The saying goes: ‘Be careful what you wish for’.  The literal meaning is that if you wish for a state of being or an event, your wish may be granted, only to find out that the wish brought with it a new set of problems that may be less favourable than the original circumstances.

Almost exactly three years ago I was in Trieste, Italy on a business trip.  If you have not been to Trieste, you should make the effort and visit this lovely part of the world, when the pandemic is no longer dictating our lives.

I thought at the time that the entire purpose of the trip was questionable in terms of real value for the business I represented.  As things turned out, the outcome supported my suspicions.  Vacuous meetings concluded little or nothing but everyone, including me, asserted how useful the whole experience had been, and like a holiday romance, we all promised to keep in touch, but had no intention of doing so.

Travelling back to Cyprus, I remember thinking to myself: ‘I am not enjoying this life style, I long for a more stable kind of work, which does not involve so much travel’.  On average, I traveled about 16 to 20 times a year, to far flung places from Kuala Lumper to New York.  However, for various reasons, I did not think I would be able to do anything about my situation at the time or in the foreseeable future.

few more trips came along which I fulfilled and returned to base, feeling exhausted mentally and physically.  By July 2018 fate came along and in a perverse way, granted me my Trieste wish to reduce my travel dramatically.  In fact, it reduced many things dramatically and irreversibly.  I was diagnosed with a serious illness which meant, I needed to be in one place while I was being treated.  I then returned England in early 2019 to convalesce at home.  Then the Corona Virus pandemic came along and imposed even further restrictions on my movements through lockdowns and my doctors’ instructions to be extremely careful not to contract the virus.  So, apart from the flight back to England, I have not been on airplanes, trains or buses ever since July 2018.  The longest trip I took was less than 100 miles by car to London mainly for medical reasons.

History has many examples of people wishing and praying for salvation from their cruel and uncaring rulers, only to find themselves under a worse regime.  In the many travels I referred to above, I had to visited Libya, Syria and Yemen.  The fear and oppression were palpable everywhere you went and if you were trusted enough by those you came in contact with, they described awful leadership with cruel enforcers that ensured the maintenance of the status quo.  Fearing for my safety, I could not leave these otherwise lovely countries fast enough!  In the last ten years, all three countries had dramatic changes that culminated in a worse state of affairs to the extent that they are now broken societies; renegade countries, if you like.

Going further back in history, we still refer to business-clever individuals who have a habit of succeeding and building a fortune as having the ‘Midas Touch’.  King Midas from Greek Mythology prayed to the gods that he may acquire the ability to turn everything he touched to gold.  He seemed to have caught the gods on a good day when they were in a generous mood who granted him his wish.  Sure enough, whatever he touched such as wood, base metals, glass, etc. turned to solid gold.  So did his food!  Eventually, King Midas died of starvation because of his new found power.  Now, we only reference King Midas as someone with immense talent to create wealth.

My favourite example is a fictional one; without any pretensions to be part of the canon of Greek Mythology, it nonetheless makes the point in an amusing way.

A man finds an old and rusty lantern.  He picks it up and wonders if it might have a value so, he proceeds to clean it.  After a while, out comes a genie which had been trapped in the lantern for hundreds of years.  The genie is so grateful to this man for freeing him, he grants him three wishes.  Partly because he did not believe the genie had the power to grant any wishes and partly because he had not expected the question so, without much consideration, he goes for a first wish: ‘I would like a bottle of ice-cold beer that never empties, no matter how much I and my friends drink from it’.  The genie snaps his fingers and out comes this bottle of beer glistening with cold droplets and an empty glass.  The man picks it and pour himself a frothy drink, then another and another.  The beer is the best he has ever had and sure enough, the bottle kept on refilling every time he filled the glass with the amber brew.  Having consumed so much beer, the man is now well and truly drunk!  The genie then asks him: ‘Now, you have two more wishes left, what are they my lord and master?’  The man replies: ‘I would like two more bottles of the same please’.