Monday, June 18, 2012

On Moving, (Not) Camping, Courage, & Character

Not long after I wrote this post about how my efforts to procure a cookie insert ended with identical not-a-fortunes, my friend Val and her husband opened two fortune cookies to reveal these: 

"Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence."

Not only are those also identical not-a-fortunes, we've featured that insert here before. [See the post "Thoughts?" from 2010. It has a record number of comments (which is eight but that is neither here nor there).]

My last post included a brief mention of a cross-country move and it's true; I've left Austin for the East Coast. The weeks leading up to my departure were busy and while I managed to collect quite a few cookie inserts, I was not good about recording the details of their origins. Here they are, with what I remember about them when possible.

"A house without books is like a room without windows."

This is another repeat not-a-fortune. I received this last fall, ironically on the weekend of the Texas Book Festival when I was in a self-imposed lockdown in my office and the celebration of books and writing was happening at the Capitol mere minutes from me. This time, I opened a fortune cookie and found this insert as I was on my way to rid my storage unit of as many books (and files, etc.) as possible. Once again, the irony was not lost on me.

In May, my mother gave me a bag of fortune cookies. It wasn't in celebration of my birthday, which doesn't occur until the fall, but it did contain thirty-two cookies, specifically because I'm thirty-two years old. Thanks, Mom. This somewhat disturbing not-a-fortune is one of those:

"Adversity is the prosperity of the great."

Great. Awesome. Perfect.

I think this insert also came from that bag, though it could be from the last time I ate China Hill before I left:

"If you work hard, good things will inevitably happen."

What makes me suspicious of this insert is the word on the back: CAMPING. Everyone who knows me knows I love not camping. There is no good reason for me to learn that word in any language, unless it is preceded by not.

The Sunday before I left Texas, I had lunch with my parents at our favorite Chinese restaurant, San Antonio's Hung Fong, where I received this not-a-fortune:

"If you understand what you're doing, you're not learning anything."

I'm an academic and a teacher. Tell me something I don't know, fortune cookie.

Here are all three of our cookie inserts:

My parents' inserts read:
"Look! Good fortune is around you."
"In great attempts it is glorious even to fail."

Truthfully, I would have been happy with any of those as my Texas send-off. Instead, I got the following after a lovely dinner the next night with my friends V and Val at Pao's, the first Chinese restaurant in Austin I really liked:

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

Without being too philosophical or reflective, I'll just say that moving across the country alone (well, except for The Nickel and The Penny, two dogs who certainly deserve to be included) probably requires more courage than I've been giving myself credit for. But hey, that's what academics do. No biggie.

Less than a week later, I had my first Chinese meal in my new home, after which I received this:
"Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent."

That's not the most promising beginning to this new phase, to say the least...

To new beginnings!

1 comment:

  1. I was just considering starting a blog about the myriad non-fortune fortunes I've come across, then I discovered your blog. Now I have to decide whether to risk being called a copycat, or just enjoying your blog. :)


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