I don't know why I preferred the tiny niblets of hope hidden in fortune cookies to what I had been offered by my previous faith, but I did. Maybe it’s because it was written by human hands that had no claims to divinity, or some other-worldly mysterious force - just other humans like me acting as conduits for optimism for the rest of their kind. To me there was is something immensely powerful in a human soul truly wishing another human soul a good journey.
Every year on my birthday, I would do two things. First I would write a letter to my old self, the person I was on my last birthday, telling him of his future, and all the things he would have to endure and the experiences he would get to relish in the coming year. Second, I would buy a single fortune cookie, unwrap it, and let that act as my tether to coincidence and chance all year long. Every other avenue for belief that religion offered asked something of me in return; some form of devotion and discipline which they often promised didn't take me away from, but led me towards my life's goal. This had not been my experience with religion, and I was eager to find my own way.
I remember thinking to myself, if only I had the power to gain just one great fortune each year, then I would have amassed 53 great fortunes by the time I had lived to be 80 years. That's not a bad record for a kid out of the orphanage. Every year, I would focus all my energy on a single fortune, one cosmic wish to whoever controlled the affairs of men, a single prayer, if you will, all year long.
The cookie crumbled briskly beneath my hands, I took the first bite of the familiar buttery taste and felt the eager crunchiness that I loved, but had disciplined myself to experience only once in a year. I pulled out the tiny niblet of hope written on a piece of paper that could barely fit in my finger, with words written so small I could barely see. But that's the thing about hope, it takes some effort to see it. The piece of paper read ' You will travel far and wide for both pleasure and business'
The only travel I could afford was a walk down memory lane, and that was even too costly and bitter for me sometimes. But this was my fortune this year, the good that chance, serendipity, and luck wanted to throw my way. I had not always been one to believe in luck, but when you have only been handed adversity and misfortune all your life, you forget all the biases you've heard about lucky people and just crave what they have, desperately. Don't get me wrong, I really hoped that this nugget of good fortune will be mine. I secretly wanted to travel. I wanted to know the world intimately, I wanted to know her deserts, and it's people, I wanted to relish in the taste of the sea, I wanted to find bliss in how her mountains tremble underneath my feet and find pleasure in her dark wet intimate caves... I wanted to know the earth like I had created her, and like I was discovering her for the very first time. I wanted all these but had barely told a soul.
Then came the temptation to buy some more cookies, and find some more good fortune, or perhaps find something more profound- but I had learned the hard way that the heart grows weary when it wants too many things. 'One hope to rule the year,' I thought, as I folded the piece of paper and placed it neatly in my wallet. ' One hope to guard the heart' I mumbled to myself again as walked out of the Asian store in the heart of the busy city.
You're made of the stuff of miracles