The Wishing Wall

This is the wishing wall. Actually, it’s a wall of the Leaning Tower of Kazan, the Söyembikä Tower. This tower is listed on Wikipedia’s page of “List of Leaning Towers” alongside the Leaning Tower of Piza. Our tour guide told us that there is a common belief in Kazan that those who place their hands on the tower and speak their wish to the wall will see it fulfilled. I can’t find anything on Google to support that claim, but I made a wish there, so I’m claiming it as my own wishful myth if nothing else.

It was a calming experience, a moment of peace that matched the spirit of the half-dozen cathedrals and mosques that we saw today. I only worry about two things: (1) I didn’t say my wish out loud, and speaking it aloud may have been part of the tradition. I thought it very clearly, but years of playground threats have somehow covered my wishes with silence. “If you tell anyone your wish, it will never come true!” I wonder where this idea got started, that sharing a dream makes it un-come-truable. Wouldn’t it be the opposite? Wouldn’t having a second mind seeing the same vision bring it that much closer to reality? But maybe sharing a wish makes it something more like a goal, which is much more tangible and less romantic and can never “come true” no matter how hard you try but can only be “achieved.” (2) I gave my wish a time limit for it to come true. The story of the wall says nothing about this, but wishing with a deadline in mind just seems like bad form in general. One shouldn’t presume to ask specifics from the already too generous but vaguely interpreting cosmos. The same hesitancy is also often said of praying, I think. But our mortals minds are bound by time, bound by the future more than we imagine. We plan, schedule, figure, reckon, guess, and mistake. I don’t know if that tendency to plan a wish coming true into my timetable should be chastised or not.

One last thought: this side of the wall forms an obtuse angle with the ground; the building is leaning away from us. The guide led us to this wall, and I didn’t get a chance to ask if it was just this wall where the wishing happened. And why this wall? Why press against the tower in the direction it’s already falling? I find more symbolism in the idea of holding the wall up, of the memory of a thousand hands somehow defying gravity and stone, especially since this tower has lasted for centuries. But maybe there’s something to be said for accepting time and gravity and all the inevitables. But then why do the people pressing offer up their irrational, weightless, wafting dreams, so far from the reach of gravity? I find it all very curious.