Each day, when I go get lunch at the school cafeteria, I pick up one fortune cookie to eat before the meal. I do so, knowing that no matter how unpredictable the taste of the meal may be, this cookie will always be a crunchy constant with an ordinary taste that the cafeteria simply can’t get wrong. And by ordinary, I don’t mean that the cookie is unappetizing. On the contrary, a little certainty is an integral part of a well-balanced lunch. As bland as the crunchy treat may be, that crunchy sweet will never disappoint me.
But like how there’s two halves in the fortune cookie, there’s a twofold benefit to picking it up. A slip of paper hidden inside the folded treat. Some sort of message meant only for me, as though I was awaiting my order to go from sleeper agent to Double O’ Seven… to come to me from an Americanized Chinese restaurant dessert.
It sounds absurd, but I still get pretty excited to see what that slip of paper is going to tell me. I don’t care if I already know that a cheesy aphorism is going to be printed on it; I want to believe I’ll be surprised.
Then I uncurl the slip, and it proudly informs me, “Getting started is half the work.”
I get a familiar message every time. Maybe a pair of words had been substituted… the aphorism is the same. But what was I expecting anyway? For a mass-produced slogan to rouse me to action?
Yeah, that is what I’m expecting. I expect my cookie to inspire me, since my own will isn’t going to motivate itself. I’m naturally a boring beast of inaction, incapacitated by distraction and procrastination, but I know in my mind and my writing I aspire to be a man of drive, propelled forward in life by an ignited fuel tank filled with the liquid manifestation of my own will. It’s a half-arsed metaphor I feel is so close to becoming literal. So close that just a cleverly-worded slogan in a fortune cookie could fill in for a spark.
And that’s all I’ve really ever needed to get myself to work—the right words to live by. You don’t need to live by role models, if you know already who you are. You don’t need to have a specific goal, if you already have a direction. You do need a slogan, however, if you’re too lazy to think of the phrase yourself! And that’s what I am—Lazy!
It doesn’t matter where it comes from. The message will be the same no matter the source, but the wording is what really matters. The right combination turns the stale platitude into the catalyst that will ignite the will! An inspiring motto comes from everywhere, and I know that one day I’ll find it in my fortune cookie.