I collect fortunes, the kind in cookies with stock words of hope and wisdom that always work better in bed. I don’t mean to collect them. I don’t mean to believe in signs or be superstitious or have any faith at all in horoscopes or fate or predestination about my future. And yet.
When I’m especially happy and things are going particularly well, I tend to think: there will come a day when things won’t be going quite this well. Enjoy this now while you can. Today is one of those not-quite-as-well moments, one of those days, those weeks, when I’m feeling particularly beaten down and overcome. So what does my fortune say?
The tiny slips of paper speak of resolution, success, happiness, thoughtfulness, and joy. No one wants to break open a fortune cookie to learn about despair, pain, and heartbreak, after all. But the uniformity of positive feelings makes me question the reliability. Surely everyone doesn’t have a happy future to look to all the time? I fear the fortune cookies have failed me.
Where else can I turn? Horoscope.com perhaps? “Staying positive and upbeat is the best way to go today, as a particular planetary formation suggests that a tricky situation will be caused by someone’s clumsy or even unnecessary criticism. However, as soon as you realize why this person is behaving in this way you’ll feel much, much better!”
Well, fantastic. I’ll feel much better once I realize the planets have aligned to make someone into a jerk. Not all that helpful actually. Yahoo’s advice is a bit better, if unreachable: “Ease up on workaholic tendencies. Pointless frivolity is just what the stars ordered right now. It’s a good time to seek out some fun-loving pals and cement the bonds of friendship. Rewire those connections to refresh your soul.” And my “couples” horoscope (who knew there was such a thing?) is “the situation is almost completely beyond your control now. It’s a good opportunity to practice letting go.”
Pointless frivolity. Frivolousness without a point. I’m drowning, sinking, being pulled down; I’m suffocating, gasping for air. I have nothing to hold on to. My mind is unable to get itself around the idea of frivolity.
It’s not as bad as all that, of course. I’m just in period of darkness. I know it will be followed by light. For now, I’m inching along in the dark, one hand in front of me, feeling my way rather than seeing it. And letting go? When you’re not holding on to anything, those are words that make no sense. They clang around the room and fall to the ground with a crash that has no meaning.
I’m not Buffy, 16 years old, just hearing that the prophecy calls for my death. I’m not on my way out to an underground church so an ugly vampire can suck me dry. I’m just human. And tired. And wishing for things to be other than they are.