Wings of Desire and Wishes on Trees

treeOften, when I walk around my beloved Lake Harriet, I think of the Wim Wenders movie, Wings of Desire. Ah, ring a bell? If you were like me, you would have shuffled into an art house or slipped in a VHS tape circa 1991, when movies were films and you had time and emotion to burn. Maybe you held your boyfriend’s hand, shifting elbows and fingers to find the clasp that felt like two puzzle pieces locked in place. You would have been blown away by this beautiful dark German film and then talked about it, earnest and teary, hunched over beers in a loud bar, feeling separate, special and immune for the emotional and artistic journey you had just taken. It would have underscored what a compelling medium cinema could be, how challenging and gorgeous and smart, in the right hands, with the right story – almost better than books and music. For a few years anyway. Until you got over yourself, ditched the metaphorical beret and really got down to the business of living for someone other than yourself. Movies were a way to try on other lives, try on other truths, all so very important to a young woman trying to figure herself out. Wings of Desire was about an angel who was weary. As he walked around the sooty gray urban landscape, he could hear people’s thoughts. The words, sounding like papery whispers, would flood him and the burden of so many voices, so many worries and desires, was taking its toll on the angel.

This has always stayed with me. It’s easy to forget that each and every person we pass has their own internal monologues running through their heads. They have private thoughts and preoccupations that are given body and pulled into long swirling strands by words, silent words. When I circle the lake, I’m usually by myself and my mind is on fire. I daydream, I analyze, I remember, I imagine, I plan, I brainstorm, I wonder, I decide, I vow, I fret, I exhalt. I take epic journeys forward and back in time. I think about the angel’s burden, the burden of being privy to all of this and I wonder: the woman walking with her head bent slightly to the left, what is she thinking? What if we could hear each other’s thoughts?

soulmateYesterday I stumbled on this tree of wishes at the lake and I was captivated. Flicking gently in the wind are all those voices I wonder about. I stopped and read a few, and then a few more, and then a few more. I couldn’t stop. I don’t know who started it, but people are responding. They are responding with whimsy, with pain, with pleading, with wide-eyed hope, with pragmatism, with honesty. As I read, I could hear the whispers: I wish my mother would stop fighting with my brother. I wish for a clean bill of health at my next check up. I wish for a dog. I wish for equal rights for all regardless of race or sexual orientation. I wish for world peace. I wish for lots of snow this winter. I wish K would propose to me. I wish for our cancer journey to be short and our outcome to be a miracle. I wish for my baby to be healthy. I wish for a happy marriage and lots of babies. I wish for more lake friends. I wish that I get divorced and have my kids 90 % of the time. I wish for love, happiness, success and confidence for my child. I wish my knees would stop hurting. I wish. I wish. I wish.

MontipenIn case you’re wondering, she wishes for dolphins to swim in the lake.

And me? Well, only the tree and the air and anyone listening to the whispers can know.

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