A few years ago, a dear friend told me to buy a book called, “A Fortune Teller Told me.” It is a book about a jet-setting reporter, Tiziano Terzani, who was advised by an Asian fortune-teller not to fly for a year or he would surely die. The reporter was told that he had to do all his traveling by car or train or boat. Instead of ignoring the fortune-teller, the author embraced the prediction. He did not fly and chose to do his work by crisscrossing Asia without ever setting foot off solid ground. Then, of course, predictably, he wrote a book about his adventure.
I enjoyed the book. It is very interesting read.
But something about the fortune-teller stayed with me.
I kept thinking about all the “fortune tellers” in my own life. I have had people tell me all kinds of things ranging from: “You are going to be a complete disaster as a writer” to “You are going to win amazing awards for your writing.” The people who “predict” these are not psychic or gifted astrologers but rather they are people who genuinely care about me and my well-being.
Whether I like it or not, they are my personal fortune tellers.
So the question arises, whom should I listen to?
The gloom and doom teller or the all things are glorious teller?
I happen to think both are wrong but, in my heart of hearts I worry.. what if they are not? Should I go back to my day job? Should I start clearing counters for all the awards I am going to win?
It is very hard not to let other people define who we are and who we want to be. The author of the book I mentioned above was one of the lucky few. His predication helped him out. Most don’t. They are exactly opposite: they are truly detrimental to success. At least that is what I feel. Let’s say I took the gloomy prediction about my career seriously, then I have done myself a disservice by not even trying. And if I take the glorious prediction, then I am setting myself up for having my hopes and expectations crushed if the fortune teller is wrong.
The only one who can predict the future is: NO ONE.
Many smart and savvy people can predict what could possibly happen but with a 100% certainty? No way.
We have to live with these fortune tellers but not with their prophecies. We have to learn to live in the realm of possibility, of hope, of faith. We have to create our own fortunes.
I was thinking about this as I was driving this morning. I stopped at a light and read the sticker on the car in front of me: “True faith will always be rewarded.” Now, that is the fortune you can take to the bank.
(istock photo with the sentence altered…by me)