1 : a light that appears at night over marshy ground
2 : a misleading or elusive goal or hope
it's fair to say that most of my elusive and misleading hopes pertain to people and relationships. it's difficult to think of false hopes existing without some form of human intervention. i guess i might stumble upon a pair of shoes at the good will that are my size and really hope that they will fit but apparently the previous owner had absurdly wide feet (this just happened on tuesday). i don't know if that's necessarily being mislead.
it's interesting that the first definition occurs in nature and seemingly involves no human intervention. mirriam-webster's etymology explains that the specific light definition one refers to is phosphorescent gases emitted from decaying plants. travelers would spy them from across a marsh and go to investigate, subsequently getting led into the swampy mire. but WILL O' THE WISP is the personification of that light, as described in an 18th century fairy tale. so, i suppose, by personifying it, there is some human implication involved.
there is a screened in porch attached to the eastern side of my mother's house. two sets of french doors lead from the living room out onto the porch. behind the door frames on the porch side there are hooks mounted onto the wall incase one wishes to keep the doors from swinging shut. we never used these hooks, and they were in fact painted over a few times and henceforth stuck to the wall. one day when i was a child i decided to pry both hooks from their embedded state. i don't know why. it was summer and i was probably bored and lonely.
the next day i noticed that one of the hooks was stuck again. so i pried it back off the wall. the day after that, the other hook was stuck. i detached it. this went on for a few days, going back and forth, one would be stuck, the other free, a perfect alternation. i did not know how to explain this phenomenon. after a few days i told my mother about it, and she probably said, wow, honey, how strange, only ever wanting to encourage our imaginations. there was no way she would have even hypothesized the meaning behind this random occurrence.
i, of course, believed the events were under some supernatural influence. i observed them for several days. back and forth, one hook would be stuck, the other free. and the next day it would switch. i really wanted to believe there was some greater force here—that someone or something was trying to communicate with me through these hooks.
i don't remember how long this went on or when it stopped. i probably left the house one day, broke my routine, and lost interest after returning. i still don't really know how to explain this phenomenon. i want to say it had something to do with the new england humidity.
is this a WILL O' THE WISP? was i mislead by levels of humidity to believe that there were supernatural forces occurring? i'm not sure what i was mislead from—my childhood summers hardly had an objective.
let's just say that i was led astray from the summer reading list by supernatural beings that were fucking with my head via the less-than-random manipulation of wall hooks. maybe i should try and turn this into a fairy tale.