I was so shocked when my oldest son cracked open his fortune cookie after eating some of the best Chinese food in Jersey City, and read aloud the small blue words written on the folded white paper: Fools use tomorrow, Wise use today.”  I thought to myself, “hmm that is pretty inspirational.” 

I’ve grown accustom to reading these small fortunes with an air of discontent.  I remember reading one the other week (hmmm, maybe I’m eating Chinese food a little too often) that said something along the lines of a friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out.  “That’s nice” I thought, and within five seconds I threw the paper in the garbage and proceeded to eat the crunchy cookie without a second thought.  I have a solid base of people I call my friends, the “world” hasn’t walked out on me yet (and I’m staying optimistic that it doesn’t) and so I drew the conclusion that this fortune wasn’t about me (because we Chinese food addicts assume the invisible cookie fortune teller should identify the hand opening the cookie and magically sprinkle the blank white paper with blue pen and transcribe a tailor-made fortune).

Because my son opened the fortune cookie I didn’t feel immediately inclined to throw the paper away, especially since he was reaching for another one.  I proceeded to go about my day until he read the note from the second cookie:  “You have to be a role model.  The younger one is watching.”

“Now that’s just freaky” I said.  For some reason I picked up  both of the tiny white pieces of paper and began to re-read them (not really sure why I did this, it’s not like the words were going to change).  But after a few moments of reflection I considered the fact that I must have accidently touched the first fortune cookie and the invisible fortune cookie teller haphazardly created a fortune for me, not realizing that my son loves cookies more than I do (that was all I could come up with why this fortune resonates with me).  Before the night was over I just knew that I needed to blog about this subject.

Carpe diem!  Even poet Horace in 23 B.C. understood the importance of seizing the day and not depending on tomorrow.  In his Odes Horace reveals “scale back your long hopes to a short period…seize the day!” 

How many times have I conjured up an idea for a short story, screenplay, or novel and within a matter of minutes I have already given myself a thousand roadblocks and reasons the project will fail.  I have always loved the art of writing and can recall my days from 2005 to a few months ago being filled with the words, “I will start writing tomorrow,” or “I have the idea in my head but I will start writing it down tomorrow,” or “I started writing, I have about five pages, but I will finish writing tomorrow.”  For six years tomorrow became…never.  Where would I be today had I seized the day six years ago?  How much of my writing would have developed had I lived in the moment?  

I’d like to believe that everything happens for a reason and that we as humans have no control over our destinies – everything happens when it is supposed to.  I can’t say where I might be had I been ambitious enough to start and finish writing a project years ago without worrying about the future.  But what I do know is that I am no longer the fool who waits for tomorrow.  Tomorrow may never come and it is wiser to make the best of today!

Do you think that our lives unfold as they are supposed to, or do we define our destiny?

See you next week Wednesday: 8/3/11