Friday, January 23, 2009

If The Table Moves, Move With It.

It occurred to me today that my first two blogs were of a serious nature, giving a somewhat skewed picture of my true personality. So I've decided to move one step from the "sublime to the ridiculous", as Napoleon Bonaparte once said. And no, I have not been alive long enough to have known him, though he would have been interesting to meet. But it is in the spirit of his quote that I introduce today's subject: fortune cookies.

And you thought I was going to discuss something French, didn't you?

It is one of the more odd coincidences in my life that I am forever receiving cellophane-wrapped treats which are remarkably relevant. Now, one would think an extraterrestrial of exceptional abilities wouldn't care about the philosophy presented on a scrap of paper hidden in a cookie, but we aliens are as in need of good advice as anyone else.

This particular cookie was obtained in a Vietnamese restaurant which has a wonderfully savory whole fish steamed
with lemongrass and cilantro. For those who don't yet know me, eating is one of my most cherished activities when I take on human form, at least number two or three on the list. And I admit to being fond of these brittle, vanilla-scented sweets as well, even though I know they're likely full of preservatives and have been mass-produced for a largely American audience (you didn't think they were Chinese, did you?), and the fortunes are likely written by moonlighting greeting-card writers rather than acolytes of Confucius. I still like the cookies. And this one was remarkable:

If the table moves, move with it.

My companion, who was inhaling a rather unimaginative (on her part, it was cooked well enough) sweet and sour chicken at the time, thought it meant that one should not allow the furniture to be pulled away from one until the meal is finished. She is a literal sort and inclined to believe what she sees. You can imagine what it is like to be an alien pretending to be a human around her.

I chose to read somewhat more into it. What is a table, but the place before us upon which is placed the feast? Or to be a little less pedantic, the table is life, and life moves. When it does not unfold as we expect, we're sometimes at a loss as to what to do about it. We spend an inordinate amount of time (I am no less guilty of this than anyone else) trying to get life back on track to where we thought it should be. When, in fact, it would be much easier to simply move with it.

You see? No thick tomes of esoteric Earth philosophy for this visitor - you caught my attention with the seven words that would fit on this sliver of paper. I have promised to heed the table in front of me, and if the furniture takes off in an unforeseen direction, I won't try to nail it to the floor - I'll just pick up my chair and follow.

As a side note, I have since discovered that the quote is actually well-known, although I've yet to find much on its author, a Mr. (Ms?) Sakaue. But knowing my baker-philosopher did not invent the saying does not negate my wonder at having received it, because it is only a part of the package. The other side of the fortune contains the usual lesson in Chinese, which I can't reproduce completely for you here as my typewriter does not have the necessary characters. I can only provide the phonetic pronunciation and its English translation:

Chean ju yee. Please pay attention.

Now what could
be better than that?

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