When staying up too late with friends, conversation tends to drift past the realm of relevance into the imaginary and supernatural. One such conversation involves the What Would You Wish For? scenario, in which the subject is called to answer what they would request from a genie who could grant any wish.
The scenario varies slightly depending on whether the genie abides by single wish or tri-wish regulations. Most top wish analysts agree that three wishes would seem unnecessary, as the wisher’s first demand should be comprehensive and explicit enough to grant all of the desired fortune, fame and power at once. In other words, three wishes is for people who don’t know how to wish.
Before we move on to wish design, we should cover some basic rules that might be enforced by genies if they were real and cared about regulation.
- Rule #1: The wisher may not wish for more wishes, more genies, a do-over or to see the outcome of a wish prior to wishing.
- Rule #2: The wisher may not make sub-wishes inside of a single wish by using conjunctions such as and, with or plus.
- Rule #3: The wisher may not wish to ascend beyond the scope of human understanding. For example, the request “I wish to be God” would be denied due to the terrifying cosmic ramifications of said wish.
- Rule #4: When the wisher is not explicit in a demand, the genie is to request additional information. If none is given, the wish shall be granted to the best of the genie’s understanding. For example, a wisher who requests “to have magical powers like Gandalf” is implying that they want the power of reincarnation, telekinesis, beard, etc.
- Rule #5: The wisher may not wish the genie free. As alluded to in Rule #1, genies may not be the target of wishes. In addition, a wish granted by a free genie holds no power, thus resulting in a paradoxical wish-loop.
Now that we’ve covered some basic rules, we shall answer once and for all what is the best wish?
If we were to choose based which wish is most popular, we might end up with unlimited money, immortality, the ability to fly, invisibility or something equally shortsighted. Thankfully this process isn’t democratic, otherwise we might end up with something as meaningless as a wish for change.
If we chose based on power, then the idea of infinite wealth is out, since money is only valuable because of its scarcity and can only be used to execute limited corporeal commands. Wishing for power, however, comes with many dangerous consequences. For example, wishing for the ability to reshape reality would likely put an end to the world as we know it. The laws of physics would be overruled by the will of a flawed, selfish creature, and it wouldn’t be long before the Earth was uninhabitable because the wisher wanted the sky to be made of bubblegum.
The best wish is one that combines power with practicality and wealth with wisdom. We do not wish to reshape the universe, neither do we wish to merely vacation in Hawaii and drive a Ferrari. What could be more desirable than power and more precious than gold?
The best wish is to wish for knowledge. More specifically, to wish for the ability to know anything that you want to know. The scope of this wish ranges from the most crucial and decisive questions about our existence to the mundane and inconsequential, from the origin of the universe to the location of the TV remote, from the truth about whether we are alone in the universe to the winning lotto numbers. It satisfies the deepest existential, emotional, physical and spiritual desires of our heart. To answer all things – it completes a human being.
This wish does not come risk free. Since everyone is closed-minded to some degree, there may be answers that you would not like or even reject. Finding out there is or isn’t a God or that Coke is actually better or worse than Pepsi is a frightening thought. It is possible that after shattering your philosophical framework a few times, you might be able to look beyond these constrictions and enjoy some level of peace. It’s also possible that this knowledge would become a burden, in which case you could just choose to know how to not be burdened by the knowledge or to know how to unknow it.
If you ever encounter a genie who will grant you one wish, wish for knowledge. In the mean time read a book.