|Michel de Montaigne|
Here is a saying found in a Chinese fortune cookie: “Your heavy desire, only allow you to see what you are looking for.” Will the anonymous writer of this brilliant spiritual admonition please make his or her identity known? But what is the import? Is it what the recovery people are talking about when they ask “you know what you want, but do you know what you need?" Is it the concept of “limited objectives” that don’t let us see the possible munificence and magnanimity of the world? Is it the idea that lies behind another saying, “when one door closes, another opens?” You are full of urges and they compel you to fulfill immediate desires instead of taking a longer view. Sometimes you can hold the urge at bay, but once you have crossed the Maginot Line, all hell breaks loose and there's no turning back. It’s also the notion of Answered Prayers. “There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered ones,” said Saint Teresa of Avila. “Watch out what you want for you may get it,” is another homily that conveys a similar idea. Of course all these could easily qualify to be fortunes too, although to be effective your normal cookie cutter fortune has to have a D.I.Y. feeling—something which in the case of the fortune above is conveyed by a grammatical error, “Your heavy desire, only allows” is how it should read and the writer should have lost that initial comma, but when you make it read like one of the aphorisms of Montaigne, who also addresses these issues, you lose the charm. The problem is that once you get a fortune like this one, you rush to crack open the cookie in the next restaurant, only to be disappointed. The message coming to you was like one of those bottles that floats up to shore on the beach, carrying greetings from the denizens of another time. It’s by definition impossible to recreate the feeling of serendipity. In your drive to satisfy the desire, you become as narrow casted as the person the fortune teller was addressing, in his or her initial missive.