Two nights ago I accidentally swallowed my fortune. Well, not my literal fortune- but I did swallow that small piece of paper that sits inside of a fortune cookie. You may be wondering how I could do such a careless thing? Well, allow me to explain. Please do not disregard me just because of my silly error. I have a story to tell and the ending will be pleasant enough to compensate for my lapse in mindfulness.
You see, I had not gone out for Chinese food in over a decade. It had been an even longer time since I have eaten a fortune cookie. I abstained from eating Chinese food because the high sodium intake and MSG that is added to the food causes my blood pressure to rise and my mind to get lost in a numb lethargy. I can’t think straight and I feel the pulsations in my body like a sailor feels the turbulent sea beneath his feet. So in order to avoid these traumatic side effects of Chinese food I have just abstained from eating.
But this does not mean that I do not crave Chinese food from time to time. Chicken chow mien, pot stickers and won ton soup are some of my favorite dishes and occasionally I will have a longing for all or one of them that causes me to forget about the traumatic side effects of Chinese food. The other night when I went to dinner with my wife I assumed that since I had not eaten Chinese food in over ten years I could afford a slip, a lapse in judgment, a high dose of sodium and MSG.
The meal was delicious but the moment I felt the lethargy come on I started to drink pints of ice water to keep my mind from becoming to foggy. I felt my heart begin to palpitate after I ate the lemon grass chicken but the dinner was so delicious that I was able to ignore my physical symptoms. I had food stains on my t-shirt (a sign of a good meal) and when the waitress brought two fortune cookies with the bill- I wasted no time in eating one. My wife looked at me like I had just told her an unbelievable joke. She said “you’ve got to be kidding me” as she cracked open her fortune cookie. I swallowed mine. “What?” I asked. “You just swallowed your fortune,” she said.
I took a deep breath and thought about what I had just done. How bad could it be to swallow a piece of paper with small amounts of black ink on it? I asked my wife if I could see her fortune and noticed that the piece of paper was not much bigger than my pinkie. No sweat, I thought even though I was slightly nervous when I left the restaurant that I could suffer some adverse effect from swallowing a fortune.
Surprisingly, for the rest of the evening I felt fine. My wife and I went out for a beer and we laughed a lot together (something that we do not often do anymore). My mood was unusually good and I told my wife several stories that I had never told her before. The high sodium content in the food and the MSG that I had consumed was not negatively affecting me in the least. In fact, I was feeling stronger, healthier, more satisfied than I ever remember feeling before. It was as if I was having an adverse reaction from the Chinese food. Except this time rather than feeling ill I felt high on life. My body in turn was singing the praises of my good mood.
That evening my wife and I made passionate love for the first time in over a year. We connected on an astral level that required us to leave our bodies behind. Our souls melted into one another and we slept wrapped up in one another’s arms with smiles carved into our faces. The following morning I awoke rested and rejuvenated. You must understand that this is highly unusual for me. Normally I wake up feeling like I was perpetually hit over the head all night long. My back aches. I am grumpy and I don’t want to talk to anyone. On this morning I got out of bed without a trace of agony in my lower back. I made my wife breakfast in bed, after which we made love again. After, I did something I NEVER do. I took the dog for a long walk before it was even ten am.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that yesterday was the best day of my life. I was more alive than I have ever been. My mood was positive the entire day through and I laughed enough to supply every member of my community with an ounce of joy. I painted, did yoga, sat for thirty minutes in meditation, did some gardening, wrote two poems, bought my wife flowers, filled up the refrigerator with groceries, sent my therapist a birthday card, took my dog for another afternoon walk, did laundry, changed the sheets on the bed, cleaned the bathroom, and mopped the floors. I have not been this productive in years. On a normal day- I am lucky if I do two of these tasks. What happened to me yesterday is nothing short of a miracle.
When my wife came home from school she was shocked to see the effects of my day. The house was clean, fresh flowers sat beside her bed, I was cooking us a decadent dinner and strangely of all I had a smile upon my face. “Wow honey! I love this you,” she said throwing her arms around me. “I love this me too,” I replied while directing her to the dinner table that I had set with candles, fine silverware and a bottle of organic red wine. “You should eat Chinese food more often,” she said and then we both laughed out loud. This was definitely unusual behavior.
After dinner that evening I noticed a pressure pushing against my stomach. This let me know that it was time to go to the bathroom. As much as you may not want to hear this part of the story it is a part of the story that must be told. As I sat on the toilet I had one of the smoothest, most prodigious bowl movements that I have ever had in my life. It was like I had done a colon cleanse. All the toxins that had burrowed themselves between my intestines came flowing out like water from the Nile. My body felt so effervescent that I felt that I might drift away. When I stood up I immediately felt the pain return to my lower back and the cynical heaviness return to my mood. I looked in the toilet at all that detritus and noticed a whitish fortune floating on top.
To spare my reader from any inappropriate details I will only say that I lifted the fortune out from the toilet and cleared off the print so that I could read what it said. I noticed that my chronic headache was starting to return and I suddenly felt a bit unwell from all the meat and wine I had just eaten. I looked closely at the fortune which said, “To know health, to experience health is a mans greatest wealth.” I was not yet able to make the connection between my day of vitality and health and the act of swallowing this fortune. Instead, I placed the fortune back in the toilet and flushed. I took a deep breath, came out of the bathroom and my wife took one worried look at me, dropped her smile and said,”oh boy- he’s back.”