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)

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  1. faith, hope, possibility — those are true fortunes — and learning how to shore them up when tested. I’m with you on the bumper sticker, too.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this myself. For the most part, I think hard work and determination help to create our futures. Luck has a big part in that, as well. Nobody can tell you your fortune. But you are talented and hard-working and that bodes well for a decent future. (Dusting off my crystal ball now…) Cheers!

  3. You are to go to Atlantic City tomorrow afternoon at 2:47 PM, and bet your entire savings on a single spin of the roulette wheel. Put it all on a red number.

    (And come back to tell me of your new wealth and success…)

    I see in my crystal ball that if you throw pepper over your left shoulder each morning for the next twenty days, the tigers will stay away, and you will live to see old age.

    (And don’t forget to make your next month’s appointment with our receptionist on the way out…)

    The cards say strongly that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. 🙂

    1. Wanna go with me to bet? 🙂

  4. Wonderful piece, Monica! It is so easy for us to get hooked on “fortune tellers” because what they “foretell” are always things we WANT to happen, not necessarily what will really happen. And yes, you are right, we are the masters of our own fortune, no one else.

  5. I have also been discouraged by people, people who took it upon themselves to cut me down. What I never understand is why people think its a good thing to tell anyone to give up on an ambitious goal.
    I remember telling our shared heroine Antonia Allegra about an awful event along those lines, and she said “Comments from colleagues may distract, but you just keep moving forward.”
    That was fortune telling that actually came true.

    1. I so agree with Toni. You are amazing, keep on rocking on!

    2. Robin,
      I completely agree with you. Those close-minded open-mouthed people have a warped way of stepping into a person’s life.
      Dream big and work with integrity toward that dream. “Keep moving forward” is my motto too.

  6. I know how it feels, Monica!

    My grandparents got married in the midst of the ‘rahukalam’ when no one in their right senses would do anything good at that time and they were one of the successful and happy couples!

    A late friend of mine read my palm when I was 18 and told me that I would be getting married at 24 and that too a ‘love’ marriage. I was so sure that I will never have a ‘love’ marriage because I simply didn’t want to. In the end, it was a ‘love’ marriage at 24 🙂

    I always read the ‘predictions for a Gemini for the upcoming year’ sort of articles and take in only the good things. I never bother for the bad stuff they say in there.

    Like Paulo Coelho says,’And when you want something,all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it’. I would like to believe in that ,again only when I want 🙂

    1. I used to read a lot of my Leo horoscopes and then they became “horroscopes”! So now I try to read for fun and ignore the bad parts.. just like you do. Thanks for taking the time to comment

  7. There are various versions of the quote, “keep one foot on solid ground and one foot on a banana peel.” To me it means be willing to take risks, move outside your comfort zone and think outside the box, but in the process don’t forget what you already know to be true and your good sense. Success probably lies in the middle somewhere though that “middle” probably slides back and forth all the time. Another idea with the same meaning (in my opinion) is my own version of what you’ve written, “Remember, you have both a left and a right brain. Use both.”

    Though Og Mandino said it more eloquently than I do, I’ve really found the following to be true in my life. “Each misfortune you encounter will carry in it the seed of tomorrow’s good luck.” It’s sometimes hard to remember when you’re experiencing misfortune or experiencing bad times, but many of the good things that have occurred in my life would not have happened had the bad thing not occurred. Life provides for us many lessons, the key is to learn from all of them.

  8. I have begun a deep practice of listening with intention to my inner voice, my deepest instincts. I have always been one to look inside, but this feels different, more still. It also has shown me how busy my mind is – and how what is real comes from the spaces in between the chatter of my mind.

  9. What a wonderful post, Monica. I am guilty of making regular trips to the fortune teller. One per year, at least. And then there are the other “fortune tellers” in my life that don’t do it professionally. You are so right. No one knows. But somehow it’s comforting (or not) to hear someone guess. And no, by all means, you should NOT go back to your day job. Keep the good stuff coming! I love your writing. It always inspires and coaxes a smile. Thanks.

  10. Monica,
    Great Post!

    Common sense is not so common! Thats why there are so many forturne tellers isnt it? Hard work, humility, integrity, common sense and consitency will create the fortunes we all want! If we can sustain these traits, then I guess we dont need fortune tellers!

  11. I was not a believer of astrologers. Recently I visited my native place and went with my cousin to an astrologer. He read my horoscope and told me a lot of things which have happened in my life. As I was leaving he told me to be careful that I don’t fall. And if it happened I should go to a doctor and not take it lightly. After about ten days, as I was just getting out of the car, I twisted my knee so badly that I almost fainted with pain. The x-ray showed no fracture. There was a swelling and it was painful. I was given some pain killer.
    Three days later, when the pain and swelling did not abate, my daughter insisted I go for an MRI. The MRI showed a fracture as well as a few ligament tears. It is almost 3 months and my leg is on the mend. Should I believe or not is now my question.

  12. This is the kind of inspiration I just needed with my coffee this morning. I spent a night of tossing in bed worrying about inane stuff that won’t matter anyway. It’s heartwarming to read your article ~ after a few minutes of reading this my angst vanished, and I’m renewed with the faith again. Thanks for a great post, Monica!

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