Saturday, November 13, 2010

The inspiration behind 'My Daily Fortune'

My wife and I were sitting down to a Saturday afternoon Chinese takeout lunch. The General’s chicken was fresh and crispy, and Jamie’s vegetable fried rice was equally delicious. We were watching "Tootsie" on DVD.

It was a good day.

Then the phone rang.

A recorded message from a collection agency. About a year before, when Jamie was without health insurance, she required a trip to the emergency room for intense stomach pains (she later had to have her gall bladder removed).

Our outstanding bill for the one-hour emergency room visit was over three thousand dollars.

And all of a sudden, our good day was wiped away. Our financial troubles came to the surface.

I am unemployed, having been laid off from my job as an editor when my newspaper closed down. Over the past couple years, I have worked temporary jobs, accepted freelance writing assignments and collected unemployment benefits. Jamie is going to college and working full-time, and before long she’ll have to quit her job to student-teach. We owed more money on our house than it was worth, and because our “property value” had supposedly increased, the mortgage bill was going up nearly $100 per month. Jamie’s student loans were racking up, too.

And now we had a $3,000-plus debt due immediately.

The situation wasn’t pretty.

Just then I noticed the fortune cookie sitting on my lap, and inspiration struck.

I decided we could use all the good karma we could find to help us through this mess.

It was then that I came up with the idea for the project, which I’ve named “My Daily Fortune.”

My plan is simple: I am going to buy 365 fortune cookies. Starting on Jan. 1, 2011, I will open one fortune cookie per day. If the fortune is an instruction of some kind – i.e., “Share a secret with a close friend this week” – I will follow the instruction to the letter. If it is truly a fortune – i.e., “A song will provide inspiration,” I will listen to the universe’s cosmic signs and look far and wide for a meaning in the message.

Additionally, I will buy one lottery ticket per day with the lucky numbers on the back of each fortune.

I figure this project will cost me only the price of the fortune cookies, plus $365 for a daily lottery ticket.

What’s in it for me? Well, most fortunes I’ve read try to pass along a positive message – basically, be nice to your fellow man, and you’ll be rewarded in the end. I can’t see anything wrong with following that dictum for one year. I don’t expect to strike it rich in the lottery, but if I’m giving myself wholeheartedly to this project, buying a daily lottery ticket with the lucky numbers seems like the right thing to do.

I’m not trying to make a statement about philosophy or religion here. But I am, without question, looking for a life-changing experience.

I will make daily posts on this blog, listing my fortune and my lucky numbers, and I’ll also keep a commentary on how those fortunes are fulfilled.

Won’t you come along with me on this journey?

Check back on Jan. 1, 2011, for the beginning.

--Matt Kelsey