Journey With ‘The Wish’

On May 7, 2018, Gregory Counts learned he was a free man. He was going to walk out of prison soon in street clothes and take a good look at the world after 26 years behind bars.

He could only imagine how the world had changed since his incarceration in 1992. Smart phones and wireless internet were a decade away. Email wasn’t a thing yet. Or Facebook. In the years he was incarcerated, his friends would marry, find careers, start families and buy homes.

Greg sat behind bars as an innocent man as more than two decades passed. He was a model prisoner, described as having the best heart. “Patient, sweet and a generous soul” are the words his lawyer uses to describe him.

And that smile?

But in May, Greg was exonerated when a New York State judge found that he was innocent of rape. His exoneration came as a result of a new DNA test and a joint re-investigation. When his accuser was re-interviewed by the district attorney’s office, she admitted for the first time that she had made up the entire accusation against Greg and two other men because her boyfriend owed money to the men.

There’s a lot of things Greg wants to do now and a lot he has to learn about a world that has changed a great deal.

And one thing on that long list is this: he wants to visit Jerusalem.

Jerusalem?

Yes, that centuries-old city where he can look through the lens of our planet’s past and maybe find himself again in all that passionate beauty.

He saw the city of Jerusalem on a television show while he was in prison and was taken with the spirituality of the place, maybe imagining the sounds and the fragrances and all the wide-eyed pilgrims there to look for something greater than themselves. Perhaps he wants to shed some of his own history there; it’s a place of constant renewal.

So, “The Wish” television show is going to take Gregory to Jerusalem.

But, wait, what is “The Wish”?

“The Wish” is an inspiring new television show that I’m involved in that takes people with compelling stories on a journey of their choice.

Our production believes everyone has that one special place in the world they want to see-that deserted beach on the other side of the globe, that magical castle, that crumbling ruin.

But too few people ever make it there.

When I’m working as an archaeological tour director, I recognize that travel to the world’s iconic places is often relegated to those who can afford it. And those who can afford it are often well-traveled and have stopped viewing their experiences with new eyes.

What if, I thought, we could bring those people who would never otherwise see the world’s beautiful places and take them on their own special journeys?

That question was the start of our travel series, and today we are looking to take kids who have never left the city camping in Montana, a Vietnam veteran back to Vietnam, a child of immigrants back to Guatemala to learn about iconic Mayan temples in the jungle so he can learn about his rich heritage.

We believe that when you take off from one place and land in another, your eyes open for the very first time.

Our series pilot was shot near the Arctic Circle. We took a young father who is losing his eyesight to see the northern lights. That was his one travel wish. Not only did he see the northern lights, he also opened his eyes to the beauty of the world for the first time in his life.

While it’s fun to create a TV show, if someone asked me to do it again in the future, I’d smile, pat them on the back and walk away. Good ideas aren’t enough to ensure success anymore. Now you have to have page likes, a million Instagram followers, and a cute dog. In our new world, you have to be popular first and then you can succeed in your endeavors. And what it takes to be popular is to sit in front of a screen and upload pictures all day and try to appear as if you are the greatest thing that ever walked the earth.

God I miss the 50s. I wasn’t even alive then, but I miss them anyway.

Here’s the thing about this TV show: I believe in miracles. I believe that the Universe watches over good ideas and nurtures them along, even if you don’t have a Facebook page and a cute kitten.

Still, it takes a village. Next time you’re on Facebook look up “The Wish” and give us a like. Watch our two-minute sizzler reel and take a look at what we’re up to.

And nominate someone whom you think might deserve their own personal journey.

I’d love to take you away.

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