Sitting crossed legged on my sofa, watching what I call crap TV, I pay my bills. It’s my method, my routine. My open wallet lies nearby, and I glance at my driver’s license, a fortune pressed between my picture and the plastic, YOU ARE ALMOST THERE. It’s been there for years, longer than I can remember. Even as I have purchased new wallets and transferred the contents of the old, or cleaned my wallet, purging old receipts and movie ticket stubs, the fortune always made the cut. It was important to me.
I’ve slid my driver’s license in and out for sales clerks, TSA officers, and bank tellers, each time carefully returning it to its proper place just under the fortune. Sometimes I absent-mindedly flip open my wallet toward the inspecting eyes of the requester, forgetting the fortune is obscuring the license number or my date of birth. I am quickly reminded . . . umm I can’t, umm see the date? I squeeze my finger into the tight space, pushing the fortune so that the needed numbers can be seen.
Every now and then someone reads it aloud, YOU ARE ALMOST THERE. I feel compelled to tell them I’ve had it forever and that I thought at one time it had some important meaning, maybe it still does. My voice trails off as I wonder, why I am telling a random stranger about an old fortune tucked away in my wallet. Geez, I’ll talk to anyone. Whenever I engage in that way, I think of my mom. While shy, and even introverted, she felt comfortable quietly small-talking with strangers, one on one. I observed her doing this most of my life. I marveled at how people seemed genuinely interested in the little stories and musings she shared as she paid for groceries or dry cleaning. I loved watching her as she quietly captivated. I am neither quiet nor introverted, but I do love to share stories in the same way. I guess I come by it honestly.
So why did I keep this silly fortune? At the time, I believed it was my fortune. I WAS almost there! I do remember I was ending a relationship, and starting something new, again. Somehow in the moment, sitting in a Chinese restaurant and cracking open that cookie, brushing away the crumbs, removing the crumpled fortune and reading it aloud, I truly believed those words were my destiny. Life was going to turn around for me. I had made my last mistake. The fortune cookie had spoken! God, I hope and pray that I am not the only person on the planet whose mind works like this.
As the weeks, months and years rolled by the meaning of the little fortune had evolved. Once a bold statement of “all good things are within your reach” to “work a little harder there is farther than you thought”, to “Shit, where the hell is there and how the hell do you get there?” I wasn’t obsessed with the fortune, but it did stare me in the face every day. It certainly made me think, until one day I realized . . . I never defined there. Wow. I thought I would simply recognize it when I arrived.
These days I no longer look for there as the big ta-dah, or a final destination. There is a vision that lives in my head and my heart. It is defined, yet I refine it often. My words, my actions, my work and my life, all at the same time, both shape and reflect my vision . . . my there. As for the almost . . . well, the almost is the journey, and the journey never ends.
I feel sure that if my mom had a fortune stashed away in her wallet, she would have shared the story with a stranger. We should all share our stories, our fortunes.
My fortune is a gentle reminder of my journey, and yep . . . it’s still in my wallet.