27 July 2006

What makes a fortune, fortunate?

" I've been in this world awhile
And I've seen a lot of country
Many days and many miles
All various and sundry
I've had my way and I've had my fun
And I've had my chance to run free
Burning hot beneath the sun
Freezing cold and wintry" ~ James Taylor

I had lunch yesterday with two wonderful friends. We settled on a Chinese restaurant near the office of the Magazine for whichI am currently writing a couple of features. Of course, this is one of those restaurants that have the "nice" fortune cookies, the kind you could share with your family and friends without blushing, but it also has the naughty fortune cookies, the ones you would most probably, ideally, share with someone very close to you - like if you were married or something along those lines.

Wouldn't you just know that my "naughty" fortune cookie came with not one, not two, but three fortunes - one more risque than the next! Never before had I managed to score a fortune cookie with three directives that are way too frisky to print on a PG-rated blog.

I then turned my attention to the basket containing the "nice" fortune cookies. Most of these don't have fortunes so much as little sayings, reaffirming truths you already know by heart. But mine was a little different, which sort of made-up, only slightly, for the fact that I had to give my "frisky fortunes" away...I think I'm holding a resentment here! :-)

But I loved the sentiment I drew. It was sweet, optimistic and it bespoke of something to look forward to. I like having things to look forward to - well, I like having positive possibilities looming in my future. Who doesn't?

Now, I'm not saying I live my life according to the dictates of a fortune found in a cookie in a Chinese restaurant, but why not believe it? If I choose to believe it, what can it hurt? Maybe there is a pleasant surprise waiting for me! Maybe anything is possible.

"Pleasant" has been the best descriptor of the last week and unexpected surprises have popped up from the craziest places imaginable. Of course, this hasn't been an easy run of late, but it's by no means been miserable - considering everything that's been going on. Work has been fine...and funny - and I've had enough freelance assignments to keep me out of trouble, but not so much that I haven't had time for a swim here and there, or tea with friends.

Maybe what I notice, most of all, is the startling absence of tension. I didn't really understand how tight and stressed my life had become, until everything, including my outlook, began to relax. It suddenly feels safe enough to take a deep breath, inhale the glorious scent of summer, and kick back just a little. It must be akin to how a turtle feels when he pops his head out of that hard, oppressive shell. It feels tenuous at first and you wonder what might be lurking that might qualify as an unwelcome surprise attack, but when you poke outside and realize that there is nothing to be afraid of, you really do feel an enormous wave of relief and, if you have been preoccupied with unhappy events, you can't imagine how amazing that feels. It IS like sunshine and it feels very warm and you begin to feel just a bit more brave - that shell is starting to feel almost weightless. I don't even think I need that shell any more.

Sometimes, you just have to stop and smell the daisies that you didn't even realize were in your path. That's a great thing! Of course they're white, with yellow centers...the best ones are.

You can be certain I will be on the look-out for anything resembling a pleasant surprise - as the stress begins to recede, it leaves in its wake room to notice all kinds of nice things, such as how wonderful it is to slice through the water on a late summer afternoon and rinse off the whole day in a series of flips, or how precious it is to make, and nurture, friendships, both old and unexpected new ones from a place I'd all but forgotten, and oddly enough find so nice (and funny!) to remember.

"Good things happen when you least expect them." Good things HAVE happened, and I had no expectations. I plan on being immensely grateful for the many pleasant surprises that have already littered my path this week. Everything else is gravy...and I really like gravy.

And, of course, I am grateful that Alta Vista still has an Italian translator!