after me, the wishing stone would only fall into the hands of those who would do good."

A. Fincke is a 28-year-old artist from Madison, Wisconsin. "I wish for prosperity and health for my partner, friends, family, and myself. For everyone. I wish for enough money to be as generous as I'd like to be. I would like my contribution to the world to be great and of help to others."

Michelle K. is a 28-year-old from Middletown, New Jersey. "I wish for another baby. My son is 9 years old now but I would like to have another. I am not infertile but finding the time to be pregnant would be difficult with my job situation."

Laura R. is a 29-year-old librarian from Alexandria, Virginia. "Not only am I an MLS degreed librarian, but I also have 28 hours of graduate study in Applied Anthropology/Archaeology. My nonworking hours are entirely taken up with training my two Australian Shepherds for competition. I wish for life-long health, happiness and prosperity. I guess that translates into winning the lottery and buying a large farm so that I can take in unwanted/abandoned Australian Shepherds and train them for use as assistance, guide, and therapy dogs—anything that can give them a purpose in life."

Ages 30-39

Kris B. is a 30-year-old writer and musician from Des Moines, Iowa. "I wish I had enough money to own a beautiful home in the woods, with all of the amenities, so that I could stay home all day, write, play music, garden, and be creative. So far, I have almost always received everything I have wished for—professionally speaking. I wished to become a college level instructor, and I have achieved that goal. But because teaching is time-consuming, I have neither the time nor the resources to do the things which really make me happy: writing and creating music. As an educator, it is almost impossible to make the kind of money and reserve the kind of time I need to really be a productive artist. When I was a student my wishes seemed attainable, because I could translate them into goals. Now all of my wishes seem unattainable, because they center on money and opportunity. I wish my boyfriend could get half-time custody of his children so that he would be happier and wouldn't have to pay so much child support.

Danielle G. is a 30-year-old artist, designer and writer from Palo Alto, California. She enjoys reading, dancing, figure skating, learning, creating, math, science, people, animals, and healing. "My wish: to maintain a centered state of spirituality within myself."

L. M. is a 30-year-old from Waltham, Massachusetts. "I'm recently engaged and wish for a happy marriage. I wish Boston and San Diego were 10 miles apart so I wasn't so far from my family (in San Diego). I wish for enlightenment for both myself and fiancee so we know what we want to be when we grow up."

Sharon E. is a 31-year-old librarian from St. Louis, Missouri. "I work as a librarian in a university library, developing the English literature collection and working at the reference desk. I was married 2 months ago to a graduate student in Chinese literature. I like to read, garden, ride my bicycle, cook, and hike in the woods. I wish for a small home near the Atlantic ocean. I wish for a good teaching job for my husband when he gets his Ph.D. I wish for a healthy baby in a few years. I wish to work for my community someday—to improve the environment or people's lives. I wish to master government publications so I can help people more effectively at the reference desk. I wish for a good home for our two cats, whom we have to give away because I am allergic to them."

Cheryl T. is a 31-year-old college student from Wellsburg, West Virginia. "I am a student at West Virginia University studying Technology Education at the Masters Level. I have traveled throughout the U.S., and I have been out of college for sometime and have finally returned. One wish accomplished. I also wish to receive my doctorate and teach at the university level. This has always been a dream of mine but being among the first generation in my family to graduate or even attend college it has always seemed like a distant dream. I wish to become disciplined and more aware of myself, to pay more attention to me, and to see the world. I have always loved to travel and explore. I believe this is my spirit. I wish to never conform. I like being different."

Helen Z. is a 33-year-old computer programmer from Jerusalem, Israel. "I am an introvert who loves science fiction and cats but hates children and religion freaks. My ultimate dream is to live in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (as alpha or beta). If the genie in the wishing stone can't cope with the imaginary worlds, then I wish a complete personality change in any direction which will make me happy in the environment where I live."

Diane D. is a 34-year-old owner of a boarding kennel from Kitimat, Canada. "I love playing games, riding my horse, reading, and television. I wish for peace and quiet (not much of that in a boarding kennel), that people would really stop and use their brains more often (including myself), and be honest, and I wish for enough money so I don't have to keep worrying about it."

Mickie V. is a 35-year-old computer consultant from Cincinnati, Ohio. "I am a divorced mom whose hobbies are computers, reading, and being with friends. My first wish is that my children grow up to be happy, strong, self-sufficient adults. My second is to live a happy life, to be satisfied with what I have and to never take my partner for granted. And my third wish would always be for three more wishes."

Erika G. is a 35-year-old freelance art director from Chicago, Illinois. "I'm obsessed with the Internet. My interests include voracious reading, photography, design, sewing, my pet Dutch rabbits, and redesigning the interior of my condo. I love to travel and have been to Europe three times. I wish for happiness. I wish for someone (boyfriend/fiancee/lover?) to love me without squelching me. I wish for more intelligence. I wish for more friends, and the ability to continue my obsession with international travel."

Erica is a 36-year-old seamstress, period costumer, secretary, and webmistress from Austin, Texas. "I wish for greater realization of my own personal power, my own house to decorate and make a home, someone to share it with, and freedom from debt.

J. J. is a 36-year-old psychologist from Australia. "I have applied for a job that will mean a career change for me. I have been trying to make a shift into this field for some time now. I want this job very much and feel that if I don't get it this time I will be too old to apply in the future."

Marlene E. is a 36-year-old mother of two from New Kensington, Pennsylvania. "I never married for unclear reasons. I truly love the feeling of total independence. My hobbies outside of my undying love for my computer, are reading, sewing, spirituality, learning, and teaching others. I yearn for conversations with those on my equal plane. I love unusual puzzles. I wish for wisdom, not just intelligence, but true wisdom. Therein would lay all the riches a man could ever desire. To know right from wrong is simply not enough. To understand why we choose right or wrong would be a life's work in itself. 'Wisdom' is such a small word, yet so utterly grand in meaning."

Alice K. is a 36-year-old from Columbus, Ohio. "I am interested in the world wide web, the X-files, and fractals. I wish for absolute, instant, and correct knowledge of what does and does not exist, for example, God, UFOs, life after death, anything that cannot currently be "proven". I also wish for absolute self- knowledge, such as what my actual limitations are. Then I would wish for the wisdom and enlightenment necessary to both live in relative peace with the information I've been given, because going insane is not high on my list. I would teach whatever is needed and wanted by others, if that is the wise thing to do. Wishes that are far more mundane spring to mind, but if the wishes I've described were granted me, the mundane wishes would cease to have any importance and I would no longer desire them, thus there is no need to list even one of them. Wisdom, truth and knowledge—that's what I want. I would only change me, because only a fool or God would wish to change the whole world. I wouldn't wish for knowledge of the future. I want knowledge, but not Godhood, so any change made outside myself could be unpredictably disastrous. For all I know, the world is just exactly as it's supposed to be. Possibly I am, too. Too bad the wishing stone is only theoretical!"

Paula G. is a 37-year-old computer programmer from Hyde Park, New York. "I play fantasy role-playing games, and enjoy sewing crafts, science fiction, fantasy, paleontology, and raising pet hedgehogs. I wish for better health for my son who has food intolerances and gastronomic problems, and better health for my husband who has insomnia and other stress-related problems. I wish for an improvement in the happiness of my marriage, which is going through a slight slump right now although it's still a good relationship. I wish for our computer to be properly fixed. I wish for the contractor to suddenly find time to fix our chimney chase. I wish to win the $15,000 my father-in-law wants for a down payment on a condo in Florida so he can afford his monthly expenses. I wish for my husband to find time to go to the travel agent today to arrange our post-Christmas vacation. I wish that I had in my hand the catalog I was supposed to bring to work today to order my son's Christmas present. I wish for a referral to a reliable maid who will clean our house at an affordable price. I wish for peace on Earth—corny and perhaps impossible, but there are so many people who are suffering and dieing each day that I can't help including it. I wish for improved tolerance and understanding for people who are different, by everyone including myself. It seems like so many of our problems are based on racial, religious, cultural, sexual, and personal style differences. I don't want those differences to be erased, I just want us all to deal with them more calmly and empathetically. I wish for the ability to handle the new job I am beginning this week with competence. I wish for a self-cleaning hedgehog cage. The cage should also be temperature- controlled to prevent hibernation yet allow us to turn down the heat in the house at night. I wish to be healed of all my respiratory allergies to pets and dust. I wish for good ideas for Christmas gifts this year, which will bring joy to the recipients, be affordable, and not impact our environment too negatively. I wish for safety in the woods this hunting season for all hunters and for all innocent people that want to go for walks, etc. I wish for some venison. I wish that the Unitarian church we just began attending will appeal to all of us, sensibly address the questions my son has about God and religion, entice my husband the agnostic into attending, bring me closer to an understanding of my own feelings, and involve us in a caring community which encourages us to get involved and help others. I wish that the gifts I am able to give to charities are well-chosen to do the most good they can. It's so hard to turn down organizations that sound worthwhile, or to know whether I'm choosing the most effective or important ones. I wish to develop a close friend nearby because one of my best friends moved away."

Diana C. is a 38-year-old housewife from Bakersfield, California. She writes, "Life was good as a mom until I got bored. Now I juggle momness with studies as a re-entry college student in math and computer science. I enjoy weightlifting, running, cooking, clothes, traveling, Pete's Wicked Red ale, dark green colors, Siamese cats… My favorite author is Isaac Asimov. My favorite book is City by Clifford Simak. I recently read all of Anne Rice's Vampire novels and grew tired of them. Until returning to school this fall, I have been a full time mom and housewife for 15 years. This has been a varied and interesting occupation, but I am ready for a major change now that the kids are growing up. Here are my wishes. I wish I could talk to Pat again. I wish I could go to England to see Claire. I wish I felt beautiful again. I wish all the Mexicans would speak English. I wish people wouldn't throw their trash about. I wish it would rain more. I wish for my children to be happy. I wish my lilies would bloom."

Laura P. is a 39-year-old from Richfield, Minnesota. "After recently dropping out of corporate America beat-up yet hopeful, I am currently self-employed. I'm in 'transition.' Who asked, 'It is not enough to be busy, the question is 'What are we busy about?' I'm struggling to keep a step ahead of my bills while I try to learn this life's lessons well enough that I don't have to repeat any courses my next time through. I wish for world peace which can only be achieved when every person has gained inner peace. Inner peace can only be achieved when every person lives surrounded by a higher love which can only be achieved when every person opens their hearts to their own ability to love. Some might say that it's the struggle that keeps people striving forward, but I think that the 'struggle' might limit our ability to see our 'true' potential. A world in which every person feels at peace and complete would be my ultimate wish."

Ages 40-49

Debra C. is a 40-year-old elementary school "lunch lady" from Sebring, Ohio. "I live with one husband, one kid and five cats. My big dream is to run away with Peter Gabriel and never have to serve hamburger gravy and mashed potatoes again. I wish my beautiful daughter would quit committing slow suicide with anorexia."

E. W. is a 41-year-old computer operator from Pace, Florida. "I am fascinated by art, electronics, mysteries, puzzles, and spirituality. I work as a computer operator and I have a degree in computer programming. I enjoy traveling and learning new things as long as there is no pressure to make a grade. I wish for a greater understanding of God's purpose for my life. To be able to hear His voice as clear as those around me. I would like to be able to provide a comfortable retirement for my mother and to build a nice home for her which would be close by. I wish to have a nice home for my family and a lot of land with trees so I could keep the trees. I wish I had an income without having to spend so much time to get it. Winning the lottery would be nice. I wish I would be able to be thin without having to constantly struggle with weight loss. I wish for knowledge for my children, and myself, to be able to learn and understand without the struggle. I wish for my children to be safe, happy, and to find the perfect companion for their journey through this world. I wish to be able to paint beautiful pictures. And lastly I pray that my children will always remain true to God."

K. W. is a 42-year-old from Columbus, Ohio. "I have a B.S. from Ohio State University in Family Relations and am one-half Greek, one-eight Cherokee, and the rest Irish. I enjoy gardening, piano, and genealogy. A while ago we befriended a high school classmate of our son. The boy's mother was killed when he was 6. He now lives with relatives due to many unfortunate circumstances. I gave birth to one son, but I have 2 boys living in my heart. This young man and I adopted each other. I attended all his school functions, athletic events, etc. just like my own son's. His relatives forbid any contact with me or my husband or son; they will send him away from Columbus if he does. Jealous? They believe our involvement in his life is sick and demented. I haven't seen the boy for 6 months. My wish would take a miracle. I wish he had free access to our home. I wish I could go to his games, matches, shows etc. My heart is shattered like a pane of glass. He'll be 16 soon, but 18 is a life time away."

Tatiana D. is a 42-year-old former Army Ordnance officer from Vienna, Virginia. "I now surf the web for science site for kids as expiation. Recently, the body of a little girl, missing 10 days, was discovered, floating in a local river. My wish is one as old as time. My wish is that every child grows up safe, warm, and loved."

R. M. is a 44-year-old graphic artist from Fort Montgomery, New York. "Solving the circuitry puzzle on your web page granted me a wish I didn't even know I wanted. This little stone of achievement worked as a fulcrum to help alleviate a mountain of depression that I had been experiencing about myself and my abilities, which I had believed to be deteriorating. The truth was, I had stopped believing in them, so they ceased to exist. The results of a small wish can outstrip that of a big one."

Marilyn C. is a 44-year-old preschool owner from Provo, Utah. "I am interested in Danish genealogy, science fiction, family, arts of all kinds, anthropology, family science, psychology, humor, and informally entertaining. I became a first-time grandmother this month, graduated with BS in Family Science in 1989, 19 years after high school graduation. I have worked as a outside-sales person, preschool owner and teacher, 5th grade teacher's assistant, farmer, video-store owner/manager, and secretary. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am a single parent for the last 5 years and for several years before that. (Brief stint at another marriage didn't work.) I wish for world peace and safety for all the world's children (from hunger, cold, neglect and abuse, but especially from war). I wish that my children and grandchildren grow up to be healthy, happy, contributing members of the human family. I wish for a soul-mate of a husband for me. I wish to have independent income so I could study what I wanted and make a contribution to the world. I wish for a modest, paid-for home, appliances and cars that always worked and never needed repair, three best friends within 15 miles of me, good health without exercise. I wish to overcome my phobia of water. I wish for food replicators such as those on Star Trek the Next Generation, for a complete end to pornography of all sorts (but especially child porn), swift (within 3 months) trials and prosecution of criminals, castration of convicted rapists, capital punishment for convicted murderers, severe, harsh, and long-lasting punishment for convicted child abusers, severe penalties for drunk driving, an end to government waste, and honesty, decency, and kindness everywhere to be more common than tulips in Holland on a spring day. I'd like to be stronger. I need to stand up for myself and my loved ones better. I wish I didn't need to sleep, so I could get more done, learn more, help others better. I wish for better health and for a society that wasn't so materialistic or that didn't worship youth to the exclusion of wisdom. I wish for better training (and higher priority on "doing it right the first time") in mate selection, so divorce would be extremely rare. I believe that the world would be a vastly better place if our children started out in secure environments. People are ultimately what matters most to me, and relationships are the primary subcategory."

Kitty W. is a 44-year-old writer from Manakin-Sabot, Virgina. "I want money, success, perfect physical, mental and emotional fitness, and freedom from uncertainty—but I hesitate to wish for any of them. I grew up reading fairy tales in which wishes backfired on the wisher and caused distress or worse. There is much truth in those stories. I see so many people who have some or all of these things and seem to be perfectly miserable. If I had wishes and knew they would come true, I would wish for joy, love and a sense of purpose for myself and those whom I love."

Vanessa V. is a 44-year-old artist from Woodland, California. "I was a teen in the 60's and enjoyed Woodstock, drugs, and free love. I started doing portraits, professionally, when I was 15 during summers in Atlantic City. I knew I wanted to be an artist, and thought college wasn't necessary, and I didn't want it to interfere with my creativity. I did portraits to earn a living and my own art at night until 1981. There was a recession and I had a toothache and no insurance. I got a temp job working in a bank, filing papers in numerical order. I did it so well that 11 years later I was an assistant vice president at the second largest bank in the country, traveling across the country, representing the bank as a computer analyst, making decisions that affected hundreds of people and earning good money. I worked 80-hour weeks: no social life, no art. My boss and mentor was the only person who mattered to me. He determined my worth. I wasn't doing a job. I was the job. The last thing that he would say to me would determine how I felt about myself until he spoke again. One day, he decided not to speak to me anymore. He wouldn't tell me why. I thought that I had disappeared. After six months of this torture, I bought a gun. I was going to kill myself because I couldn't go to work anymore and I couldn't not go. I saw a psychologist during this time, and after 4 years on medication and therapy and 4 stays in psych wards, and several suicide attempts (one where I took 120 xanax at my desk at work and left on a stretcher), I, now, am starting to believe that there are things in life that I enjoy. I have a fiancee. Last year, he said that he loved me. It was the first time I had ever heard 'I love you' from a man that I wasn't having sex with at the time. We rented a house (another first) and I finally have a dog that I love more than I ever expected. I attribute this success to my doctor. I was very lucky. I also paint ceramics and do gardening. Thank you for letting me vent. You look like a professor that I knew 20 years ago and some of the things that you quoted or said on your web page made me want to tell you all of this. Finally, my wishes. I wish for continuous peace of mind. I wish for peace of mind for my fiancee. I wish that I could create everything in my mind."

Lynne E. is a 44-year-old billboard painter, advertising and graphics designer, and "antique store slave" from Greensboro, North Carolina. "My interests are reading, photography, art, computer art, fractals, gardening, and giving the native 'silk' moths a helping hand in replenishing their populations. I have a disability now. I volunteer at a local college radio station. I wish for everyone to realize they are all factions of the creator and to realize that the world is actually a part of themselves and stop destroying it in the name of 'progress'. I wish people accept one another as they are, and cherish the uniqueness of people they meet in their journey through this life and the ones to come. I wish for a safe cure for AIDS. Why such wishes? I was raised by 'pagans' (actually pre-religion native Europeans). My wish for a safe cure for AIDS comes from involvement in the tainted factor scandal in the hemophilia community. My husband is a hemophiliac, one of the lucky ones who did not get a 'loaded' bottle, but many of his friends did, and seeing so many of the hemophilia community sick or pass on has influenced our lives considerably. I am an activist, helping to bring forth a settlement with the responsible pharmaceutical companies, and also 'bothering' our government to bring the FDA to the floor via some legislation. The monetary compensation from both sources would not replace the lives that have been lost or ruined, but it would help eliminate the outright poverty most of these people have to live with. How many Einsteins, Davincis, etc. have we lost? Sadly, the United States is late in settling these issues. (Consider the recent settlement in Japan for hemophiliacs.) It is a shame we cannot rewind the tape, as we do on our VCR, and start the movie all over again and edit the tape with answers when it gets to the part where things went wrong."

Jo W. is a 45-year-old administrator from Indianapolis, Indiana. "I am married for 18 years and a mother of two children. I am employed by a state government regulatory agency as an Administrative Director which means I assist the agency head in the administrative function of the office. I enjoy helping others make decisions. I like to mind my own business and resent others interfering in mine. I like drama, dance, music and writing. I like designing costumes and props. I wish that I could be financially independent so that money worries didn't take up so much of my energy. Then I would be able to give my children what they want, let my husband go into a business he enjoys, and I could travel and tan on warm, sandy beaches. I wish I could ride a horse on the beach. I wish I could have a personal trainer and time to train and eat right so that at 45 I would look and feel like I did when I was 20, but would be much smarter than I was then. I wish I could sing and dance and perform in theater. I wish I could be happy, and carefree, and laugh and love."

Suzy J. is a 46-year-old from Felton, Pennsylvania. "My interests include reading, writing, computers, travel. I wish that my children could find fulfillment in their lives."

Laura I. is a 46-year-old from West Valley, Utah. "I'm interested in photography, computers, web surfing, people, painting ceramics, and collecting unicorns and angels. I used to work Napa, a large corporation, in their accounts payables office. But after getting breast cancer they fired me—nice people. I was doing data entry from my home PC until I found out my cancer had metastized to my bones. Now I'm working at saving my life. After I've done that I hope to start my own business with a little help from my web site… I wish for a miracle cure for all disease. I wish that all people be awakened to the source and oneness of the universe and God. I wish that all people would learn to love one another and quit doing harm to one another. I wish I knew how the applet on your web page works. Most people don't take the time to smell the roses, and they spend too much time worrying about the small stuff."

Marilyn Q. is a 48-year-old teacher from Shawville, Quebec, Canada who is "addicted" to her computer and the Internet. "I wish to win at least $1,000,000.00 as soon as possible."

Lori U. is a 45-year-old computer systems administrator from Sherman Oaks, California. "I am a computer geek and UNIX/Network systems administrator. I like movies, outdoors, the beach, music, shopping, and women. I'm a woman who happens to be a male-to-female transsexual. I have a dead serious wish; I hope it's not too much for you! A transsexual's dream.... As long as I can remember I've always wished that I could be a female. There hasn't been a night in my life that I haven't gone to bed wishing that I would wake up as a beautiful female. Living my previous 40 years as a man, I've always viewed woman with the utmost admiration and always found myself wishing I could be one of them. I started a gender reassignment program almost five yeas ago. I've been living as a woman ever since. Most of my wishes are related to this primary wish. For example, I wish I had money to finish the procedure, for cosmetic surgery, breast implants, clothes, etc. I also wish I were a successful business woman. I wish I have enough money to make sure my 14-year-old daughter will live a comfortable life and have everything she needs. I wish I could live a longer life."

Joanne P. is a 46-year-old computer security expert from La Honda, California. "I am a Beatlemaniac and Deadhead with a degree in studio art and an MBA. I work in computer center doing computer security, disaster recovery, audits, etc. I wish for world peace: an end to bombs, killing, war, spying, hatred. Tolerance! I wish people would love their fellow man—and woman, and minorities, and gays, and..... I wish for financial solvency for my family, and maybe a little extra so I can have a bigger house to fill up with junk. I wish for a long, fruitful, and happy life for myself, my loved ones, and you too."

Gail P. is a 47-year-old from New York, New York. "I think I am a distant relative of yours. My grandparents were the late Isidore and Ethel Pickover of Manhattan and then of the Bronx. I wish I could connect the family tree. I wish to find out if there are any relatives out there I do not know about. When I was growing up there were very few Pickovers. Now I find 26 Pickovers in the USA Telephone Guide in Netscape. I wish to find out if we are related."

Rosalie B. is a 47-year-old systems-applications expert from an undisclosed location. "I have worked for the same company for 25 years. I love fantasy books and art fantasy books. Favorite authors are J. R. Toklein and James C. Christensen. I wish to visit Egypt and Africa and various ancient ruins. I wish the removal of the HIV virus for all time because too many friends and love ones have left. I wish the health and well being of all my children. I wish for a job that I really love because mine is merging with another and quite a few of us will not have jobs by middle of next year. I have worked for the company 25 years, and job comfortability is now very important wherever I will next work. My goal is to leave at the end of the day feeling I have done a good job and helped someone."

Barb P. is a 47-year-old from Romney, West Virginia. "I take care of my father who has Alzheimer's, a husband who is a workaholic, and 6 cats, 2 dogs, and a huge house, and I play with the Internet and computer games. I wish to find a cure for Alzheimer's before I lose my father to this disease for which there is no hope at the present. I wish to have a car of my own, to return to college to study medicine and have a job outside my home after my father has passed on. I wish to be able to talk to my mother again. I wish to learn just enough in my life to be happy and show other that the happiness is from within and not from 'things' or other people."

Ages 50-59

Egg P. is a 52-year-old from Mississippi. "I love flowers. I wish for happiness for someone I will identify as 'B. S.'. I wish for a true love for my son and my daughter, patience and acceptance for myself, and the abolishment of racism."

Penny H. is a 52-year-old computer programmer from San Francisco, California. "I am an aging 60s hippie, techno-nerd, astrologer, crystal healer, and medicine woman. I make my living doing computer programming now, and I plan to move primarily into healing work. I wish for peace with love for all of the beings of our planet as well as peace with all of the universe."

Susan B. is a 52-year-old Associate Professor of Art. "I am interested in scientific reading, thinking, and creating (that is, 'discovering' since I don't believe in concept of 'creativity'). I am most proud of an art installation called "The Goddess Namagiri Moved Through Ramanujan" which consists of three-dimensional representations of a barely visible barrier penetrated by unknown forces. This is one of a series of projects in 'creative' thinking initially designed for students at the college where I have taught for 31 years. I wish to be a master of all current knowledge and understanding of mathematics and physics because I enjoy playing with relationships between these subjects and art. However, to have access to all knowledge of all things would eliminate the one faculty which I prize above all others—curiosity. This happens to also be the primary reason that I am an atheist. I would hate to believe that any entity would be incapable of experiencing wonder. If I am wrong, I sincerely pity "god". My second wish is to be a true synesthete. I'd like to feel colors, to hear shapes, and to taste sounds, because I believe that the greatest enlightenment comes, not from analysis, but from synthesis. I wish to be a better teacher, to be able to transmit the joy of "seeking" to each of my students. Because I believe that, beyond the necessities of life such as adequate food and shelter, the only requirement for fulfillment as a human being is the capacity to experience the joy of discovery and the knowledge that this is perhaps the only constantly replenishable resource of our species on this planet."

Susan K. is a 54-year-old from Manor, Texas. Her hobbies include amateur radio, gardening, knitting, and correcting grammar errors in other people's writing. "I wish for good health and painless death, eventually, for my elderly mother and mother-in-law. They are each terrified of nursing home neglect, painful old age, senility, Alzheimers, etc. I wish them each grace, peace and comfort. I'm not trying to hurry them out of life, I want them to have peace along the journey. I wish for a happy future for my granddaughter. She's fatherless; her mother is immature, feckless, fetid, and fecund. The child deserves better parents. I wish for affordable retirement. We've worked for many years. We'd like some time to relax between worrying about the first two wishes. Finally, I wish travel for me and for my husband."

Barbara B. is a 54-year-old artist from Boulder, Colorado. "I'm a one- person Department of Communications in the Bursar's Office at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I do our web page, publications, and e-mail correspondence. I'm an artist doing mostly commissioned portraits of animals and people. Creativity is a very important aspect of my life. Other people's art is a great source of energy and inspiration to me. I'm intent on treading as lightly as possible on this earth (by 'consuming' wisely, recycling, etc.) I wish to be a great role-model for my 5 year old granddaughter. I'm about to turn 55 and plan to celebrate! I love the idea of being 55. It's a freeing feeling! I'll continue evolving, I hope, for ever! I believe this life is made up of lessons that we choose to learn or ignore. I'm at a place in my life where my lessons are becoming pretty clear, so my wishes relate to easing the path I'm on—not taking away the lessons, but allowing for some freedom. First, I wish for enough financial security that my family and I will never have to worry about finances again! A big part of this security involves providing education and care for my 10-year-old granddaughter who is autistic. Selfish things would include redoing my house and yard just the way I would like it. Financial security would provide the means to support social and environmental causes. I would own a wonderful adobe home in New Mexico! I also wish for a physically healthy and fit body, the ability to always be in the moment, and to feel joy often. I would like this to be bottled so I could give it to my sons, other family members, and friends."

Carolyn Z. is a 55-year-old from Danville, Illinois. "I wish for whatever comes next, as well as common sense, and good memory. Experience has hopefully taught me something. And most of all I wish for humor and a healthy attitude. Some of the best opportunities I have had come from situations for which I certainly would never have wished. I am writing my life history, for my use only, and just starting to realize what a wonderful life I've had. While I wouldn't want to live it over exactly the same way, I'm glad I lived it once. I've never been bored. I look forward to being a curmongon (or curomogonette) for quite a few years to come. I have my own positive meaning for the word. Life's too important to be taken seriously. I don't make wishes for others; they can get in trouble all by themselves."

Above 60

Kari R. is a 65-year-old retired management law-firm consultant from Australia. "I am a recent widow with interests in bridge, computers, inventing new age sciences, breeding Shih Tzus, reading palms, tarot, and public speaking. I wish for the return to the world of this centuries' great men, young again and able to do for the next century what they did for this one. I nominate Bucky Fuller, George Bernard Shaw, Robert Hutchins and Herbert Hoover."

Ruth R. is a 90-year old retired school teacher from Minnesota. "Something frightening is happening to the frogs in south-central Minnesota. They are born with missing legs, withered arms, and shrunken eyes. I wish to know what this all means. Does it mean the water supply is dangerous for people?"

Chapter 9. The Wishes - Male

Ages Under 10

Alan P. is a 9-year-old from Yorktown Heights, New York. "I'm interested in video games and basketball. I wish for a quintillion dollars. I wish I was the healthiest boy in the world. I wish I was the smartest person in the world. I wish I was the fastest runner in the world and the best at sports. I wish I had magical powers so I could turn anybody into anything, and so I could shoot fire out of my hands."

Ben is a 9-year-old from Peekskill, New York. "I wish for my own jet-powered train, a personal body guard, peace, and I wish that everyone has enough money to buy a home."

Adam C. is a 9-year-old from Millwood, New York. "I wish for Christmas every day."

Ages 10-19

Dan D. is a 13-year-old from Adrian (state not specified). "I love playing with clay. My wish is to be a clay thing that can do anything!"

D. W. is a 15-year-old high school student from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "I swim competitively. I like computers. I belong to an elite clique of nerds at my high school, and in by spare time, I like to stare at cracks in the wall and wonder how they got there. I wish I could manipulate people's bodies and minds to make them do whatever I please or make them believe whatever I please, or make them even see whatever I please. Please?"

Tom F. is a 15-year-old from Broadalbin, New York. "I'm quite a bit smarter than most kids, but other than that, I'm just an ordinary, run of the mill teenager. I wish I could do anything."

Ryan B. is a 15-year-old from Mill Hall, Pennsylvania. "I am interested in the paranormal, parapsychology, and art. I wish for powers of telepathy, psychokenisis, and magic because they would better my life and others."

Bernardo V. is a 16-year-old from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. "I love physics and artificial intelligence programming. I think that all human beings should be equal, but without knowing it. With the same desires, our lives would be much easier although not necessarily better. I also think that the human nature should be more constrained. We would have no deceptions at all. I wish to know who created god, is there a theory of everything, and if it's true that the things would function better on Earth if the human race hadn't existed".

Jeff K. is a 17-year-old college student from Cleveland, Ohio. "I am an undergraduate physicist/musician at Case Western Reserve University. People are continuously striving to find answers—answers to social, medical and economic problems, the meaning of God, the meaning of life, etc. My single wish would be that the big answers, if they exist at all, might never be found. To live in a world with no curiosity and no ignorance is to live in a world with no hope, and true happiness comes from hope."

Nathaniel C. is a 17-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia. "I am very much into Beat writing, especially Allen Ginsberg. I have one wish. I wish that people everywhere could stop thinking and acting according to the standards set for them by society and do what they want to do and think how they want to think."

J. T. is an 18-year-old college student from West Linn, Oregon who is majoring in Computer Science. "I wish I was rich. Then I could give to charities."

G. K. is an 18-year old from San Diego, California. "My hobbies are programming and computer graphics. I wish for the ability to control any and every mental, physical, and metaphysical thought and action, and be able to read minds."

Jon D. is an 18-year-old from Alabama. "I wish for wisdom and knowledge. (And a couple million bucks wouldn't hurt.)"

Clifford O. is an 18-year-old college student from Corning, New York. "I'm in college at Corning Community College where I study math and science because I hope to go into physical therapy. I wrestle and run on the cross country team. I am totally against drinking, smoking, and drugs. I am a Christian; my sins have been forgiven and when I die I will go to heaven to be with my heavenly father. Question: Are you saved? Have you been born again in the blood of the risen savior Jesus Christ? I've really enjoyed your work; I just wish I knew more about how you made your graphics using mathematics. I'm 5'11", 160lbs. I;m #1 on the cross-country team in college. Being #1 in college came to a shock to me, but I like it. I really don't like to talk about myself. s I wish that my grandfather was still alive! He died in February of 96. His name was Clifford O. also and we had so much in common. We both can make people laugh, we are both fun to be around, we have the same name. Now that he is gone there is only one Clifford when there was always a little Clifford and a big Clifford. I miss him a lot and I know that everyone else does to, epically my grandmother. I also wish that my family was still a family. My mom moved out last summer. I still see my mom but its not the same. Maybe its better this way because my parents don't fight any more. I wish that we were a happy family!"

Paul is a 19-year-old from the UK. "I am interested in the paranormal and conspiracies. I wish to be happy but at the same time retain my original mind with its original way of thinking. I also wish for complete knowledge and understanding."

William L. is a 19-year-old from Gainesville, Florida. "I'm wandering the World Wide Web in search of raw materials for a magical and fanciful city. I play Dungeons and Dragons regularly, and I've been commissioned to create a ray traced image of a city the characters in our campaign are soon to encounter. I was out searching for cool stuff to put in it, for this is no ordinary city. I came across your page, astounded. I have your book Mazes for the Mind and I am a big fan of yours. I am like a hobbit who approaches wish fulfilment with infinite trepidation. In the past I have wished for more intelligence, a faster computer, money, etc. Unfortunately, power can corrupt. Absolute power does so absolutely. I have no desire to be corrupted absolutely, but neither do I want to keep 'the Tolkien ring' in my pocket when I could walk the world unseen. Therefore I wish for ultimate wisdom, thus protecting me from myself and the rest of the world from foolish whims. I wish William Ford Gibson's computer "matrix" into existence along with a supersweet cyberdeck for myself. Then I could really do some surfing."

Danny R. is a 19-year-old college student from New Zealand. "I am a first-year student of Information Systems at the Taranaki Polytechnic. Interests include programming and producing visual, auditory, and multimedia art. I enjoy Terry Pratchett's hilarious books including the Discworld series. I wish for a year's thrill-seeking adventures fully payed for. I wish for time to slow down for me so I can have the equivalent of 110 waking hours and the get-up-and-go to do what has to be got up and done. I wish for a private gym and trainer. I wish for a girlfriend with a great personality, a way of programming a computer much faster, a more powerful PC with video capture, a scanner, a sound room and decent software. I wish upon a star that those who wish loudest not interfere with the wishes of those who wish softest."

Ryan D. is a 19-year-old from Deaborn Heights, Michigan. "I've been using computer since I was 6 years old. I started piano 3 years ago. I love music and love to compose. I'm seeking degrees in Electrical Engineering, computer science, and MIDI music composition and technology. I like the sciences, play Magic the Gathering, and ski. I wish that everyone could hear so that they may enjoy the oldest most advanced form of communication—music. I wish that everyone would have a computer. That way they too can enjoy the wonders cyberspace has to offer. I wish for a female companion. I wish that someday I will be a famous composer or computer guru—that my name will never be forgotten—that I may live in the minds of humans for all times, like Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Einstein, Hawkings, and the great artists of the renaissance. I wish to be happy!"

Jacob R. is a 19-year-old Tae Kwon Do expert from Silver Spring, Maryland. "I spend much of my time with Tae Kwon Do (I have a Black Stripe). I enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction, and enjoy my friends, family, and nice sunny days. I wish for understanding. Like yourself, I simply want to know why we do what we do and why. I wish only for a moderate amount of money. I wish for less stress, less worries in my life. 'How do I make these payments,' 'How am I going to afford this?' 'Why is she doing this to me?' I wish for peace, not necessarily world-peace but inner peace, to find God. I would like to find most of the normal things in life: love, happiness, pleasure… My biggest wish is to become cultured. I want to know all the world's languages, all the customs, the ceremonies, the rites of passage, the people, the history, the mythology, the religion, the curses, the gods, the goddesses, the demons, the various hells, heavens, purgatories, the music, the pastimes, and everything in between right down to the local geography. I want to understand everything that makes a culture a culture, no matter where or when that culture may or may not have existed. I want to be the local archeologist in every Indiana Jones movie that knows everything about anything within a thirty mile radius of the place."

Don N. is a 19-year-old computer scientist from Brandon, Manitoba, Canada "I am visiting your web site because my research interest is scientific visualization. I play guitar, make art, get high by thinking about how the rationals are dense in the reals but the rationals are countable and the reals aren't. I give away all my art work right now. Since I have a pretty good life, I'm going to make a wish on the part of my girlfriend. I wish she could find the same satisfaction in the university that I do; heaven knows she's smart enough. For myself, I wish that Cliff would send me some e-mail as I am really interested in visualization… and it would be nice to have people who know more about it than I do to advise me."

Ages 20-29

D. J. is a 20-year-old premedical student from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. "I am currently researching potential mechanisms for the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction and the strange attractors formed using the Packard-Takens method. I enjoy your work. Thank you for awakening in me such a fierce thirst for understanding. I have always toyed with wishes as a boy, especially when I hit puberty. I wish that my family learns to open up to one another, especially my father. I feel that I owe you a little intellectual stimulation in return for all of the hours of enjoyment your books have provided me. So, a riddle: There are three words in the English language that end with 'gry'; one is angry, one is hungry, the other you use every day. If you read this very carefully, I just gave it away."

W. L. is 20-year-old college student from Richmond, Indiana. "I study sociology and anthropology and am interested in natural sciences, nature photography, and web surfing. I wish for immortality, with the option of death when so desired. I also wish for regeneration of lost limbs, wounds, etc… I wish for unlimited access to any female companionship, unlimited material resources. World peace, and end to famine. I wish all my enemies' rotting corpses."

Paul C. is a 20-year-old college student from Fort Collins, Colorado. "I'm a college student in St. Paul, studying computer science, math, music, religion, subversion, and the effects of prolonged lack of cleaning. I wish not to have the stone anymore—power like that is simply frightening. Then again, I'd probably feel horrible about missing the chance to do what I could have done with the wishing stone, if only I'd known what it was. Perhaps I would wish for the wisdom to know what to do with such a thing. I don't think any human has that."

Ryan C. is a 21-year-old army photographer from an undisclosed location. "I like computers, and spend most of my time on the Internet chatting on IRC. I enjoy going out with friends and anything that gets me away from work. I wish for someone to be there for me and love me for me. I wish for this because I am all alone where I live. No one really cares about me. I have friends, but I want something more that just a social relationship."

Chris C. is a 21-year-old electrical and computer engineering student from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "I enjoy engineering, hiking, camping, listening to good music, and driving around and working on my '65 VW bus. I wish for a way to earn an income that will support me, while still having all the time to do all the non-paying things I prefer to do. This income can be very small; endless free time is more important than the money. I don't think of this as greedy or lazy; I like to keep myself busy, but no one will pay me to do all the things I do. Okay, so maybe I'm a little lazy."

Matthew H. is a 21-year-old from Lake View Terrace, California. "I'm interested in computers, quaternion fractals, mathematical beauty, and rain. I wish that I find within myself the power and ability that will make it possible for me to find money, love, health, or a better world. I wish this because it is all to easy to wish for something, and/or everything we want. But getting these things is a sad thing because there is no effort other than the wish, and after everything is received, what else is there to want? And having the means to get something, rather than just getting it, gives the thing(s) worth when they are finally achieved. I wish that I knew what to wish for. I lack the knowledge to make a wish that will not cause harm due to my ignorance of world problems."

Matt H. is a 21-year-old undergraduate student studying physics and biochemistry at the Florida State University. He resides in Tallahassee, Florida. "I wish that everyone in the world acknowledges and appreciates the beauty and mystery of the universe like they did as children. This feeling has given me joy and wonder at being alive which I would love to pass on."

Ben P. is a 21-year-old college student from Naperville, Illinois. "I am a dreamer. I love to write novel and poems. I am majoring in philosophy and minoring in psychology. I am a full-time student and work for the college as an Internet researcher. I love to read, workout and play and referee soccer. I love to work on older cars and scuba dive. My first wish is to be 'awake' in the context of different religions or philosophies, to be one with everything, to have complete knowledge of everything. I would be all. My second wish is that everyone is awake and one with everything. Then we would be all one, and then life as we know it would be revolutionized. If you understand what being awake is in philosophy or different religious beliefs, then it is would be the best wish anyone could ask for."

S. Anand is a 22-year-old computer expert from Madras, India. I wish that everyone is happy. Not contented - but happy. I wish mankind or myself would be introduced to a brilliant idea/concept every day. I wish Disney would release two movies a day—and let me in for every premier."

Patrick F. is a 22-year-old "technical support representative" for the WinWay corporation from Citrus Heights, California. "My hobbies include: spending time with my wife, snowboarding, mountainbiking, hanging out on the Internet, and reading fiction and nonfiction books. I wish for their to be an end to racism. I wish that all humans could see what amazing creatures we are and strive to reach their full potential. I wish I could move back to my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.

Nigel S. is a 22-year-old computer programmer from Melbourne, Australia. "I am an Australian-born US citizen and also an Australian citizen. I develop computer graphics software. Hobbies include programming, reading, and aquariums. I wish that my mother and girl friend could both find rewarding and profitable jobs, since the current economic climate is quite insecure here in Australia. I wish that I could find more time to spend with my friends, particularly those living far away. When people talk about a full-time job—you don't realize how full your time becomes! I wouldn't wish for a big pile of cash—except perhaps to give to people who need it more than I do."

J. E. is a 23-year-old graduate student from Chicago, Illinois (B.S. magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa member, future civil rights attorney). "I wish to become a successful civil rights attorney, one that would have an impact on the present state of racial inequality in America. I wish to find a wife who would love and care for me as much as I would love and care for her. I wish to truly accept and love myself for who and what I really am physically, intellectually, and spiritually. I wish to have a comfortable relationship with God in which I would understand and accept my role in life, without any doubts or worries. I wish to learn how to play a musical instrument well enough to perform in a major orchestra, preferably the violin or piano. Most of my wishes revolve around spiritual and personal growth and development. I basically want to be comfortable with my career, loved ones, and myself. I also want to help others as much as I possibly can."

Travis M. is a 23-year-old electronics technician from Little Rock, Arkansas. "I wish to live long and prosper."

Chris C. is a 23-year-old Internet web designer from San Diego, California. "I'm a scientist and inventor who likes playing blues trombone and hiking. I wish there was a corporation designed to exploit the ideas I come up with on a regular basis… a group of people who enjoy exploring the possibilities of technology but understand the importance of world-friendly design. The company would be flexible, capable of creating a project team for products and services ranging from revolutionary Web sites to operating systems, from low-cost automobiles to sky-cities. Here is a silly example: I come up with a way to keep VCRs from taping over important shows… I post it to the corporate intranet server, and it either sits waiting for a project, gets added to a current project's designs, or perhaps becomes a project of its own. The principles of the company itself would be based on these ideas. From workstations to the building itself, everything would revolve around a creative environment for the employee/owners. No more veal-fattening pens or corner offices; everyone works in the same room, with windowed offices converted into places for a creativity break (the Toybox), a comfort break (with pets and stuffed animals), a scenery break (that corner office is now a solarium), or the all-important snack break. (People earn $10 an hour normally—why not pick up the $5 lunch tab?) I have workflow ideas, building design ideas, intranet ideas, and product ideas; volunteering ideas, teaching ideas, learning ideas, and community ideas… but there's no company to house it all… yet."

Brian M. is a 25-year-old software development engineer from Loveland, Ohio. "I enjoy reading physics and technical books, programming, scientific visualization, drawing (art), rollerblading, camping, hiking, reviewing books for SAVIAC (government technical library), and assistant teaching in an adult literacy program. I wishes to understand Einstein's theories of relativity applied to gravitation, to become a better chess player, and to become a better communicator (written and oral)."

Kevin H. is a 25-year-old graduate student from Micanopy, Florida. "I am currently nearing completion of a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida. My work focuses on how to best combine modeling, control, optimization, and visualization into a cohesive, structured approach to deal with complex systems. My wife and I both have lower-middle to middle class families, and were raised in that socioeconomic class. I ask for two wishes. First, I wish that multiple wishes may be combined into a single wish whose separate parts are to be fulfilled simultaneously. Second, I make the combined wish that all such wishing stones should vanish forever, and that all memory of wishing stones be erased from the minds of all who knew of them. Why? A wishing stone would strip away our humanity by upsetting the delicate balance between the opposing notions which define our lives. Our lives are really a paradox. We desire happiness, pleasure, and wisdom; yet these can not be defined except in relation to sadness, pain, and ignorance. But if we have a wishing stone remove these bad things, we lose the good also. Maybe Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had wishing stones? By using a wishing stone we would place ourselves into a position in which we would not be able to solve unless we were able to use the wishing stone. What would happen then if it were lost?"

Jeff P. is a 25-year-old in a medical profession, from Lawrence, Kansas. "I would like to have unlimited knowledge, a photographic memory and instant access to that knowledge and memory. Would you need anything else?"

Connell M. is a 25-year-old Ph.D. student in mathematics, from Edmonton, Canada. "I enjoy hockey, soccer, old movies and talking about philosophy. I'm a Roman Catholic. I wish for the happiness of loved ones gone by."

Chris N. is a 25-year-old-male from Rapid City, South Dakota. "I am a master level juggler, active in the Martial Arts, and married. I work as a computer system operator and have an overall love for anything deemed 'fantastic'. I believe the universe is 'holographic' in its composition. I wish is to have the power to heal anyone with any physical or emotional problem with just a thought! I wish for this gift because it is the highest form of spiritual communion with humanity for which a mortal could ask."

Jerry H. is a 25-year-old bank worker from Springhill, Louisana. "I work at a bank here in my small hometown. I like sports and reading the fantasy/science-fiction books of Michael Moorcock and of Katherine Kurtz. I wish to instantly read anyone's mind to know their honest opinion of me or simply to know what's running through their minds as they approach me. I wish to be able to influence peoples' thoughts. I am not seeking power but I seek truth. I realize that the ability to manipulate people's thoughts is a bit dishonest, but it would be interesting and fun."

S. Ching is a 26-year-old analyst from Singapore. "I am an analyst for a McGraw-Hill subsidiary called Datapro Information Services. We study the telecommunications and IT industry with respect to market, vendor technology and industrial strategy dynamics. I specialize in the multimedia and Internet technologies. I also have a company dealing with counter allergy products. My personal interest is the study of business practices and management philosophies. While my job and interest tends to be forward looking, my personal taste tends to be somewhat retrospective in nature. For example, I have preference for Chinese opera, old jazz, and ancient music. I wish for a continued perfect love life. Claire and I enjoy each others' company, humor, pain, fear. and love. Any little conflict ends with compromise and an increase in mutual understanding and more love. I wish the same for all relationships in the world. Yet, conflict is not something I want to wish away. Differences make for a more exciting and varied world. Resolution in peace, harmony, mutual understanding, and respect is what is crucial. Finally I wish that while everybody goes about accomplishing his/her wishes, dreams and goals, they should be enjoying the process. People spend their time aiming at an end. Yet the targets can change and be changed. It's too bad you don't enjoy every stage of your life. You only had one childhood, youth, teenage, adulthood, middle-age, and old age, and you shouldn't miss the joys of those stages. I also wish peace for everyone, peace of mind."

Jon V. is a 27-year-old from Ann Arbor, Michigan. "I'm interested in art, mathematics, spirituality, nature, and people. I wish people understand that other people can have different viewpoints. I wish people can magically be aware of the balance between rights and responsibility, cause and effect, goodness-in and goodness-out, life and living. I also wish that the human race not only gets 'the big picture' but also understands there is one and that what we think and do is important. My last wish is selfish; I want free, unlimited travel anywhere!"

Brian S. is a 28-year-old electronic security expert from Chicago, Illinois. "I am a computer geek employed in the electronic security industry by one of the baby-bell companies. I love to read and participate in role-playing games My wishes are simple. By whatever means, I'd like myself and my loved ones to always feel happy."

Russell G. is a 29-year-old from Ellsworth, Maine. "I was divorced twice and have two children (boy 12, girl 6) who live with me full time. I am a Gemini, a born socializer, and very analytical. I love computers, music and words. I wish for knowledge, which is true power. I wish for wisdom, since knowledge without wisdom is useless. With knowledge and wisdom, all other wishes could be fulfilled."

Steve A. is a 29-year-old engineer from Sydney, Australia "I'm a VLSI engineer, finishing my Ph.D. I'm married with no children. I wish for omniscience. This allows me to solve all those problems people have (cure for cold, AIDS, finishing my Ph.D., furthering human knowledge…). This also allows me to make money if I feel the need. I also wish for omnipotence to allow me to implement ideas gleaned from wish 1. In this way, I really don't need money, and I can travel through space and time. I also wish for immortality. I never have time to do the things I want."

Ages 30-39

James D. is a 31-year-old employee of the U.S. Air Force in Bossier City, Lousisiana. "I am currently looking for employment, because I am about to have an honorable discharged from the USAF. I like to read your books and those of K. Eric Drexler. I collect certificates in the field of electronics (BASEET, Ham Radio, ISCET, VICA). Grant me my wish: I do not want a wish. Can you do it?"

Jonny X. is a 33-year-old computer research librarian from San Diego, California. "I wish that I could be the one who makes First Contact with another sentient species from another planet. I wish to establish an embassy between our species and theirs. I've had this wish since I was a little kid."

Nick O. is a 33-year-old from Melbourne, Australia. "I could wish for a new car—but I'm better off just working harder for something like that, so I'll wish for peace—even if it's only peace for me, but peace for everyone would be better."

Michael J. is a 34-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia. "My hobbies are education, reading, baseball, and politics. I wish we discover why we procrastinate. We cannot eliminate procrastination on dealing with pending problems until we understand why we have that procrastination in the first place. Crime, the environment, poverty—many of the problems facing us could be solved if we invested our time and energy in those causes. But we don't. We don't because we cannot stand to wait for the benefits. We want to be rewarded now for what we do now. I wish we could be happy with a reward that comes tomorrow for what we do today."

Andrew K. is a 35-year-old electronic technician from Janesville, Wisconsin. "My hobbies include reading and computers. I wish to always live at the edge of my capabilities. I wish to leave this Earth a little better than it was when I arrived. I wish for a new car."

Kent B. is a 35-year-old writer and publisher of science fiction from Santa Clara, California. "I wish sight for my daughter who was born blind. This will involve further miniaturization of computer components, improvements in science's understanding of the way the brain works, and some serious work on user interfaces. (Do I want a Microsoft operating system in her head? Not really.) She's five years old; I think we could do it by the time she turns eighteen."

E. M. is a 35-year-old programmer, musician, and video artist from Tel-Aviv, Israel. "I wish I didn't have a day job and still had enough money to live and produce any artistic project I had in mind."

Fred B. is a 35-year-old computer technician from Ann Arbor, Michigan. "I install Intel PC's and was a college drop-out with a grade point average (GPA) of 0.625. I am single with interests including: science, computers, military history, numerical algorithms, fractal geometry, symbolic processing, music-classical pipe organs, and graphics ray- tracing. I wish the rest of my life could resemble my life at 5 years of age. In other words, employment would require no more time and effort than that expended by a kindergartener learning to read, make art, and play with one's classmates. I wish our income can provide us with the adult equivalent of always having a quarter available when the Good Humor ice-cream man comes around. The best and most productive academic research is very like play."

Jeff H. is a 36-year-old artist from Portland, Oregon. "I am an artist but, for monetary support, I work at a large independent bookstore (Powell's). I like to read, write, create music, play basketball, help my friends, and ponder the interesting ways of the world and the depth of my own slippery soul. I wish for a change in human consciousness. I wish for human beings, collectively, to turn away from individualist materialism, and move toward a rational existence based on the reality of how our planet, and the nature of life on it, works. In this sense, I wish for an autocratic vision of how I want the world to be! I think we need a lot less people on this planet, and a radical change in our desires for more in a finite world. We have potential paradise within our lifetimes, but it would require a major change in what it means to be human."

Bryan S. is a 36-year-old from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. "I am interested in linguistics, theoretical physics, engineering, science fiction, Torah (Bible and commentaries), comparative religions, Judaism, Christianity, telecommunications, computers, and ethnology. I wish Israel's government be restructured into a Jewish Monarchy whose ruler is subject to Jewish Law and whose policy is tolerance and compassion towards other human beings as per Jewish Law. I also wish that people would recognize that they are more important than their ideas, their possessions, or their societies—just as in Jewish Law; that they are considered of great importance to G-d and should also be to each other. I also wish economics would just go away like some bad dream and every person would be free to grow to their full potential, not stifled by the mindless economic needs of a mindless and soul-less organization. Finally, I wish people could be endowed with such knowledge of their own self-worth that they would not feel the need to hate or derogate others."

Nick D. is a 37-year-old computer programmer and project manager from Cheltenham, England. "I am interested in the chromatic harmonica, visualization, creativity, physics, perception, astronomy, and subtle humor. I wish my brother was still alive. I wish Apple had licensed the Mac OS to IBM before Microsoft got into the picture, for an end to human suffering, for a flattening or reduction in population levels; for an end to wildlife habitat destruction, extinction, and loss of diversity; for an end to loss of human diversity, for dark skies unpolluted by upwards-pointing security and display lights, to live forever without significant physical or mental pain, to be able to mentally visualize as clearly as is possible with pencil and paper, for a much-needed increase in intelligence, and finally I wish for the impossible!"

Jack P. is a 38-year-old manager from Westminster, Maryland. "I enjoy running and reading. I wish health for myself and family, wealth, and knowledge of god.

Doug H. is a 39-year-old certified alcohol and drug Counselor from Mayfield, Kentucky. "I am interested in Wicca, Magic, and reading. I work with alcoholics and drug addicts. I wish for peace on earth."

David Hoyle is a 39-year-old electron-microscope service engineer from Edmonton, Canada. "I am interested in computer programming, math and golf. I wish I had a programming language that knows what I'm trying to do and self-programs. Life continues to be as much a mystery as it is."

John B. is a 39-year-old writer from Bemidji, Minnesota. "I wish to be in the place where I can do the most good—even if it's right here for the time being. I suspect everything else is derivative."

Ages 40-49

Rip S. is a 40-year-old computer artist from Jacksonville, Mississippi. "I am a skydiver and rockclimber. I wish for the stone's power to grant wishes."

Chris C. is a 42-year-old computer software entrepreneur from Newport Beach, California—with an interest in physics and philosophy. "I would use my wish to better mankind; however, the power of wish fulfillment must be exercised carefully. Here are some things that can go wrong. If you give everyone unlimited money, this would lead to runaway inflation. If you give everyone unlimited energy, this would lead to global warning. If you give everyone unlimited happiness, does this mean everyone gets what they want? What if two people want incompatible things, for example, warmer weather versus cooler weather? Does this mean just make everyone happy? Let's say for the moment that people are made happier by having fewer unfulfilled desires. This can be accomplished either by fulfilling more desires, which may be impossible due to conflicts of interest, or by eliminating desires. Perhaps the best thing to do is to make everyone an ascetic, or maybe just get rid of them. But this doesn't seem right. If you give everyone unlimited information, then a market economy reaches a state of Pareto optimality, in which no one can be made better off without making someone else worse off. But how would everyone store and process all this information? Even more modest goals are slippery. For example, suppose we decide to make everyone equally happy, as happy as the happiest person now alive. But how can we decide if two people are equally happy? Or suppose we decide that we want a democratic society in which everyone has one vote. But there are paradoxes of voting, in which a democratic society will prefer A to B, prefer B to C, and yet prefer C to A. Thus it will never be possible to implement a truly democratic society. All of these problems make me think in other directions. If someone offered to fulfill my every wish, rather than thinking about what I could do for myself or society, I'd be curious about what technology allowed them to make such an offer. I'd be interested in probing this technology. I might start with questions that were hard to answer, like factoring large integers. It would be easy for me to multiply two 1000-digit primes and see if the technology could factor the result. If a series of increasingly tough questions like these were answered, I'd move on to questions that we believe are unsolvable, like the Turing halting problem. If these questions could be answered, it would presumably reveal something profoundly wrong with the way we think about such things, and this study might allow us to solve the other conundrums cited above."

Swen W. is a 42-year-old engineer from New Hampshire. "I am a senior-level engineer and family-oriented person. I enjoy Chinese food and sports, and am interested in making new friends who can share my thoughts about life. I wish that my daughter wake up from her dreams which are too far from reality. I wish that my daughter understands the difference between love and like. I wish that my daughter understands what a 15-year-old girl can/should do and what can/should not do. I wish that my daughter learn to respect the family value. I wish that my daughter trust her parents and believe in them. I wish that my daughter understand how much her father loves her and is willing to sacrifice his life for her life without a second thought if such a time comes. I wish that my daughter understands that the reason for setting some rules is that I am trying my best to have her avoid paying a price that I am afraid will be too costly for her. I wish she understands this is the only reason I set forth rules and not because I want to limit her freedom. I know it is a jungle out there for an immature girl. My final wish is that my daughter cries for losing me and promises me to take good care of herself and the rest of my family after I died."

Ken C. is a 42-year-old office manager of a rental store from Wilsonville, Oregon. "My hobbies include electronics, computers, landscaping, and mechanics. I wish to win the lottery - at least $10 million - enough to do whatever I want to for the rest of my life. I wish to have a closer relationship with my wife, or better communication. I wish to have as much sex as I want."

Rich D. is a 43-year-old single parent from Lutherville, Maryland. "I wish to live in the present and to be able to value everyone's differences without judgements."

Skip V. is a 45-year-old teacher from Ester, Arkansas. "I'm also a webmaster, artist, and musician. I wish for the ability to simply fly, the ability to transcend time and space—to see a dinosaur or visit an asteroid or watch a supernova—and an understanding of relationships—cause and effect, influences, interactions—in the physical world."

Bob F. is a 45-year-old entrepreneur in the clothing business from Taos, mew Mexico. "I am interested in poetry, downhill skiing, and politics. I wish to be successful in the new business I am creating. I wish to grow old with my wife. I wish my brother and I would get along better. I wish I understood why more people don't seek me out as a friend."

Gregg M. is a 45-year-old computer expert from Lakewood, Washington. "I caught the tail end of the 60's, hitchhiked around the states, Mexico, and Canada. I spent three years in the service, 82nd Airborne Division. I am sixteen years in computer systems work, married with a sixteen-year-old son, and I have the bad habit of tilting at a lot of windmills. I am well read enough to know that man is certainly capable of dreaming of a perfect world and most probably unable to achieve it. My first thought is to not wish for the generic 'everybody getting along' or 'world peace', though both would be fine wishes. I wish that all children would be able to grow up well educated and unabused. I wish that honesty and truthfulness were genetic rather than environmental, and that these traits could be assumed."

Jethro G. is a 46-year-old artist from Ithaca, New York. "I am a visual artist working in mixed media, collage, and shaped forms. I'm also a librarian focusing on digital and cutting-edge means of providing access to information. My wish is for world peace and for hearts to be filled with joy rather than sorrow. I wish for good health, happiness and long life, for my loved ones including myself."

Darryl S. is a 46-year-old electronics and computer technician from Eugene, Oregon. He is also very interested in the arts and the sciences. "I wish emotional maturity preceded sexual maturity (at least in the human species). I wish humans might 'invent' an economy which would guarantee all only a sufficient income (no more, no less). I wish my philosophy of self-realization did not stumble upon the existence of the innocent victim. I wish karma were more immediately effective. I wish the experience of time were truly and completely subjective and individual and plastic."

Gary H. is a 46-year-old school administrator from Guatemala City, Guatemala. "I run a school for English in Guatemala City. I've also just started an organization called 'Johnny Participle'. Our aim is to get schools to donate teachers and materials for Saturday classes at some orphanages around town. I'm doing it first in Guatemala and then I want to take it to teachers and schools in other countries. I think I can do it in Cyberspace. I wish for unlimited wishes, but all wishes should have a built-in dialog box with a notice, 'A sure you want that wish?'"

Dave M. is a 47-year-old from Quincy, Illinois. "I am interested in my family's well-being, home remodeling, new computers, old motorcycles, old trucks, old dogs and children and other recovering alcoholics. I wish for my 22-year-old son's eventual recovery because I've 'been there done that' and I no longer enjoy watching sentient things suffer. I also wish a healthy baby for my daughter for the same reason as above.

Phil. B. is a 48-year-old central services manager from the United Kingdom. "I am a mountain biker and proud father of two boys. I want to release the shackles of upbringing and conservatism, to release the spirit within, and taste, without guilt, the flavour of life—to free the muses and the heart, to reach out and touch all that is beauty, before it's too late!"

Bill R. is a 49-year-old from Glenorchy, Tasmania Australia. "I am interested in fractals, graphics, herb gardens and relaxation. I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and wish that a miracle cure could fix me so that I can dump all my medications and resume a 'normal' life once again."

Andre S. is a 49-year-old letter carrier from Concord, New Hampshire. "I am college educated, with three children, harleys, and tattoos. I am interested in weight lifting, computers, and spirituality. I wish for a sense of real self worth, money so I can spend my time as I wish, health for myself and children, and peace on earth."

Ages 50-59

D. J. M. is a 50-year-old sixth grade teacher from Baltimore, Maryland. "I enjoy reading, computers, and television. I am married and have an 11-year-old daughter. I wish to become a beautiful, sexy, 25-year-old woman any time I wanted. It must be cool to have guys worshipping you just for your body."

John D. is a 52-year-old computer expert from Cornwall, United Kingdom. "I'm interested in science, technology, the "meaning-of-life", and science fiction. I wish for personal physical immortality and invulnerability. The former may be possible as scientists learn to eliminate aging and disease and gain the ability to repair accidents. I also wish for the ability to operate outside time, so that the rest of the universe stops while I get on with what I am doing. Professionals, especially lawyers, can achieve this with appointments systems, but this is really stealing or extorting the time from others as opposed to what I propose which is a physics solution. Examples in fiction: H.G. Wells' 'The New Accelerator' short story, although this is impractical chemistry rather than physics. Q in 'Star Trek Second Generation' can suspend the passage of time for his nefarious activities."

Jim O. is 52-year-old kindergarten teacher from Edmonton, Canada. "I am the father of five children, fascinated with learning, teaching, and the Internet. I wish we all realize the value in providing the very best resources for our children. Why? All such efforts will profoundly transform humanity's quality of life."

Bill E. is a 52-year-old family mediator from Burlington, Vermont. "I am also a research assistant for a psychology doctoral candidate. For the 10 years previous I have provided therapeutic foster care to high risk adolescent boys who had been sexually abused and who now have victims of their own. I wish my spouse were on the path where she would find one of these wishing stones. Her wishes for wealth and comfort are out of my grasp and contribute to her increasing sadness. I wish for her to make peace with the ghosts in her family history. I wish her well and wish I could do more than I already do. I feel so powerless and I love her so."

Phil P. is a 53-year-old salesman from Smyrna, Georgia. "I've been a salesman for 20 years. I enjoy metal detecting, golf, and reading about high-energy particle physics. I wish for better, more-effective communication among humans. Over 99% of the world population hold the same core beliefs: love of family, desire for respect from others, life comforts, etc. The lack of effective communication sometimes distorts our perception of the core beliefs of others, leading to social friction on a variety of scales. I wish the gift of love to every person on earth. It is the most powerful, soothing, fulfilling, positive emotion that one can experience, and it fuels the same emotion in others."

Clint S. is a 54-year-old Professor of Physics from Wisconsin. "I enjoy computers and dancing. I wish that I had no need to wish."

Ray V. is a 54-year-old from an undisclosed state in the U.S. "I enjoy sailing, computer games, science fiction, spirituality, mountains, and deserts. I wish to see the whole planet/vortex/plan of spiritual transformation occur."

Mark Dubin is a 54-year-old college professor and administrator from Boulder, Colorado. "I wish everyone on earth is adequately fed, clothed and sheltered. I also wish for an end to violence as a means of settling disputes between nations."

Will T. is a 54-year-old artist from Oakland, California. "I am a classically trained artist turned digital explorer with an graphic image printed in your book The Pattern Book: Fractals, Art, and Nature. I am involved with 3-D animation and various digital imaging projects. I also do installation pieces that use technology to get the public involved with the art. One such piece was exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Rental Gallery in 1994. I wish to have access to Cliff Pickover's software/hardware to explore the avenues of creation through that door. I find that every artist uses software in a different way so that the originator of the software is surprised at the outcome."

Dennis S. is a 56-year-old game designer from Round Rock, Texas. "I have a Ph.D. in biology and was an electronics technician in US Navy. I have a 26-year old daughter and a lovely wife of 35 years. I play Go and Magic. I used prayer and visualization to remove a brain lesion the size of a walnut! I wish the world were marked off with imaginary hexagons fifty miles across (with some tiny polygons at the poles; just to keep the topologists happy), and that each local midnight the human population of each hexagon were reduced (randomly) to not exceed the human carrying capacity of that hexagon. I wish that in the next 24 hours each person who holds or touches illegal drugs or a firearm would die. I wish that nuclear weaponry suddenly, instantly, and permanently became inactivated and useless."

Monte O. is a 58-year-old retiree from Beaverton, Oregon. "I wish every human will have their intelligence doubled. (This will cause better decisions to be made but preserve differences that make life interesting.) I also wish that no human will be able to deliberately cause physical harm to another human. (Accidents will still happen, but violence and wars will end.)

60 and Above

Nick H. is a 60-year-old physicist from Boulder Creek, California. He has worked on the shortest proof of Bell's theorem, is an author of such books as Quantum Reality, and is a poet and researcher (quantum tantra). "I would like a pair of quantum goggles that reveal the world 'as she really is'. I would like a job exploring nature at the deepest level of engagement possible for a being of my composition and culture. I would like to perceive a new form of beauty in the next 15 minutes. I would like to experience a new and unimaginable pleasure sometime today. I would like to learn a new secret before the sun goes down. I would like a direct, high-bandwidth connection to the universe's source of creativity (de Muse). I would like to be able to speak and understand a thousand languages. I would like a thousand new senses a thousand new desires. I would like to achieve unexcelled sexual union tonight with a being of my choice. I would like to experience deep religious ecstasy before Christmas. I would like to be profoundly surprised."

Appendix 1. A Note on Wishes in History

"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakens." - Carl Jung

I remember an ancient parable that describes a conversation between God and two human adversaries. It goes like this. Years ago, in a small town in Eastern Europe, there were two tailors who were keen rivals. Over the years their rivalry became more and more extreme, developing into a hatred so deep and intense that it came to the attention of the Lord Himself, who sent an angel to one of the rivals with an offer. The angel said, "Schmuel, the Lord has become aware of your rivalry with Yitzhak there, across the street, and has empowered me to settle this rivalry, once and for all, by offering you a wish." "One wish?" said Schmuel, "Anything I want?" "Yes," said the angel, "anything at all, but with one proviso: whatever you ask for, Yitzhak gets twice as much." Without hesitation, Schmuel pointed to his face and said, "Put out one of my eyes!"

Through history wishes often lead to calamity. "Be careful what you wish for, you may receive it," so the saying goes. It seems people are not supposed to wish. In stories where there are three wishes, the last wish inevitably causes major problems for the wisher. This seems especially true in the West. The Djinn and Leprachauns, for example, never allowed mere mortals to achieve their wishes. Mortals haven't the insight, nor the "pure motive". On the other hand, there is a famous Japanese story about an old couple wishing for a child, and their wish is granted, with no strings, no qualifications, no ramifications. In the West you pay for your audacity. In this Eastern story there are no dreaded consequences of wishing.

Appendix 2. Some Closing Quotations

Here is a smorgasbord of favorite quotations on wishing and dreaming.

"Wouldn't be nice if… everybody could get at least three hugs a day, I

could go back and relive my favorite memory, neighbors could greet each

other on evening walks, photographs and memories could stay vivid

through the years, my shadow could do half the yard work, kindness could

be dispersed as freely as dandelion fluff, I could still have the simple

faith I had when I was a child, we could speak every kind word that came

to mind, sunshine could cure cancer, lighting bugs could twinkle in

colors, our family tree could find strength in its roots, we could

bottle the time we save to use when we need a little extra, I could

collect stars from the night sky to light my garden path…"

- Nancy J. Carmody, Family Circle

"Sorrow ages you prematurely. When you're in emotional debt, you're

pessimistic about the future, and even in your green years, long to

return to the past to remedy the shortfalls of love and opportunity you

suffered. Sometimes you yearn for more caring, for more time with

someone who is no longer here, for a chance to speak your mind and

release your emotional burden, or just to resolve your confusion by

finally discovering what really happened to you.

You can speculate, you can lament, you can yearn, but as much as you may

wish to return and round off your emotional experience, you can never go

home again. Your real home is in this place, at this time. The present

is for action, for doing, for becoming, and for growing."

- Dr. David Viscott, Emotionally Free

"I would like to perceive a new form of beauty in the next 15 minutes.

I would like to experience a new and unimaginable pleasure sometime

today. I would like to be able to speak and understand a thousand

languages. I would like a thousand new senses, a thousand new desires.

I would like to achieve unexcelled sexual union tonight with a being of

my choice. I would like to experience deep religious ecstasy

before Christmas. I would like to be profoundly surprised."

- 60-year-old respondent Nick Herbert, author of Faster than Light

"I wish that when ever something goes wrong

The world would just pause and sing me a song

That God would send raindrops to water my dreams

And make flowers grow from magical beans

I wish that reality would just melt away

And sunlight would come streaming through the dark and dreary gray

I wish that mountains would grow right under my feet

And fairies and dragons I would meet

But all these dreams will always stay wishes

And I'll always be eating off plain ol' dishes

I won't be feasting on big fancy meals

I'll always be eating those microwave deals

Part of me wants these wishes to come true

Part says 'Our dreams are our wishes, so don't be blue'

That little inner voice I try to ignore

But if I didn't have these wishes, what else would I wish for?

- Evie Bohanan, an 11-year-old from Ryan Middle School, "Wish"

"Everything that has beauty has a body, and is a body;

Everything that has being has being in the flesh:

And dreams are only drawn from bodies that are."

- D. H. Lawrence, Bodiless God

"You have said that the land is a dream for you -

and that you fear to be made mad.

But madness is not the only danger in dreams.

There is also the danger that something may be lost

which can never be regained."

- S. R. Donaldson

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

- W. B. Yeats, "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven"

"Hell is full of good meanings and wishings."

- George Herbert (1593-1632)

"True love's the gift which God has given

To man alone beneath the heaven:

It is not fantasy's hot fire,

Whose wishes soon as granted fly."

- Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

"Our wishes lengthen as our sun declines."

- John Dryden (1631-1701)

Copyright Information

* The Book of Wishes © Cliff Pickover.

Note: I am currently seeking to publish this book for broad public consumption with a popular publisher. I welcome suggestions for possible publisher and contact names.

Praise for Clifford A. Pickover


Pickover contemplates realms beyond our known reality.”

The New York Times


“Pickover has published nearly a book a year in which he stretches the limits of computers, art, and thought.”

Los Angeles Times


“Pickover inspires a new generation of da Vincis to build unknown flying machines and create new Mona Lisas.”

Christian Science Monitor


“Bucky Fuller thought big, Arthur C. Clarke thinks big, but Cliff Pickover outdoes them both.”




“A perpetual idea machine, Clifford Pickover is one of the most creative, original thinkers in the world today.”

Journal of Recreational Mathematics

Works by Clifford A. Pickover

The Alien IQ Test

Archimedes to Hawking

A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality

Black Holes: A Traveler’s Guide

Calculus and Pizza

Chaos and Fractals

Chaos in Wonderland

Computers, Pattern, Chaos, and Beauty

Computers and the Imagination

Cryptorunes: Codes and Secret Writing

Dreaming the Future

Egg Drop Soup

Future Health

Fractal Horizons: The Future Use of Fractals

Frontiers of Scientific Visualization

The Girl Who Gave Birth to Rabbits

The Heaven Virus

Jews in Hyperspace

Keys to Infinity

Liquid Earth

The Lobotomy Club

The Loom of God

The Math Book

The Mathematics of Oz

Mazes for the Mind

Mind-Bending Visual Puzzles

The Möbius Strip

The Paradox of God & the Science of Omniscience

A Passion for Mathematics

The Pattern Book: Fractals, Art, and Nature

The Science of Aliens

Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves

Spider Legs (with Piers Anthony)

Spiral Symmetry (with Istvan Hargittai)

Strange Brains and Genius

Sushi Never Sleeps

The Stars of Heaven

Surfing through Hyperspace

Time: A Traveler’s Guide

Visions of the Future

Visualizing Biological Information

Wonders of Numbers

The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars

About the Author


Clifford A. Pickover is a prolific author and futurist, having published more than 40 books in 15 different languages. Exploring topics ranging from computers and creativity to art, mathematics, parallel universes,  Einstein, time travel, alien life, religion, dimethyltryptamine elves, and the nature of human genius, his most recent titles include The Math Book; Archimedes to Hawking; A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality; The Möbius Strip; Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves; A Passion for Mathematics; Calculus and Pizza; The Paradox of God and the Science of Omniscience; Surfing Through Hyperspace; The Science of Aliens; and Time: A Traveler’s Guide.  In addition, he has authored more than 200 articles on topics in science, art, and mathematics.

Dr. Pickover received his Ph.D. from Yale University’s Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, having graduated first in his class from Franklin and Marshall College.  Today, he holds over 50 U.S. patents for inventions dealing with computing technologies and interfaces.

Pickover is currently an associate editor for the scientific journal Computers and Graphics and is an editorial board member for Odyssey, Leonardo, and YLEM. He also writes the “Brain-Strain” column for Odyssey, and his website,, has received more than a million visits. Dr. Pickover’s primary interest is finding new ways to continually expand creativity by melding art, science, mathematics, and other seemingly disparate areas of human endeavor. Other hobbies include Ch’ang-Shih Tai-Chi Ch’uan, Shaolin Kung Fu, and piano. He owns a 110-gallon aquarium filled with Lima shovelnose catfishes and Florida gar, and advises readers to maintain a shovelnose tank in order to foster a sense of mystery in their lives. Look into the fish’s eudaemonic eyes, dream of Elysian Fields, and soar.

To reach Dr. Pickover, visit