In our house, we don’t eat fortune cookies all that often. At some point about 10 years ago, I decided it might be bad luck to throw them out without opening. So I’ve been keeping them, usually somewhere on the counter, until they get annoying. Then I open them, take the fortune out, read it, and usually throw the cookies away after giving a few crunches to each of the dogs.
Here’s the latest batch.
—Traveling more often is important for your health and happiness. This makes sense on the surface. Traveling enables you to gain a broader perspective. It may have the added benefit of appreciating your home more fully upon returning.
On the other hand, it depends on a few factors.
Where are you going? How long can you stay there? If you travel on an airplane, there’s a solid chance you’ll catch a cold or a flu, especially during the late fall and winter months. In that case, not traveling is important for your health. Also: does your income and your schedule allow you to travel? I’m currently working two part-time teaching jobs, while my daughter is now in preschool four days a week, but my partner’s job allows us financial security. I’d hate to be working multiple jobs, barely affording rent, and read a fortune cookie that advises me to travel more often.
—You will move to a wonderful new home within the year. This is presumptuous. Especially in the Bay Area. We’re very lucky to be in a house and afford a mortgage. I’d hate work multiple jobs, barely affording rent, and read a fortune cookie that predicts I will move to a wonderful new home within the year. It doesn’t say “house,” but still…
—A day is a span of time no one is wealthy enough to waste. Time is precious. Okay, I think that’s good to remember. Use the time you have. No problem with that one. “Wealthy enough…” isn’t needed here. Is the target demographic of this fortune the country club members? People considering retirement, but needing to be jolted back into their creative endeavors?
—Don’t just think, act! The exclamatory fortune! An insistence upon action! Do not ruminate! Do not let your mind wander! Seize the goddamn day… as soon as you finish your fried chicken wings and Kung Pao beef! Who cares that most people eat takeout Chinese food at the end of the day? Get up off your couch and run 10 miles on that full belly!
—Act boldly and unseen forces will come by your aid. Presumptuous again. It’s always easier to suggest someone act boldly when you don’t have to deal with the consequences of that action, fortune cookie writers! For example, the person writing that fortune cookie may desperately want out of that shitty writing job. They might have to churn out 250 of these fortunes a day. Maybe they’ve considered leaving the job, but have been lured back in to the industry by the head honcho who says a promotion is on the way. Maybe that promotion was promised three years ago. Maybe that writer has hit the fortune cookie ceiling, and has no other options. Maybe delivering the Chinese food doesn’t seem like a better option, especially during the winter.
—You are only as old as you act. Another open-ended and scientifically inaccurate fortune. This one is intended as a wake-up call to the slackers in their 20s and 30s who refuse to take initiative. It’s also intended for the senior citizens who won’t acknowledge their age. While I agree that time as we think of it today (the hours of the day boiled down to meeting minutes and over-scheduling) is an arbitrary human invention, the rings of the tree don’t lie. Time keeps us honest and enables reflection.
—Don’t ask, don’t say. Everything lies in silence. Well which is it? Seize the day and stop wasting time or stay quiet and allow for contemplation? Asking questions of ourselves, of others, and of the bigger world around us… this is the root of intellectual thought. Silence is certainly needed and undervalued… but “don’t ask, don’t say?” Please.
—Writing is thinking on paper. Yes, it is. Unless it’s done on a screen. Then you have to print out the paper.