My fingers fumbled hastily with the frustrating plastic wrapper. The words “Fortune Cookie” shined brightly as the dim kitchen light caught their hooker-red- lipstick color. The words seemed to laugh at me: “He’ll never get inside…silly chump.” Call me insane, but you never know what a fortune cookie is thinking; we give them life. Some look to them for guidance, like a personal bite-sized Buddha, while others merely use their services for a quick laugh at the end of a rough day. I believe that fortune cookies prove that there is no such thing as mere coincidence.
Finally I broke through the heat-pressed seal and claimed the treasure that awaited me. Crumbs fell briskly to the Formica tabletop and scurried like mice at the feet of the family cat. I cracked the tiny revelator in two and picked out the tiny strip of paper from the mess. I quickly unfurled the strip to read the words printed on its face. The words were in baby blue and read, “Happiness is right next to you.” Sitting next to me was my gorgeous and outrageously wonderful girlfriend Amy. Our faces lit up in excitement. Was it mere coincidence that this cookie was placed in the bag of our Chinese take-out dinner that very night? It was no coincidence that we were sitting next to each other that night, so why would it be coincidence that a mass-produced piece of squeaky paper confirmed our very feelings?
I have thought deeply about this thing called life and my role in it. Why do I know the people I do, and why have I had to experience the pain and pleasure this existence has to offer? The people and experiences that have changed my life and brought me out of the darkest of abysses could not be placed in front of me at random. Whenever I have the blessing to encounter an absolutely wonderful person in the present, I begin to look back at last few months or years before I have such an encounter. Almost every time I can clearly see that there were many steps that led up to the present time. It’s chilling in a way, to think maybe there is someone out there who sees everything that is putting things in order for me so that I may have the most fulfilling life possible. I am reminded of Forrest Gump and the sweet wisdom he learned as he lived out his very innocent and eventful life. He took one belief from his mother and another from a dear friend he made during the Vietnam War, Lieutenant Dan Taylor. His Momma said we are here on this earth floating like a leaf in the wind, ending up wherever the wind decides to drop us. Lt. Dan believed strictly in a rigid and set form of unchanging destiny. Forrest came to a belief that was smack dab in the middle. The wind takes us where we need to be.
Whether it is a Fortune from a cookie that holds an eerie prevalence to this life, or a stranger on the street that changes my whole view of the world, I believe that each chance meeting is something I am meant to have, to better who I am as a person and to enrich my life in times of darkness.
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