“On Love and Fresh Water” by Yara Y. Zgheib. ©2015 Yara Y. Zgheib. Published with permission. All rights reserved.

We came across a wishing well the other day. I was given one penny, one wish, and a little over one minute to decide how to use it. A minute is very little time when it comes to determining one’s happiness; I take wishing wells seriously.

My mind dashed to the greats for inspiration: Cicero, who said that all he needed was a garden and a library: Einstein, who wished for a table, a chair, a bowl of fruit, and a violin: Thoreau – solitude, and perhaps a single gentle rain. Sandburg – a little love, and a voice to speak to in the day end. I grouped those on one side, along with Lao Tzu, Confucius, Diogenes, Jesus, Mohammad, William Morris, Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and my good friends Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Ernest Hemingway in his earlier, poor Paris days.

On the other side, I placed Wallis Simpson, the once Duchess of Windsor, who said, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” With her, all who ever said the same about shoes, clothes, food, housing, and jewelry. So the advertising and marketing departments of every single private and public sector manufacturer of goods and provider of services since the Industrial Revolution.

Once upon a time, someone in France coined the expression “vivre d’amour et d’eau fraîche.” To live simply and freely, “on love and fresh water alone.” I look around, and the world today does not seem to work that way. “People no longer live by sun and moon, by wind and stars, but by some slyly contrived conventions known as clocks and calendars.” Social conventions and expectations, promotions and clearance sales. Descartes, in his day, may have thought (but in this age) “we own, therefore we are.” Continue reading »