Goddess mug shot The Goddess Speaks

Christy Wong

Fortune-stick forecast
can’t pierce the heart

A while back, a coworker suggested I have my fortune read by one of our mutual friends. Except instead of "fortune," I heard "torture": "Did you know Mrs. K does Chinese stick torture? You should check it out!"

Huh? No thanks! -- Oh, Chinese stick fortune. Yin-yang fortune sticks, to be more precise. I decided to ask for a reading, because despite the fact that a Ouija card game once predicted that at age 25 I'd be a wealthy, philanthropic widow living on a desert island, I've maintained a certain levelheaded interest in astrology and most things related.

("Levelheaded" meaning that when my syndicated horoscope forecast recommends that I indulge in some kind of chocolate-fest, take a trip to Vegas, or do whatever I was already planning to do, I'm a believer; when it recommends eating a salad for lunch or warns against impulse purchases, I'm highly skeptical.)

I dropped by Mrs. K's that day. She told me that before I drew two sticks (with numbers printed on them, concealed by her hand), I had to think of one specific area of my life I wanted to know more about. Love? Business? Goals? Travel? (I nixed travel right away. Who needs to know in advance that they're going to lose all their money in Vegas? Not me.)

Love, I decided. How could I go wrong? I pulled the 3 stick, then the 8, and hoped for the best. We flipped open the interpretation book to the corresponding page, which read "Earth and Fire" at the top. (According to traditional Chinese astrology, I'm an Earth Horse, so I figured I was off to a good start in terms of accuracy.) It was all downhill from there.

Apparently if I continued on my chosen path, I would meet with nothing but despair and darkness. "You will be hurt by this person," the book warned. At first I shrugged it off -- "I guess today I'm a skeptic," I said with faux cheer. Even though Mrs. K told me to return in a week to try again, I scowled all the way home, forgetting that I had pinned my hopes on pieces of wood.

WAS I UPSET because the person who had drawn sticks just before me had been assured that his financial situation was about to improve, or because Mrs. K had delivered some impressively accurate readings in the past? Or was I feeling unsettled because I knew in my heart that despite the reported reliability of the sticks, my forecast couldn't be true because the person it described would never hurt me?

That night I thought a lot about fate and whether I believed in it. If our fates are written indelibly in the stars, does it mean we have no control over our destinies? I realized that the key is choice. We choose how to conduct ourselves, and we choose how to treat people. We choose whom to put our faith in, and later, we choose to believe whether it was worth our best effort.

Just as the Ouija cards couldn't predict my future, a pair of wooden sticks could not change the faith in my heart, nor could it change the infallible kindness another person's heart has shown me. I believe in fate: it is the outcome of the choices we make.

I still consult the Magic 8 Ball whenever I browse through a toy store. ("Should I pick up some french fries on the way home?" Answer: "Not on your life." All right then, I'll buy them at the food court and eat them before I leave.)

Recently, I asked Mrs. K if I could consult the sticks for a business forecast. The result: "You will be met with failure. Don't attempt a business endeavor at this time in your life."

Oh well, I thought, just before I submitted my proposal. I've always been a skeptic.

Christy Wong is a substitute teacher with the Department of Education and a masters of education student at Chaminade.

The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and
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