“Your mind is creative, original and alert.”

I have a bit of a thing about fortune cookies — or, at least the fortunes.

It started in the Get Out days, when I would hold on to any interesting fortunes I got during lunch; eventually I started collecting the slips of paper my friends discarded, too. (Hoarder alert!) It took awhile to decide what to do with them, but after one of my attempted forays into oil painting went horribly awry, I had my solution: Start gluing.

I meant for it to be like posters and flyers on metro walls and buildings — layer upon layer of events promoted and discarded — but realized that that doesn’t really work if you can’t read the fortunes. So instead I settled on a single layer, and slipped in some repetition throughout, doubling up on fortunes such as “Your present plans are going to succeed.” (Click on thumbnail to see larger).

The finished piece hangs in the hallway, and about twice a month when I’m walking by I’ll be inspired to blindly stick out a finger and jab at a fortune to be read aloud. Right now I can see the original painting underneath, which is a nice nod to the effort made (and abandoned), but as the ink on some of the fortunes fades I might reconsider and add another stratus of slips to the canvas.

Meanwhile, another batch of fortunes sits in a jar amid the collection of Sharpies on my desk at work. Whenever it’s been a tough day, I can draw one out and get a quick hit of motivation or positive reinforcement. “Your co-workers take pleasure in your great sense of creativity.” “A smile is a passport into the hearts of others.” “Go above and beyond your duty. You will benefit from it.” (Ugh, to that last one, but a good reminder.)

Back in May 2009, I decided to harness their power for a better good, and I posted the below to my Facebook profile.

On my desk I have, alongside my arranged-by-color Sharpies, a small jar filled with carefully curated fortunes collected from Chinese fortune cookies. When I’m feeling drained, I can draw out one of the dozens of slips of paper for a boost:

“Make those special talents you have work like a charm.” “Your mind is creative, original and alert.” “Beautiful things await you.”

It’s usually enough to help me through a challenging day at work — and I am lucky to say that on the scale of things, those challenges are surmountable.

Many of you are probably not aware that my father’s battle with cancer has recently taken a spectacular nosedive; the disease has spread from his lymph nodes into bones and vital organs.

On June 4 he will begin what is probably the final attempt to prolong his life: chemotherapy with a different drug, which offers a 1-in-7 chance of helping. I will be home for those first days to offer love and support to him … but eventually I will also have to return to work.

So I’m hoping to create a large-scale version of my fortune jar, but instead of Chinese fortunes my father would be able to select messages from which he could draw hope, faith and strength.

When you have a moment, please put pen to paper and write a very simple message of support. No essays required — in fact, since most of you have never met my father, just a single sentence of encouragement or your favorite inspirational quotation might be better.

Unfortunately, because my parents refuse to join the computer age, the message has to go the old-fashioned way — via mail. The family address is:
[address was here]

For a return address, just draw a heart. I hate to think of him trying to work through thank-you cards, or trying to figure out how he knows you when he doesn’t.

And while I don’t intend for this to go viral or anything, if you know someone else you believe would be kind enough to do the same, I would greatly appreciate it if you passed them the information. I hope that my father will be touched to know that people all over are rooting for him and offering him reserves of strength and hope when he needs it.

I’m happy to report that he received hundreds of cards; after his death, I held on to a few particularly meaningful ones. My friend Bob later asked if he could reprint my note in his Missouri newspaper, but ask his readers to direct their cards to those in a local long-term care facility, and I thought it was a fitting way to continue what I had dubbed “the power of positive printing.”

The shirt: Cotton button-down, from J. Crew outlet in Anthem.
The shorts: Slim straight jeans from Lucky Brand, Chandler Fashion center.
The shoes: Custom All-Stars by Converse, a gift from Funny Michael.

5 responses to ““Your mind is creative, original and alert.”

  1. “Do not wish to be anything but what you are and do that perfectly.”

    I think you’ve got that one down.

  2. Sam, I wish I had known about this while you and your family were going through it. I would have loved to send a note to your dad. I always enjoyed the time I spent with both of you in Missoula. (Can’t believe I can’t remember the name of that chicken place.)

    • How could you forget the DOUBLE FRONT? I still have dreams about that place sometimes. One of my clients is in Missoula, and I sometimes ask them to eat there just to tell me how it was.

  3. Didn’t forget the place, just the name. I wasn’t even sure they were still open. I will have to go there next time I’m in Missoula and I will give you a report.

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