What’s the Plan, Man?

The difference between wishing and hoping is action.
What’s the Plan, Man?
(frank mckenna/Unsplash)
Jeff Minick

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

So begins the centuries-old proverb and nursery rhyme that some still repeat today as a warning, usually to children. Others have never heard this adage and have no intention of riding a horse, but like children blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, they believe that wishing for something will make it so. They are devotees of that Disney philosopher, Jiminy Cricket:

“When you wish upon a star “Makes no difference who you are “Anything your heart desires “Will come to you”

Recently, I became involved for a short time with a 21-year-old Cricketeer, a zoomer who has looks, intelligence, and charm to burn. He’ll be married in just a few months and wants someday to be wealthy. He’s got everything going for him except a job. There are a lot of opportunities, but somehow he hasn’t quite made the connection between working and earning money.

Right now, this young man is living on wishes rather than on hope.

Wishes and hopes are similar in that they both involve dreams for the future, but there the resemblance ends. Hope belongs to a person with a plan who intends to take that blueprint and build from it. This is the young person who says, “I plan to get my degree in history, go to law school, and then hope to open my own practice.”

The person who lives by wishes may dream the same dream, but he’s like the guy rubbing a brass bottle while expecting a genie to pop out in a puff of smoke. He may have desires to achieve wealth or satisfy an ambition, but his plan is all clouds and vapors.

If we consider U.S. culture today, we find it teeming with those who wish rather than with those who pin their hopes on a solid plan. “I wish I’d stayed in school,” some people complain, failing to see that a degree in no way guarantees success in life and that their wish is an obstacle to their natural potential. Some of those who have given themselves over to drugs and alcohol are men and women broken by wishes rather than by plans. Others, especially young men, are addicted to electronic drugs. They waste hours a day playing games on their devices while wishing they were studying harder in school or applying themselves more diligently at work.

In his article “Where Have All the Good Men Gone?” Bradford Wilcox of the Institute for Family Studies reported hearing that question frequently from female students at the University of Virginia, where he teaches: “Where are the good guys? The guys interested in commitment, and the guys who have drive, ambition, and purpose?”

Mr. Wilcox examined several factors here, from the relative immaturity of males of this age when compared to their female counterparts to the fact that many of these young men were raised without fathers. All of these factors play a part, certainly, but what is also evident is that this immaturity leads them to make wishes rather than plans and hopes for the future.

“Our nation’s young men are floundering,” as Mr. Wilcox correctly noted, “as they make the transition from adolescence to young adulthood,” and part of that floundering is caused by mistaking, as children often do, wishes for hopes.

In his memoir “Education of a Wandering Man,” Louis L’Amour, famed for his novels about the American West, recounted his youth during the Great Depression. For him, it was a time of taking whatever temporary jobs came his way, some of them rough and physically brutal, while pursuing his dream of becoming a writer. At one point, L’Amour wrote: “I never felt, as some have, that I deserved special treatment from life, and I do not recall ever complaining that things were not better. Often I wished they were, and often found myself wishing for some sudden windfall that would enable me to stop wandering and working and settle down to simply writing. Yet it was necessary to be realistic.”

Dreams, hopes, and realism go hand-in-hand. A future made up only of wishes assures failure and self-destruction.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust On Their Wings,” and two works of nonfiction, “Learning As I Go” and “Movies Make The Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va.
Related Topics