Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Better By Change

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Total Black: $2,073.79
Total Red: $230,820.71

I met a friend today for lunch.  We had Chinese.  It was quick and cheap.  Nothing amazing.  But not bad either.  Just one of those nice moments you enjoy. We lingered a bit after finishing.  The waiter brought our bill.  And, of course, on the mini tray with our check were placed two fortune cookies.  I took the one closest to me and gave the other to my friend.  I had heard somewhere that the fortune won’t come true unless you eat the entire cookie first before reading it.  Naturally, I can’t confirm or deny the veracity of such a claim.  But why tempt the fates, eh?  So, I ate up my cookie and then looked at the fortune.  In Make the Man, Make the Money I observed that fortune cookies today rarely seem to have a fortune.  Instead they’re filled with wise sayings or prescient observations.  That held true for this fortune cookie as well.  It said, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”

I can’t imagine a more appropriate fortune for my current situation.  It’s something I’ve written about before, but haven’t said so succinctly.  Many of us, myself included, slip into that narcotic state of mind whereby we invest all of our hopes and dreams in fickle Fate and abandon our own agency.  We forget that chance—winning the lottery or marrying rich or landing that great job—doesn’t always come out for good.  Chance can also wreak havoc—a car accident or a serious illness or unemployment.  We tend to see chance as our last hope for improving our lot in life and fail to see that it’s we, ourselves, who can really improve our lot in life.

I’m not a religious person but I was raised Catholic and I’ve always respected the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.”  In a sense, isn’t that today’s fortune cookie, but just spun another way?  Whether it’s God or Chance, in both scenarios you give up your agency to something beyond yourself and instead lie back in wait for the world to bring improvement to you.  I’m learning that it doesn’t really work that way.  Even the principles laid out in The Secret by Rhonda Byrne imply those same points: you must bring into your own life what you want in it.  The fortune cookie implies that physical labor will make our lives better.  The religious saying holds that God will make betterment manifest once we take steps in a positive direction.  The Secret claims that mental power and our thoughts will bring the change we desire.  Yet in all three, whether you think it, believe it, or do it, it’s some form of change coupled with action that leads to improvement.

My friend hadn’t eaten his fortune cookie so I asked him why.  He said he didn’t like them.  So I decided to take it.  I figured I could always do with an extra bit of good fortune.  I was a bit taken aback when I saw the similarity to the first fortune.  “Change has both physical and psychological attributes.”  This fortune seems to merge the point I made above, namely that change requires physical and psychological effort—and I might even add spiritual.  Both fortunes emphasized the larger point that change is the only way to make our lives better.

We’re better by change, not by by chance.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

December 5, 2009 at 23:31

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