Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fortune Cookie Magic

Someone is trying to tell me something.  And they're using fortune cookies to do it.  
At the beginning of March I posted a blog entry entitled, "A Kite on the Winds of Change."  The blog was inspired by a fortune cookie I got that week.  Someone was going on maternity leave and Chinese food was brought in for a celebratory lunch.  
After finishing the beef & broccoli I ordered, I picked one of the fortune cookies provided and broke it open.  It read: 
"The winds of change will sweep through your life next month."
And, as anyone who reads my blog or follows my Twitter feed might realize, there were changes in my life.  Not in my overall situation, per se, but in terms of my attitude toward the people and things surrounding me.  Who to trust and support, and who to be wary of.  What I was going to do about the problems I was facing.  What I thought was important.  
Well, this week it happened again.  Chinese food was brought in for the clients that use our conference rooms for their depositions.  There were spare fortune cookies that were left out for the employees.  I took one of the cookies, which I opened after my own asian-inspired lunch of gyoza and brown rice.  This is what it said: 
"Your dearest wish will come true within the month!"
That's an exact quote.  Exclamation point and everything.  After years of getting these trite, innocuous fortunes, like "Friendship is the Greatest Gift!" I had received, twice in a row, fortune cookies that were really putting out the effort.  
I tucked the fortune into my wallet and headed back to my office.  It was then that a couple of questions came to me.  
The first was, "What, exactly, IS my 'dearest wish'?"  The second was, "Just how does fortune cookie magic work?"  
I'm going to tackle the last one first.  
The question formalized a few "rules" associated with fortune cookies that are followed.  I did not follow these rules religiously, in the same way, as a young man, I followed the liturgy at Mass.  But looking back, I realized that there were these steps that were always followed prior to opening my fortune cookie.  
First, you have to take the fortune you touch first.  This assumes, of course, they are put in a group or bowl in the center of the table.  If they give you your own separate fortune cookie, then it doesn't work.  It is important that you pick your fortune out of the group, and that you keep the one you pick.  You can't pick one, put it down and then pick another.  All you're doing is becoming an instrument of chaos, then.  I think it does something like turn your fortune into a misfortune, making the exact opposite come true.  And it does the same thing for the person who gets the cookie you discarded.  
We only get one chance at life.  It is the same for fortune cookies.  
Second, you don't open your fortune cookie until AFTER your meal.  This is important.  It's not like eating dessert first.  Sometimes you have to eat dessert first to stir things up and make them interesting.  With fortune cookies, though, this rule is sacrosanct.  Meal, then fortune.  Period.  
Why is this so?  Short answer: Because.  Slightly longer answer: Because, the magic won't work otherwise.  Actual answer: I have no idea.  I just KNOW it has to be that way. 
At a guess...  I think it has something to do with...  Nourishment.  Feeding your body, satisfying your physical needs, providing yourself with energy...  Somehow that activity provides "Energy" (here used in the vague, nearly meaningless way a lot of "spiritual" people I've met use it, as opposed the the specific, 'ability to do work,' scientific way I usually try to use it) that allows the fortune to take place.  
Finally, at least in the sense that this is the last firm rule that I know I'm aware of, the fortune has to be shared for it to come true.  You show it to the people you were sharing the meal with.  You let them see it and comment on it.  "Oooh...  That's a good one!"  Or, "I got one like that last week, and you know what..."  Things like that.
This spreads the fortune out into the firmament.  It recognizes that fortunes don't happen in isolation.  There is a world of cause and effect out there, and you need to prime the engines of universe to get things started.  Showing your friends is the first step in doing that.
And a quick side note: That whole thing of adding "in bed" to the end of your fortune is just plain silly.  It shows a lack of respect toward the fortune cookie.  Don't do it.  
The answer to my first question, just what might my "dearest wish" be?  My initial answer was, "To have all my wishes come true!"  
I don't think that works, though.  It's too much like telling the djinn that your third wish is to have three more wishes.  Good thing djinn aren't real, huh?  
The problem, as it would be with anyone, is that there are so many things I wish for, it is impossible to pick just one.  "To become a full time, professional writer" versus "Finding the 'Love of my Life' and enjoy the rest of my life with her."  Which do I choose?  As soon as I decide on one, I'll find myself longing to have the other.  
I could go with something more general.  "To be happy and content to the end of my days."  But that seems a tepid wish, one that would engender more a chance in one's personal attitude than a change in the universe.  Perhaps that's the problem with people and wishes to begin with. 
Maybe there's a way of turning this around.  Using the whole Fortune Cookie process to invoke change in the cosmos, instead of divining what is heading toward us.  
Fortune Cookie magic would be a very involved way of casting spells.  First, you'd have to learn how to cook in general, and how to bake fortune cookies specifically.  It would also help to have a lot of friends you could periodically invite over for dinner.  Then you'd have to write down on small pieces of paper the things you want to have happen.  There's probably a special process you have to go through before and during the writing.  Skill in meditation practices and calligraphy would be helpful.  Learning another language, with its own particular scrip, like Chinese, Japanese or Arabic, would make it even more interesting.  It would add an impreciseness of interpretation that all good fortunes thrive on.   
Once the cookies are baked, each with a different fortune inside, you cook the best meal you can and invite your friends over.  Make sure there is a lot of alcohol to go with it.  The more enjoyable the experience, the more power the spell is given.  
At the end of the meal, you bring out your bowl of fortune cookies.  There is a moment of subtlety here.  You could pick the first one for yourself.  But it would probably be better to offer them to your guests first.  Pick the person, besides yourself, you most one to have something good happen to them and go from there.  You get the last cookie remaining.  When you break it open, you show it to your guests, knowing that the good will you've engendered in them through the feast you've provided will empower the spell to take place.  Then, you sit back, drinking and laughing with everyone, as you feel the power of your fortune take hold and spread out into the cosmos.  
The thing about this magical system is that it would probably work to bring good into your life, even if magic doesn't exist at all.  


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