Several days ago, I invited my wife out for a meal at Hong Kong Harbor, a buffet-style restaurant that serves Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food.
Toward the end of our time at the eatery, a waiter dropped off two fortune cookies. I’ve gotten some really good advice and words of wisdom over the years, so I’m always eager to retrieve and read those little slips of paper embedded in those odd-shaped sweets. In fact, I have this ritual I practice on such occasions: If I like what I read, I eat the cookie and then keep the fortune, which I store away in my wallet. If the fortune is vapid and thus uninspiring—for example, my wife got one that said something like (I’m paraphrasing) the secret to success is trying hard—I don’t stick the cookie in my mouth and leave the little slip on the table.
I wouldn’t have eaten the cookie had I gotten the fortune she got. Mine read: “Be bold, brave, and forthright and the bold, brave, and forthright will gather round you.”
So, that’s not the best fortune I’ve ever received, but it was good enough. I ate the cookie and then secreted the little message on my person.
We are certainly seeing this little truism play out in Ukraine. Each brave act done by a citizen of that country is inspiring others to act similarly. Boldness and bravery are certainly contagious. Of course, cowardice and ugliness also catch on. I don’t expect that Putin will ultimately succeed in his grotesque endeavor; although, he will cause others to mete out much destruction and heartache in the days and weeks ahead.
Back in the winter and spring of 2011, I was living in Cairo, Egypt, exactly at the moment the citizens of that North African country collectively revolted against Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorial reign. I found myself swept up in all that emotion and decided to remain in the city as virtually all the other expats were fleeing. The brave denizens of the capital were amazingly strong and inspired me to be strong too. As law and order began to break down, I began to carry a weapon and patrolled our neighborhood from sundown to sunup. I had many terrifying experiences but never felt closer to my neighbors than I did then. It occurs to me now, as I think back on that amazing time of my life and the little slip I was given a few days ago, that one of the best ways to build community is to stand up tall, throw one’s shoulders back, and boldly step forward (or, if that’s too difficult to do, to watch for those who are taking these actions and to rally around them).
I guess I’m saying that birds of a feather really do flock together, don’t they? One of the reasons I’ve continued to enjoy working on college and university campuses is that I like being around intelligent and curious people. Being around such folks has helped me think about the value of attempting to be intelligent and curious.
So, it’s late on Sunday morning, and I’m running out of steam. I guess I should wrap this up.
I’ll do so by asking a few questions. What is the best fortune you’ve ever received in a fortune cookie (or what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given)? Have you ever been inspired by those around you? If so, please share your story. Thanks for reading and responding.
P. S. Please consider clicking on the logo that follows and registering your blog at the MK Blog Directory. Thank you.
16 thoughts on “I Ate the Cookie”
Thank you, Troy–what a fantastic post! I love what you shared about your habit of either taking the fortune cookie message to heart or not. To me, both of the symbolic gestures you make display great awareness. To live, knowingly, present in the moment, means that “the governor” is wide awake, on the job.
I don’t have a personal fortune cookie message to relate; but I can share this: For several years before the passing of my mother’s body-mind, she and I would go out to a local chinese buffet. Those times together–she long past widowed, me divorced–were incredibly special.
I’ll be looking forward to your next post! Wishing you a great upcoming week. 🙏
Hi. By the way, do you prefer for people to call you Art or R. Arthur? I do try to be present and mindful. I do have to occasionally remind myself to get out of my head and to be more connected to what’s happening around me. I’m glad you’ve got those memories of your mother and those buffet meals. Being the stoic that I am, I try to remind myself that all things are impermanent and to make peace that we are all in a state of decay. My parents are still alive, but I am making peace with the fact that they won’t be around forever. I’m enjoying your posts too. I was very excited to discover your work and to invite you to join us. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
Thanks for your message–truly appreciated! I go by “Art,” thanks. The “R. Arthur” was more for my writing.
I have to remind myself about being present, too; but it does pay big dividends when we are. I’ve written a poem about such, which I’ll be publishing very soon.
Thanks about my mom; my father’s body-mind (I know that sounds odd, but it goes with enlightenment territory) passed when he was only fifty-four. I’m glad that your parents are still around and that you’re making peace with any future. It’s truly odd, isn’t it–but there truly isn’t a future, for when anything happens, it can only be now. Both past and future are constructs of mind; thus, the “character” that we have assumed to be, is only in “time.” The eternal NOW is our actual home. Anyway, as you can tell, I like sharing this ‘stuff,’ with the hope of alleviating worry/anxiety. I guess it’s just a continuation of my nature when I worked as a paramedic–a desire to help and be of service some way.
Looking forward to your next post!
The more you share your thoughts, I more I see that we are simpatico in our worldview and way of thinking. One day, all we will have of those who are no longer here are the memories we’ve stored away. And even those will become fictionalized and romanticized as the years past. My father has taught me much about life, living, and dying. He is now 88 and has Parkinson’s. When I go to visit him, we always talk about his death and how he’s made peace with it. These talks are never morbid–we both understand that disappearance is as natural our appearance. I’ve long felt that people could live happier and most peaceful lives if they could spend a portion of each day contemplating their own demise. I’ve long felt the biggest challenge any of us face is the “nonbeing” challenge. Ever since we came into being and began to become aware of our personhood, we’ve always been a mind and thus have this awareness. Most have a hard time understanding what it means to have “nonbeing.” How can we comprehend what it means to no longer to have awareness of self and other? All the thoughts are person ever has emanate from this thing we call person.
Thank you for sharing more, Troy. I found myself nodding at so many points that you shared. The historical Buddha stated that we suffer (experience dukkha) because we are attached to life. There was a time when I wouldn’t have understood that; but I believe it do now. When we think of ourselves as long-lasting independent self (as Paul Hedderman describes the “human”), we are bound to suffer. Why? Because this “apparent” self, which is actually rendered by the mind, believes that it also has its own source of consciousness. It does not, and many are unaware that “the hard problem of consciousness” (namely, how it arises from neuronal processes) has not been answered. I believe that it never will be. Why? Because Consciousness is fundamental, the very Source of our being. From this standpoint, it is literally for us to lose Awareness (ever, even in death of the body-mind) because it is our very nature to be Aware. To awaken from the dream of personhood is enlightenment.
When my father passed, I was only sixteen, incapable of processing the sudden event. It hurt–a lot. In my book, I explain that it hurt so much because I had no understanding of either my “self,” or my father’s.
Be the Change you wish to see in the world
Thanks to your blog I’m going to donate directly to a family in the Ukraine 🇺🇦. I will also be sending you a guest blog soon because I love to think 🤔 and write ✍️. Thanks Troy. Have a wonderful day
We’ve all got to do are part to speak out, stand up, and support those who are being victimized in Ukraine. I’m looking forward to reading your writing. Thanks for reading and commenting.
At my late husband’s and my wedding reception in our favorite Chinese restaurant, I received a very auspicious fortune: “You will attract cultured and artistic people to your home.”
Troy, it is hard to imagine you patrolling the neighborhood with a gun, but under the circumstances, it is understandable and laudable. I applaud the brave Ukrainian citizens for defending their country.
Your fortune cookie hit the nail on the head. I didn’t actually carry a gun. As a foreigner living there, it would have been impossible to do so. I did carry a very intimidating club that could have done some horrible damage. (Luckily, I never had to use it on anyone.) There were certainly guns out and about on the street, and there was lots of shooting and injury, death, and ugliness, but I was lucky to have remained unscathed even though I have quite a few close calls and consider myself lucky to not to have been shot. Yes, the Ukrainians are teaching the whole world what real love of country looks like. There was a time, after the Egyptian revolution, when the whole world thought about the Egyptians in the same way we are thinking of the Ukrainians. Thanks for your comment.
A bold, brave and forthright post. Thank you, Troy! I feel buoyed just reading about your experiences knowing that there are people like you who will stand up in conflict to preserve people’s rights and dignities.
My best fortune cookie message – “If your dreams don’t scare you, your dreams aren’t big enough.”
Thank you for this great post. I’m glad you ate the cookie!
Cool fortune cookie that expresses a truth I believe in. Heroes are really just ordinary people who find themselves in situations that force them to step outside their comfort zone. When there is danger, one has to react. I’m not the type to lock myself in my room; although, I know many who barricaded their doors or ran away during that time. How many times in life does a person have a chance to witness a real revolution? I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity. Thanks for your comment.
Thought provoking post. Since you work around university, what do you think about tossing out ACT/SAT scores for applicants? How will anyone gauge their level of academic intelligence? I will also ask my son who teaches at UW.
Hi. I’ve never been a fan of standardized tests of that sort. I suppose the scores on such things can be part of am application portfolio, but ACT/SAT scores shouldn’t be decisive. I’d see great value in taking a more holistic approach. Rice University, for example, used to have an application that included a blank sheet of people. On the top of that sheet, were the instructions: “Do something on this sheet.” (I’m certain that there were amazing responses over the years to that set of instructions.) Einstein has said imagination is more important than knowledge. Standardized tests measure the store of knowledge one has, but Einstein would say this “store” is of limited value. Shouldn’t creativity be looked at by admissions officers? What about good deeds or volunteerism or international experience or especially challenging life circumstances? Thanks for asking an interesting question.
Excellent post! The answer to your question is easy for me because I have used it throughout my life. I received this advice from my Father, ” There’s always a way to do it. You just have to find what is needed to make it work.” Just to let you know, good or bad fortune, I always eat the cookie.
Hi. Don’t get me wrong. In the vast majority of cases, I’m all in on cookies (and ice cream, etc). Fortune cookies, though, don’t necessarily turn me on too much. They seem a little like baked Styrofoam to me. But that’s just me. The father sounds like a wise man. Why is that fathers so often seem so smart while their sons not so much? Thanks for the comment.
Once sons become fathers themselves, wisdom tends to show up in them. It’s amazing how much we change once we become parents.