Wishes, hopes and regrets (or: where’s the magic?)

This week, we were up to the unit on conditionals, and I noticed the caption Wish and Hope in the class activity book.

My imagination went wild immediately; although, be honest:  isn’t the topic of wishes and hopes enough to make any introverted, creative individual diverge into an ecstatic reverie?

Wishes… hopes… palm trees swaying in the breeze… idyllic moments in the hammock… refreshing breezes blowing off a turquoise Caribbean Sea…

Oops! Back to Quebec City, minus 20 degrees and icy snow blowing outside. Reality check!

“Oh well, we’ll have an interesting discussion together anyhow!”, I mused, and diverted my attention back to the class about to begin.

The Conversation Muse was favourable, and the students immediately got into the mood and started answering the questions that were written on the whiteboard: What do you wish? What do you hope?

But what’s the difference?”, one asked, stumped, after misusing the word wish.

Wish and Hope: Non-Identical Twins

We began brainstorming on the subtle difference between the two.

Wish – a desire or ‘blessing’, generally less likely to be fulfilled (e.g. I wish you a Merry Christmas! I wish I were a millionaire.)

Hope – a desire for the future, more likely, feasible. (e.g. I hope we get a lot of snow this winter. I hope to travel the world one day.)

This led us to talk about past events, in which wish can also express a regret.

Regrets, the shattered shards of shiny wishes and hopes that somehow weren’t fulfilled.

Ah regrets! Now there was an interesting topic to get into with a group of adults!

I wish I hadn’t had the accident.”, contributed a student who had experienced a collision that Monday.

Another student refused to admit what she wished. It was just too personal nature to share. We all laughed, totally understanding her reticence.

Who doesn’t have regrets?”, we commiserated together.

Regrets, the shattered shards of shiny wishes and hopes that somehow weren’t fulfilled.

The promise of When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true, broken.

Life is not like in Disney!”, a student concluded with a guffaw, albeit, a sad guffaw.

So, where’s the magic? 

The magic was operating. As each class member shared a regret, the sympathetic listeners began asking questions and encouraging comments, as though to somehow restore the sharer’s hope.

Why didn’t you do it? Why didn’t it work out? Is it really too late?

And ain’t that the truth?!

It has been said: As long as there is life, there is hope.

And there is. There is always today. Makes me wonder:

  • What do you wish?
  • What do you hope?
  • What are your regrets?

I like the following quote by Michael J. Fox:

Image result for there's always failure. There's always loss.

So, that leaves one last question to ponder:

  • What can you do today to start moving towards the fulfillment of a wish or hope?

Drop me a line in the Comments section! I’d love to hear from you.

– Claire :o)

Here’s to 2019!

In one word, how would you describe your Christmas vacation?

I gave each of my adult business English students a pale blue hashtag-imprinted post-it. The students kind of gave me a funny look, then took out their pens and began to write.

When they were done, I asked them to stick them on the conference room whiteboard.

“What should I write?”, I asked, thinking aloud.  

“Wonderful!”, someone quipped.

“Not so sure…”, I responded, then thought for a moment. “Sure, it was wonderful”. I repeated the word as wonder – full for extra emphasis.

“Teaching moment!”, I realized. I can teach them about the many meanings of the word ‘wonder’. I laughed. It was wonder-full. Full of wonder. Wonder can mean awe, surprise, to be stunned, to be amazed, to be impressed by something bigger than self.

I then asked the group to choose one of the papers and interview the person who wrote it.

Once we had reviewed open and closed question formation with past tense verbs, we began.

My turn. “So, why was your Christmas vacation wonderful?”, the student asked.

I explained. It had been a wonder-full period.

My brother-in-law passed away suddenly on December 31 from cancer. Shock. Disbelief. Anger at apparent medical error. Pleasure and pride to hear of how his colleagues had honoured him at work by wearing bowties, in his own signature style.

“How is that wonder-full?”, you may ask. Three ways. Three words: life, language, learning.  

Life. It’s precious, out of our control. You never know how long you have.

Language. The Saturday before passing away, Ben, my brother-in-law was looking through the photos of the trip to Switzerland he and my sister had taken last summer. My sister later shared some of the comments he had made about the trip. Those words became extra meaningful, and valuable, personal memories. Words are powerful.

Learning. I spent the first week of 2019 at my sister’s place. I realized firsthand how important it is to have records up-to-date, in order and accessible to get the legal and financial paperwork underway. I saw the cards and flowers and meals caring neighbours and friends dropped off, sent and had delivered. I witnessed my sister’s reaction to sympathetic calls and texts. I was floored. It was a sobering, yet essential, learning experience.

Throughout the year to come, we’ll all have our share of life, language and learning To what extent we make 2019 wonder-full, will be up to us.

To varying degrees, our language class ended with us all reflecting on the following three questions:

  • What can we do here and now to make the best of the life I have?
  • What can I say today to those around me to encourage and help them?
  • What can I learn today from what I am experiencing?

Whatever the following months hold, have a wonder-full 2019!

Any comments or ideas? Just drop a note below. I’d love to hear from you! – Claire