What is precious to you? What do you want to get or to see or to do? What would you give for love, glory, money, or time?
Anything? Well, here is a little game to play. It won’t take long. Or, I should say, it will take no longer than you want it to.
What would you give for any item on this list? The form of payment is, in most cases, up to you. Perhaps you would beg or borrow or steal to get your heart’s desire. But the “payment” must be equal to the value that you assign to the thing you want.
- A ticket in the best possible location for your favorite team’s championship game.
- Being able to relive the best day of your life.
- A cure for cancer available to the whole world.
- A day in the body of the person you’d most like to be, with all the abilities of that person.
- One less year in your life with the guarantee that you would be the wealthiest individual on earth for all the remaining years.
- To be sexual irresistible to those you most desire.
- A change in the one physical feature you like least about yourself.
- World peace.
- The health of those you love.
- The love of the person from whom you most wish it, whether it be a romantic partner or a parent or a sibling or a child.
- Contentment. That is, perfect acceptance of whatever is your situation in life.
- Freedom from your conscience.
- A definitive answer as to whether heaven exists and what it consists of, if it does exist.
- Immortality (in this life) in a body that would never age beyond the age you wish.
- A chance to do one thing over — go back to that moment with all you now know and try again.
- The infallible insight as to whether people are telling the truth; to see through every deception, no matter how big or small.
- The ability to do one thing you can’t do any more.
- The gift of living in the moment.
- The ability to remember every second of every day of your life.
- The capacity to forget anything that you wish to set aside in your past.
- The talent to produce at least one masterpiece of art, music, or literature.
- Great recognition during your lifetime that will not endure after it ends; or recognition that will come only posthumously.
- To be the best possible parent.
- To have a job that you can’t wait to get to each morning; one that produces complete fulfillment in doing the work itself, not because of what you produce or the compensation or recognition you receive for it.
- To be the author of a great scientific discovery.
- A life that allows you to see all of the most beautiful places in the world.
- The gift of being a great teacher.
- Loyal and loving friends.
- A partner who provides you with the most sexually satisfying times imaginable for as long as you both live.
- The experience of living in a drug induced state of fantasy, such that you would have the imaginary experience of anything your mind could envision, even though none of it would be real.
- The knowledge, in the last possible moment of your life, that you have followed the path suggested in Micah 6:8: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
As you might have noticed, some of these things may actually be available to you at no cost; other than effort and, perhaps, a bit of luck. But, many of them are mutually exclusive, as you’ve probably also observed: you can’t have them all.
Life is a little like a birthday card I’ve seen. On the front it shows a picture of a beautiful woman:
And then, a picture of a birthday cake. It reads something like this: “This is Edith and this is your cake. You have to choose one, because…”
“You can’t have your cake and Edith, too!”
The top painting is a detail from The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. The second image represents a Tough Choice; the third is a photo called Birthday Cake by Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Milan, 2002. The last of these was sourced from Wikimedia Commons.