There was once a small shop hidden away somewhere out on the edge of the universe. It had long since lost its sign — it had been carried away by a hurricane, and the new owner had not taken the trouble to put up a new one since all the locals knew what you could buy there: it sold wishes.
The range of wishes which it sold was huge. One could buy almost anything there: huge yachts, new apartments, marriage; the post of vice-president in a large corporation; money, children, a dream job, the perfect body, success in a competition, big cars, power, success, and many, many other things. The only things it didn’t sell were life and death — this was dealt with by head office, which was located in another galaxy.
Every visitor to the shop first of all had to find out the price they would have to pay to achieve their wish.
The prices varied a great deal. For example, to get that dream job a person had to give up any stability and predictability which they had in their life, as well as the freedom to plan their future. They would also have to give up their belief in their own abilities and the opportunity to work where they wanted in future.
Power cost somewhat more: one had to give up on some of one’s convictions, the ability to make a rational argument and to speak the truth to people, and to renege on the ability to care about what others thought of you.
Some of the prices in the shop seemed strange. Marriage, for instance, cost virtually nothing, whereas a happy life was very expensive: one had to accept personal responsibility for one’s own life, had to have knowledge of his or her true desires, and had to be prepared to reject the urge to conform to the beliefs and lifestyle of those around them. The would-be buyer also had to appreciate what they had, truly allow themselves to be happy, understand their own worth and significance as a human being, and be prepared to risk losing some friends and acquaintances.
Not everyone who came to the shop was prepared to pay the price for achieving their desires. Some immediately became disappointed and left when they saw what their wish would cost them. Others stood and thought about their options for a long time, counting up what they had to offer in exchange. Some complained to the owner that the prices were too high, and asked for a discount.
But there were also those, of course, who handed over everything demanded of them and exchanged it for that precious dream they’d often longed for. The other customers stared enviously at this happy minority, muttering among themselves that they must be friends of the owner and thus were getting what they wanted without much sacrifice.
People often suggested to the owner that he lower his prices, saying that it was a logical idea if he wanted to increase the number of buyers he got. But he always refused, since the high quality of his products would suffer.
Whenever he was asked whether he ever worried that his business would fail, the owner just shook his head and answered that there would always be brave souls out there who were ready to take the risk and change their life, give up on their habitual comforts, and who believed in themselves enough to pursue their dreams.
It seems it was not for nothing that he had hung a sign on the shop door: ’If your wish hasn’t come true, then you haven’t earned it yet.’