I wish it were easier to effect kaizen ideas in the world.
I wish we could see more Changes-into-Good (改善).
I’ve written (spoken?) a few words about the Imagined World (a.k.a. the conditional or the subjunctive mood) arguing that it is more appealing and more informative to both learners and teachers of English to approach it using a matrix based on meaning.
I’ve pointed out that
- “If I walk fast, I will probably reach the station in time” this I is talking about a realistic Imagined world (something that is likely to happen in Reality).
Whereas, if I say
- “If I walked fast, I would reach the station in time” this I is describing an unrealistic Imagined world, because ”I don’t intend to walk fast, so I will (probably) not walk fast, so I will (probably) not reach the station in time (in Reality)”. Nonetheless, I can imagine this possibility: “If I walked fast… (=No intention of walking fast)”.
- Of course, we also have the impossible Imagined world: “If I had walked fast yesterday, I would have reached the station in time” means “Too late. I didn’t reach the station in time (in Reality).” This is an Imagined world which is no longer possible.
Now, wish is similar, but a wish is obviously not realistic, a wish is always set in contrast with the (current) Reality and it’s highly improbable (at the very most), if not downright impossible (if we’re talking about things from a Past point-of-view).
- “I wish I had walked fast yesterday (then I would have reached the station).” “I wish I had done something” means that in Reality “I didn’t do it”. (So, impossible now)
- “I wish I walked fast” sounds a bit strange. A more natural one would be “I wish I could walk fast” (meaning that in Reality “I cannot walk fast”, that it is unrealistic to expect me to be able to walk fast).
It’s a wish expressed in relation to things we cannot control (or we think we cannot control).
I wish it were easier to see more kaizen applied in the world.
I wish it were easier to effect (=bring about) such Changes-into-Better in the world.
The question (arising in this dialogue) is
Why imagine different worlds? Why talk about
- something which is not real? (imagined)
- something which is not even likely? (unrealistic)
- something which is not even possible anymore because it is too late? (impossible)
(The professor’s answer is that) Simply talking about that which is Real is often not enough to express how we actually feel about this Reality. Suppose I tell you:
“I’m sorry, John, I cannot help you”.
You have just told me you lost your wallet, you need to pay your electricity bill today, and you have no chance to do so unless someone lends you the money. To which I say:
“I’m sorry, John, I cannot help you”.
This is a statement which is very direct in putting forth the facts.
Why is it that I cannot help you? Well, it’s not clear.
- Maybe I don’t have the money.
- Maybe I don’t want to help you. Who knows?
But what are my feelings towards John? Well, if I’d like to express my sympathy, if I’d like to talk about a different world (one in which I were able to help John), I can say
“I wish I could help you. If I could help you, I would.”
The meaning is the same:
“I will not help you (in Reality)”,
but I’m expressing something which is essentially a refusal in positive terms:
“I wish (yeah?) I could help you. I’m on your side.”
In this Imagined (unrealistic, improbable) world I add some extra information:
- Despite my real lack of (financial) support, I am on your side psychologically speaking.
- I might be on your side in a future, Imagined world when the situation is such that I can help you.
- Maybe I don’t have the money today, but next time you lose your wallet and you need the money, (who knows?) I might be able to help you.
In an Imagined world, the possibility (of helping you in the Future) is not zero, even if in the Real world I cannot help you (in the Present).
It is also another way to add information about something that happened in the Past:
In Reality, I didn’t attend as many aikido lessons as I could have (when I had the chance to do so), but I wish I had gone every day to the dojo (the Place where one can learn about the Way 道場).
It’s too late for me to go to that place (I don’t live in that city anymore), but I can express my feelings of regret:
I can say that I’m feeling BAD about missed (Past) opportunities in a way that may help me make BETTER decisions and change my approach in the Future (which is, of course, an Imagined world).
We insert more meaning in our communication practice when we talk not just about the Real world, but also about the Imagined world. The Imagined world
- of our feelings
- of our wishes
- of our unrealized selves
- of our better selves
- of our better actions.
And that is the starting point for any kaizen: Imagine a better world.
I wish you would.
I wish we all could.
I wish we all did.
I wish this were not unrealistic.