Fortune cookies. Those magical cookies with a piece of paper inside telling us the future. Never requested, but always included in every inexpensive Chinese food takeout.
The cookie itself is dry and bland. Imagine a plate of just fortune cookies. Yucko. Without the fortune, nobody would ever eat one, but the fortune itself makes all the difference. Plus, in my family, there was a tradition that the fortune wouldn’t come true if you didn’t eat the cookie. And it’s one of the few times that everyone tells what their fortune is without fear that the telling will destroy the wish. The fortune itself made all the difference.
I grew up in the age before fortune cookies had lucky numbers in them, making something tacky into something downright ridiculous. I’m a bit of a purist, so lucky numbers are hard for me to accept. But the fortune itself? That is truth writ large. I have no choice. I must accept my fate.
Sometimes the fortune is missing entirely, which is a loss. You can always ask for another if that happens, so everything will be made whole. But nothing is more aggravating than the fortune that does not tell the future. “Your heart is a place of true happiness” THIS IS NOT A FORTUNE! (Hopefully true, but not a fortune.) “Sometimes traveling to a new place leads to a great transformation” THIS IS ALSO NOT A FORTUNE! I know about the present, I want to know what is to come. If I wanted advice on how to live, I wouldn’t have ordered that egg roll. I want to know that money, or wonderful journeys are in my future, or good news is coming, or even that I should expect a lucky Friday afternoon. Don’t tell me platitudes. Don’t tell me what Confucius thinks. Uncover the veil of the unknowable future and give me that knowledge right now.
I received the fortune recently that “You will spend many years in comfort and material wealth.” Awesome! Maybe no spiritual growth, love of family, or anything beyond the base material existence, but hey, it’s something I wasn’t certain of in my future until now. Now that’s a fortune, and makes the $5 price of the meal worthwhile.