Be Careful What You Wish For

Dear mortal,

I would like to introduce myself to you: my name is Azur and I am a genie. If you were told that there are no genies in this world, then you have been lied to, for I most certainly am a genie.  Or a djinn, as some used to call my kind. But I am a modern genie and I prefer this term to the old names for me and my kin. We were not made from Shaytan as some men have claimed. Indeed, Shaytan is not even a genie: he is a man. This is obvious, don’t you think, if you consider his pride, his great sorrow, his humanity?

But I digress. I do this often when I have company. I am aware that some do not think that to write and have someone read one’s writing could be considered company in any sense of the word. But these people are wrong. For what is company but to know a little of the mind of another? However, although this letter is company, I recognise that this is not a conversation, for you cannot ask whichever questions you will of me. I have realised, over the course of my long life, that I must be careful in conversations with mortals, for they always rush forward to the end of our dialogues: to the three wishes I am obliged to grant them. I find this imprudent. And so I have written this letter to give men and women time to learn a little about me, my nature, and the nature of wishes before we meet face to face. This is something new I am trying. I am a modern genie, after all.

I will start by telling you about myself. As I said at the beginning, my name is Azur, which means ‘blue’. This might be humorous to you, for I am also a blue genie, as all of the most powerful genies are. Some of my brothers and sisters are touchy on this subject, but it is an irrefutable fact: our colour matches our power, and some of us have simply always been blue. Few genies ever change to blue from the lesser colours, but it can happen if we better ourselves. And genies can better themselves, for we have freewill and hope in our hearts—just as humans do. Or perhaps you thought it was man who had a monopoly on hope? Well you were wrong, and now you know better. So I have bettered you, no? Perhaps your colour will change also?

I am sorry. I digress. I was telling you about myself. I was telling you that I am blue. But this one word alone does not quite explain my colour, for it is more correct to say that I am all of the blues, my skin a mixture of every shade and hue of blue you can see (and even a few you cannot). My body was forged in the dark fire and gravity at the centre of the North Star, and my soul was grown as a seed in the first garden—the one that is now lost to us all. I am short for my kind, standing at only seven foot. I like to read books about science, about geography and biology. And I like writing my thoughts down. But more than anything else, I like to grant good wishes to good men and women, to people who deserve them.

This leads me on to the second and third parts of my introduction—although, now that I think on it, perhaps it is better to call this an invitation. I do not know which is more appropriate and I hold my hands up and admit that semantics, although entirely essential to my nature and to the nature of wishes, is something I have always struggled with. I have tried to understand all words: their meanings, implied meanings, double and triple meanings.  I have read books on linguistics, on logic, and poetry. I have even written books on each of these subjects. Yet I still sometimes find myself stumped by a particularly insoluble good wish. It is easy to twist words to punish someone with a wicked heart, but it is often impossible to untangle the semantic knots of a wish that I want to work out well for a person. I must emphasise the great cliché of my kind: be careful what you wish for.

You have no idea how it frustrates me when I try to give a good person everything they ask for—which is always little, for good people are not greedy—only for their wish to hurt them in some inadvertent way. The world is a complexity of dominos branching off in every direction, and they are set precariously on top of a rickety, uneven table. One cause leads to an effect, and another and another, ad infinitum. So I say this again, with all the gravity of my North Star: be careful what you wish for.

 But it’s not just the good to whom I grant good wishes: I’ve been known to help the hopeful and the clever as well. And I cannot deny someone who has love in their heart. I most enjoy granting good wishes to scientists, for they are often a combination of all of the virtues I value most. I once took Galileo Galilei on a guided tour of the Milky Way and I pointed out my favourite stars as we moved along. It was a memorable trip but that wish cost him his freedom as they called him a heretic and locked him away.

But I digress. I have told you a little of my nature, and you now understand I will do everything in my considerable power to help you if you are good. If you are wicked, I suggest that you avoid me altogether. Though perhaps you think I will not know that you are wicked? Let me disillusion you. Wickedness is as clear to me as a person’s height or the colour of their eyes. Perhaps you think that you can trick me into granting you a good wish even if you are a bad person? Perhaps you think you can word your wish in such a way that even I, Azur, who was born in the North Star and knows all of the names of God, will not be able to turn your wish against you? Well, if this is who you are, then I extend my hand in invitation to you, for you are more than welcome to try me. You never know, perhaps I might consider your hubris endearing and take pity on you. Or perhaps not.

I would like to tell you about wishes and how to make them so that they do not hinder or harm you. And if you should come to me, I hope that you heed everything I have told you and will tell you, for it is almost time for you to make an important decision.

The trick to wishes is not to be clever. I used to think that cleverness was the key, and that a philosopher might be able to word their wish with such logical perfection and utter lack of ambiguity that the outcome could be as safe and certain as the Sun’s rising in the east of tomorrow. But cleverness is not the key at all, and it has taken me uncountable millennia to realise this.

There is, in fact, such a thing as a perfect wish and I can show you how to ask it, but first I need for you to clear your mind and forget about your worries for the moment.

Have you done as I have asked? Okay. Now we are ready to begin:

Imagine the one person whom you love above all others. See their face in your mind’s eye as clearly as you can. Think of how this person feels under your fingertips and how they make you feel in your heart. If you think you do not love any one person more than any other, then I suggest you choose one of the many people you love. Perhaps the person you choose is your dearest love after all? If you love no one, then think of a face you used to love, once, deep in your past. If you’ve never loved anyone, then I am truly sorry but I do not wish to meet you and I ask politely that you post this letter on. You will forget about it, and me, as soon as the letter falls to the top of the pile in the post box.

Imagine the face of your dearest one. Allow yourself hear their voice and smell their hair and recall them in the ways that have made them so special to you. Ask yourself if you would wish for your own happiness or for theirs.

Now imagine you have never known your dearest one; that you have never even heard their name. Ask yourself if they would be any less significant or any less deserving of happiness than they had been moments before, when you knew them well.

Now imagine all of the people in the world who might be someone’s dearest person, each for their own unique reasons. Imagine how many wonderful people there are in this world, each special and irreplaceable to at least one other person. Feel how you might feel for each of them if they were your dearest one. And if you can see and feel everything I have asked of you, then you must come to me at once and we shall do such good together in this world.

If you do not feel or see the things I have asked of you, do not fear. You are not necessarily wicked. Perhaps you are just a little selfish, or proud? I do not judge you for this, but I know that no one with pride or greed or fear in their heart can make a good wish. That is not to say that you are not free to come and try me, if you so desire. And, as I say, if you do not intend to make a wish, please post this letter in the envelope it arrived in and you will forget about me immediately.

I have come to the end of this letter and I hope I have been of some company to you. Please come to me if you wish. But come will full understanding of the risks. We can change the World, you and I, but I sincerely hope it is for the better. I am in the smallest room in your dwelling that has a door. Simply close the door if it is not closed already and knock upon it seven times. After the seventh knock, come in.

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