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Window Shopping... Wishing... Hoping

by Stan Scislowski

I think there are many people of my age who, as I did, way back in those now distant and dim days of the Great Depression, enjoyed window shopping or pouring through catalogues. Few of our parents had much money to spend on food and clothing, or all the other things needed to survive, let alone the frivolous things their children yearned for.

Oh, how I wished I could have all those wonderful things my gaze fell upon. How those wishes burned deep. But, I knew in my heart that my wishes would likely remain only day dreams.

Now, think for a moment how things would have changed (but not necessarily for the better), if we had had the money to buy whatever our hearts desired without a moment’s hesitation. I’m certain that we would no longer have had anything to wish for, and before long, boredom would have set in.

Is it any wonder why some people who have money far beyond the point of decency and fairness, live basically unhappy lives? Why? They have lost the one thing that makes life worth living, and that one thing is “hope,” a hope for something good to come along, be it large, or be it small, be it expensive, or be it something you can’t put a value on.

When I was a year or two past the toddler stage, especially when Christmas was not far off, I used to lie on the floor face down with an Eaton’s catalogue and leaf through the pages in the toy section. My eyes would widen as visions of owning all those wonderful toys danced through my head. Although I very rarely, if ever, got what I wished for, those were magic moments for me and I reveled in them. My hopes and daydreams of acquiring all those good things made the day go so much better.

When I grew into my early teens, my wishes evolved from wanting toys to having a chemistry laboratory, just like Thomas Edison had, with which I might concoct all sorts of magic compounds that mankind could benefit from. I did eventually acquire a laboratory, (though no great discoveries came about despite my tireless efforts), and this did show me that sometimes wishes do come true, even though they might not be exactly as you dreamed they would.

When I found myself desperately trying to stay alive during the days of battle in WWII, I also found myself hoping and wishing for many things. I wished for, or looked forward to, any change for the better in the rations; I hoped I’d get a spell of leave away from the dangers and terrors of the front, even if it was for only a day; I yearned for a letter or two from home, or a parcel of goodies that would make the day a little special. And, on the cold, rainy days of late November, while on our way down some shell-beaten road, I hoped we’d end up in a house with a roof intact, just to get out of the rain. When this occasionally did happen, what a noticeable improvement in my spirits!

Yes “hope” is what kept me going in the right frame of mind during all those hard years. When hope is absent, the spirit flees, and the days ahead are not worth looking forward to.

Even though I’m now living a life of comfort and am free of want, there remains that desire to own something new and exciting. But these days I just can’t justify spending the big money on it!

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