I recently went to a Chinese restaurant with my mom. It was nothing special (unless my mom is reading this, then it was super-duper). Nothing like a mother/daughter day that you see, oh so often, on reality TV where more time is spent flashing a credit card or fishing for the next eligible bachelor. Nope, we were just two broke women that were starving to death so, naturally, spending money we didn’t have on eating out seemed like the logical choice. When we finished inhaling our food and started in on the usual guilt routine of why-did-you-let-me-eat-out-again, we hurriedly grabbed for a fortune cookie to make us feel a little, teensy bit better about ourselves and our bad habits.
My fortune was something wise and awe inspiring and I have since completely forgotten anything and everything about it. My mother’s, on the other hand, will stay with me for a long while. If you have a cool, modern day computer then you’ll have already noticed the picture associated with this blog post. If not, then here’s what her fortune said:
“You will live a long life and eat many fortune cookies.”
It’s laughably simple, but perfect.
I could go into great detail and hit on the fact that only a few words were used to convey an entire lifetime and that the sentence could possibly be related to the word spatterings written by Hemmingway himself. But who’s in the mood to get all technical?
I rather take a moment to talk about minimalism.
It seems to me, that before high school, I never really thought about being a published author. In fact, I specifically remember being asked what I wanted for myself in 10 years’ time and while other classmates wrote this job or that one, I wrote down one simple word: happiness. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t care about money, cars, or all that mumbo jumbo. I still don’t – to an extent. But, like so many other people in this world, I tend to get caught up in the usual huff associated with living one’s life.
And that’s too bad.
Really, it is.
Sometimes I forget that the very thing that made me want to be a writer was my need to share the ins and outs of everyday life. Whether it be eating a ripened, juicy apple or singing off tune with my family in the car or worrying if Mr. Hot N Dreamy noticed me in Lit class. These were all stories in my life that I wanted to share or portray in some way, even if they would never be anything more than average at best.
When I started off as a reader, I didn’t need the climax to be anything too dramatic. I’m the first to say that I genuinely enjoyed simple stories like The Old Man and the Sea by Hemmingway or Heart of Darkness by Conrad. And, I’m not lying when I say I’ve reread them multiple times. I understood, from a young age, that sometimes the best lived life is just a simple one. Sometimes the best stories come from the simplest experiences that people don’t take time out of their day to recognize as being important or meaningful.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t mind a good dramatic twist in a book, because what living person really expected Dumbledore to die? Or The Angel’s Game to have such an unforeseeable ending? Furthermore, I don’t think anyone should be okay with letting their lives become stagnant. But that doesn’t mean everybody needs to climb Mount Everest, backpack through Europe, or even drink an entire bottle of Tobasco sauce to say their life has amounted to something. I mean, look at Mother Theresa. Catholic or not, nobody could argue that she lived an extravagant life and yet, there are hundreds of books about her.
What I’m saying is, when I started this post, I mentioned that the dinner date with my mom was nothing special but in hindsight, all jokes aside, it really was. But it’s moments like this one that so many people take for granted. Some children don’t have active parents in their lives but I do, and my mom and I regularly swap stories about our days over a quick meal. I can’t count how many laughs we’ve shared, advice that’s been passed, or even quiet silences we’ve relaxed in. Each one is a memory I’ll never forget. A moment I’ll always have. A story I’ll be able to tell to my children and grandchildren.
So, no, I don’t see anything wrong with living a long life filled with chowing down on fortune cookies, especially if you’re with a loved one. It sounds like the perfect short story. And what else is life, other than a short story?