About four years ago, I was going through the mental tortures of whether or not to finally go through with my nearly 20-year delayed hip replacement surgery. The doctors told me “no” and “wait out as long as you can, Mary” because of my chronological age, but my body was telling me “yes, we think it is time” because of my physical age. I already knew from past procedures and experiences that it would not be the roughly 2 hour surgery that would affect me the most, but it would be the mental anguish anticipation before the surgery and the recovery and rehabilitation aftermath that would lead to life and self-transformations. Was it just better to settle and stay with the pain I had known my entire life? Or, did I just finally plunge in to a procedure that everyone claimed was a quality life saver and giver?
I relied on my body to talk to me, but a vulnerable body is weakened even more by a mind that is already so powerful and goes into a raging and locker-shoving bully more often than not in decision-making mode. It did not help that I was already an over analyzer and thinker that eventually reached a point where I could not handle the mental bully and would just do whatever just to shut it up. “Whatever” was, to me, the same as “rash decisions.” Yes, I have been guilty of those. Alas, I am my worst enemy. Then again, aren’t we all?
My father, of course, knows how my mind works. Probably because his mind is somewhat the same, but on a much more advanced level that I can only wish to attain one day. My entire family felt the intense ripple effects of my worries, concerns, thoughts, and cares with what I should do. This is the thing about family and illnesses—you will hear the surface story, but you will never listen to the underlying stories that earthquake the entire family foundation—if there is even a foundation to begin with.
My father stepped in with a request to see a fortune teller.
Truth be told, I was surprised with his resolution response, but not overly surprised when he indicated the importance of seeing the fortune teller to predict the long-term outlook of my health and the short-term determination if it was, indeed, the right timing to undergo surgery number—well, truth be told, we had lost track at that point. Timing is almost everything in life.
The supposedly best fortune teller to foresee our entire family’s future was concluded to be in Taiwan. Therefore, that summer that my stepmother headed to Taiwan for her annual vacation of dumpling popping, family reuniting, and fun exploring required the side trip of meeting this fortune teller.
Upon the fortune teller’s request, my stepmother distributed out all our birth dates. Upon my stepmother’s return, I eagerly expected tales of images that appeared in the foggy crystal ball, the cloaked and mysterious fortune teller with piercing eyes that could decipher the soul of my future and of me, and the conclusions from long and winding palm lines. What would my future be? Would I be a success in terms of society of marriage, children, and a job? Most importantly, would I be healthy?
Instead, my stepmother handed me a rustic red scroll filled with delicate and intricate Chinese characters written on it. Here was this piece of paper that told me my future, and I could not even read it. Translating for the fortune teller, she explained my future:
By now, I was supposed to be married if I really wanted it (whatever that meant) or at least meet my soul mate; Did not happen. The fortune teller also predicted that I would be married, but later in life; Question mark and shrug of shoulders to fortune teller. By now, I would have enjoyed blissful and blessed years of good health after a successful hip replacement; Checkmate, fortune teller. In my 40’s, I would have to deal with another major health issue or scare; On edge now, fortune teller. After the 40’s, the fortune teller could not see any more years of my life. This had and still has me wondering that maybe I am destined to be dead by the time I’m 50.
I was distraught and upset. In the days after, I examined the scroll carefully to try to understand the unreadable Chinese characters. My innate over contemplative quality kicked in overdrive, leaving me with more wandering thoughts and questions than answers about my future. Could I fight against what the fortune teller had predicted or was my future now destined and set in stone by him? What or who exactly makes our futures? Do we make our future from the feelings of inadequacy that we are losers, never good enough, and our inner demons that haunt us and eventually motivate us to create our future? Or, are our futures made from something more that is beyond us, cannot be seen, and that is written in the stars and in the heavens above that no fortune teller, crystal ball, or scroll of Chinese characters says?
A fortune teller I never met who wrote my future only based on my mere birth date made me search inward that there comes a point where the thinking and analyzing of outsiders and ourselves must stop for “the plunge,” or action and doing, to begin.
I admit it. 33 years later, and I still get as self-conscious as ever. I still feel like I face-off with my worst enemy much more than I care or ever wish to. All of us and most definitely I have wasted and still waste time and energy on caring and worrying about what others thought or still think about me, resulting in the worst case scenario of self-fulfilling prophecy—you are or become what others perceive and believe. However, the great gifts that come from self-conscious, worst enemy, and inadequacy are motivation and the desire to improve to look towards and forward to create the future.
I have always mentally battled with the decision-making process in regards to my future out of fear that the choices I made will be filled with regrets. However, I always act and eventually plunge accordingly out of my own personal refusal to live a life of misery or complaints. I refuse and choose and, from there on, destiny and higher above heavens will play their parts completely out of my hands and control. And, I am coming to accept this. All of this.
I often wish that there is a temporary off-switch to my brain. To quiet and silence my loud mind for just a little while. Every so often, I will think of the fortune teller and the scroll in the midst of such loud thoughts that play in my head and I think how this anonymous fortune teller made me realize that my greatest fortune lies in my abilities to act and be my very own fortune teller.
What or who exactly do you think makes our futures? Is it you? Or, is it beyond you?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,