A Thousand Paper Cranes

By in


It was origami in the wee hours of the morning.

There are the boats and the planes, but I can never seem to make a crane.  They say that when you make a thousand paper cranes, your wish will come true.  Yet every time I tried to make one, the paper tore up at the wings.  The beak may be a bit skewed, or that I can’t get those even, symmetrical folds that make good paper cranes.

What more for a thousand of them?

Sometimes I think that dreams are reserved for those who can make them happen.  Many people go insane, hurt themselves, and end their lives because of dreams.  Reality sets in all too often and we realize that dreams coming true are anomalies.  “It’s best to let go of your dreams sometimes,” my folks say, echoing the realities of things that to this day, I refuse to accept.  I want to break those barriers.  I want to go over those hurdles.  I want to prove something.  Yet the harder I try, and the further I push myself, I seem to be the worse for it.  I’m like an old machine; I break down more often than I’m worth.  Still, I keep pushing.

I think I deserve a bit of credit for that.

“Why are you doing this?” a friend asked.  Father asked me that question once, as did Mother so many times.  Usually, the pieces of paper in my room contain words and scribbles.  Thoughts, stories, poetry… stuff that could – and should – only be written in ink.  Then again, my friends and parents are right.  I don’t have to do this all the time.  I don’t have to hurt myself doing the thing I love to do the most.  A friend had to lay it on me: if I don’t want to be great, some people do, and I don’t have to die or seriously hurt myself for that to happen.  We all want to be remembered while we’re alive, not when we’re dead.

I can’t help it, I’m predisposed to overkill.

I took out more paper.  It took all the discipline in the world to put my pen down.  Then I started folding.  A plane, a boat, a couple of paper boxes.  I made a few frogs, and then I made up my mind to make a crane, making wishes on every fold and crease.  Somehow, I can never seem to make one that’s good enough for me.  Just like everything else in my life that I find the time to ponder about, I ended up with ten paper cranes.  Imperfect, but cranes nonetheless.  We all have to start somewhere.

Nine hundred and ninety paper cranes to go.

Maybe that wish that comes with a thousand paper cranes is a reminder of how much we have to work for dreams to come true.  Not maybe… of course it is.  You let go of your dreams to chase after them.  You realize your dreams.  You don’t wait for them to become reality.  I looked at my cranes and figured that I didn’t try my best to end up being a champion paper crane-folder.  I crumpled the cranes, took up my pen and a fresh piece of paper, and started writing.

One day soon I’ll make a thousand paper cranes; just not now.

* – Image sourced from the artworks of Miaoyuan Wang

4 comments on “A Thousand Paper Cranes”

  1. Reply

    i made a thousand paper cranes. after the endless monotony, you realize that all you really want is your thumb nail back. (so many tight folds really do a number on it.) i wished for something else, though, and it has yet to come true. but i have to admit, it really brings about a sense of acomplishment and peace of mind when your finished. 🙂

    1. Reply


      That’s awesome. I only made ten in a day, and ended up just crumpling the little birds. I guess what we really do in life is make one crane at a time; realizing one wish at a time.

    • des
    • September 1, 2009

    Asteg, mehn! (a reader here, btw :D)

    Lately, I’ve also been enchanted by this thousand cranes metaphor (i want to use this one as a motif for my stories. Wishes are wishes, and that’s all they are. 99% of its realization lies on the person’s hands, that is, through hardwork. Indeed, the thousand cranes came to be because someone else’s hands toiled for hours to make them.

    The cranes are not the wishes – they are the realization themselves 😀

    Keep on writing! (ako rin! hehe)

    • Cesyl
    • November 4, 2009

    I only stumbled upon your story while looking for an instruction on how to make a paper crane. Only got interested because a friend of mine told me he’s making a thousand as a birthday gift for his partner .. I thought it was so nice him to go out of his way to do that … a true expression of love. I never thought that one can make a wish … i love my friend so much and when i read this . i thought why not make 1000 paper cranes for him! Personally i do not know if I can make it but i would definitely try.

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