A man named Elimu visits the Wishing Well.
"Wishing Well, I wish for the capacity to experience pleasure again," says Elimu.
The Wishing Well is puzzled. Surely all men experience pleasure, and so should Elimu.
"Have you never tasted pleasure before, of any kind?" asks the Wishing Well.
"Sure I have. But over the decades I've been working hard, being prudent with everything I do. Now that I've come of age, I am reasonably successful and comfortable."
The Wishing Well senses there's something more. "Go on."
"My wife says I don't enjoy anything. I don't celebrate anything. I thought about it and it's true."
"But are you fulfilled?" ask the Wishing Well.
"Yes, I am fulfilled, I enjoy my work." says Elimu. "But what I'm asking for is much simpler, I wish for the ability to find pleasure in the little things. Food, wine, games, anything at all."
"I can grant you this wish," says the Wishing Well. "But first I have to grant the wish from yesterday, and I shall grant yours tomorrow."
Elimu is delighted.
The Wishing Well continues. "Though if I do that, granting your wish will be pointless, you won't feel the pleasure anyway."
"Why not? What was the wish from yesterday?" asks Elimu.
"The wish was to take away all courage from mankind."
"Someone wished away courage from everyone?" Elimu is puzzled.
"Yes, it's an odd request that I'm obligated to entertain. But quite importantly, without courage you wouldn't feel pleasure at all."
"You see, you've suppressed all sense of human cravings over the years. You did that so well that they are now hidden deep in your psyche you cannot uncover them again."
"That can't be." Elimu in half disbelief.
The Wishing Well continues. "You do that because you know life is hard. You know any pleasure you feel will eventually go away. To lose them is too painful. So you'd rather not have tasted them at all. The best way to do that is to not feel the desire at all. That way you will never have loss because you've never gained."
It starts to make sense for Elimu.
"You are a man of knowledge. Knowledge breeds anxiety, because you know how things unfold. You've paid that price for acquiring knowledge, whether you knew it or not." says the Wishing Well.
It continues. "In order to feel pleasure again, you need courage to face this anxiety. Know that you'll be in danger of being addicted to ecstacy, know that you'll lose it some day. But gain the courage to know that you have the ability to not be hooked on it, that you'll be fine if you lose these worldly pleasures some day."
Elimu considers. "I changed my mind. I wish for courage back tomorrow."
"Wise choice," says the Wishing Well.
This piece was prompted by the writing group Desk Drawer.