Thanks For Answering My Question, Fortune Cookie

As some of you may have noticed, I have made a point to return to daily blogging in 2010. The decision was made for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I miss writing… or at least the kind of writing I enjoy. I look back over the last year or two and realize that I have been very inconsistent about writing.

My lyrical pieces have been few and far between and my blogging has been sparse. The few blogs that have been put up over the last year seem to be primarily video blogs, with very little writing involved. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional video blog. In fact, I’m due for another one here soon. But it seems like it turned into a shortcut for me, and a bit of a cop out.

Consistent writing keeps me sharp, keeps my skills honed, and most of all, forces me to be more observant. When I know that each day I need to write a new piece, I really keep my eyes and ears open. I am more analytical. I tend to use more critical thinking. I make a point to really soak in all of what goes on around me. I am present in every moment, rather than simply coasting along. Knowing that I need to have something to write about at the end of the day has kind of shaken the dust off me and gotten me to switch off auto-pilot. It’s been a very, very good thing.

But while I write for me, I’ll admit that I tailor my pieces knowing that my eyes won’t be the only ones on my words. As cathartic as it is for me to write for myself, without an audience I’d be that tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear it. Okay, okay… more precisely, I’d be that monkey screeching in the jungle with no one around to hear it. Better? Yes.

And if I fail to provide some kind of value in my words, on a consistent basis, that audience will dry up very quickly. In today’s world there are an unprecedented number of things competing for everyone’s attention. We live in the ultimate attention deficit age, where sensory overload is a way of life. Beyond that, these words are on the internet: the land of the free and the home of the short attention span. In fact, if you’ve made it thus far in this blog, let me take this moment to congratulate you for your ability to concentrate. But I digress…

With the increased writing has come an increased level of self scrutiny. With each new written piece, I am asking myself more and more, “Is this serving a purpose?” Today, I woke up thinking about the last couple blogs I wrote and asked myself, “Are my blogs of any value to anyone other than myself?” That question became some kind of mantra for my day, repeating itself in my head over and over.

I treated myself to some Chinese food today. I’ve eaten strictly all week, so today was my one day to let loose and enjoy a little bit. There is not only the obvious psychological purpose for doing so, but a physiological one as well. But that’s for another blog on another day. My spicy shrimp and sizzling rice soup arrived and I savored them while watching the end of the Jets – Bengals playoff game. All the while, the same question bounced around in my mind: “Are my blogs of any value to anyone other than myself?”

When I was done eating, I selected one of the three fortune cookies that was delivered along with the meal and opened it. When I looked down, this is what I saw:

Fortune Cookie Front

While the back read:

Fortune Cookie Back

I smiled to myself and then took another look at both sides of the fortune to make sure I had read it correctly. I then rolled it up like a little scroll and carried it into my studio, where I placed it into the bottle where I have been collecting fortune cookie fortunes for years. I’m not superstitious whatsoever, but find the average fortune cookie message amusing, and they typically lend themselves to some shared laughter and discussion after a meal of Chinese food. Actually, I started collecting them because I had a cool little glass bottle that I had nothing better to do with.

I picked the bottle up during my visit to Spain while in high school. The price was right, and the bottle cost me next to nothing. But when I got it home, I realized I had no real purpose for it. Not long after, I came home from a dinner of Chinese food with a fortune in my pocket. While taking my wallet and keys out of my pockets, I found the fortune. Looking up at my shelf and seeing the empty bottle, the idea immediately struck me. I’ve been rolling them up and keeping in there ever since.

Someone once asked me why I keep all the fortunes in there. Rather than telling them the (somewhat boring) real answer, I improvised something a bit more humorous. I replied, “I am saving them all for when I am on my deathbed. While I am there, I am going to tell someone, ‘Bring me my bottle of fortunes.’ Then I am going to break it open and read them one by one, going, ‘That didn’t come true. That didn’t happen. That was nonsense.'” It was a totally tongue-in-cheek answer, but it caught the person who asked the question completely off guard. The look on their face was priceless.

To this day, the bottle sits in whatever room of the house turns into my studio and is prominently displayed. Recently, when I had the surgical pins removed from my right hand, I asked if I could keep them as a reminder to be thankful for what I have. When I got home, I stuck them into the cork stopper on the top of the bottle:

Bottle With Fortunes And Surgical Hand Pins

And I have to admit that not only was I repeatedly asking myself, “Are my blogs of any value to anyone other than myself?” today, I was, at the same time, wondering what I could possibly find to write about on a random Saturday at home.

Good thing I didn’t order pizza, eh?

  1. Does it really matter, though? I mean, as long as they have value to you, isn’t that enough? Regardless, I read this and realized my own writing life is just about stagnated at this point, and that I should probably do something about it. So, thanks for the help, blog! 😀

  2. I guess the value was split 75%/25% between my personal reasons for it and the audience’s perceived value. But the fact that you commented clears up that other 25%, doesn’t it? 😉 In other news, make a new video! And it should be one with the Foreman grill you’ve been mentioning. I mean, at least melt off your fingerprints or something.

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