Fortune Cookie Philosophy

You know you do it, I do it, we all do it. At the end of that usually way too oily Chinese dinner , we get that  sealed fortune cookie, on the brown tray with the bill we cannot read.  Even if you don’t like the fortune cookie, you know you look forward to cracking it open to find that message along with the your lucky red, lotto numbers on the back. I wonder if anyone ever goes to the casino with that little slip of paper, in search of their fortune? We all read them aloud to each other, and secretly hope that ours are right the one for us. If they are not we just assume they grabbed first, but it was really meant for us.  I have even saved them in my wallet until they disintegrate into lucky dust.  I had dinner with a man recently who was most self-centered and only spoke about himself. When he cracked open his fortune cookie, it was empty. I had to laugh and told him maybe it was a sign? I also then acted codependently and gave him mine.  I am fascinated by how much stock we put in these dry little cookies that are made out of God knows what?

If we are that impressionable about what this bit of hope predicts, then why don’t we do that everyday?  Why save this little custom for Chinese dessert?  Why not keep a jar in your home and everyday pick one out before you leave?  These cookies could be filled with inspiration and encourage kindness for yourself and the planet.  If we are so easily coached and motivated by a cookie, it would be great if we could use these little treats  more often for a higher purpose. That being said, if I could give you all a fortune cookie it would say, “if all you ever do is become the best version of yourself that you can, then you have succeeded.” By the way, I recommend #28, tofu with veggies.

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From The Inside Out

As I was attempting to get my van windows clean this morning, I was hard to differentiate which spots were on the inside and which were on the outside.  As I continued in this pursuit of perfection, it occurred to me that is also how we see the world, and those in it. We can only see through our own spots, streaks, stories and wounds.  When something really bothers you about someone, there is good information in there.  I have long hated that saying, “if you spot it you got it,” and my ego will try to analyze that away. This is not to say when I see horrific acts of cruelty and violence that I am too like that to others, but have I ever been that way to myself?  Yes, I have in fact been less than loving to myself at times. I am referring more so to when we have an ongoing annoyance with someone. Do we in fact own a bit of the same story?  For instance, when my daughter comes home from school, I often ask her right away to do her chores. I see used drinking glasses, and plates in her room, and it irritates me to no end. Do I have coffee cups, and left over plates in my office sometimes?  I absolutely do.  This attempt to rectify behavior in others when we in fact have it, seems to be have gone on since the earth’s crust cooled. We have long tried to get others to see it our way, and that dance will continue until the sun burns out.  My duaghter taught me a great lesson when she was about three years old.  I picked out an adorable outfit for her, but was met with great resistance. I was in disbelief, I mean how could any little girl not think this was a precious outfit?  After several failed attempts at convincing her to put it on, she placed her hands on her tiny hips and looked up at me with complete conviction and said, “Mommy, everybody has their own certain ways.”  No truer words were ever spoken. So I will spend more time trying to clean my own metaphoric windshield, so that I might see less imperfection in others. Now where is that mental mirco fiber cloth?

Letting Go of the Laughter

It has been two weeks today, since I got the text that Robin Williams died. I stared in disbelief at my phone, thinking certainly it was a hoax, the same kind that promises me I will make a dollar from Bill Gates every time I share a message on Facebook.  The reality finally seeped into all my conscious crevices, like a cold rain. The year I started comedy, I watched Robin Williams dazzle a sold out house at the Metropolitan Opera House, and I wept. I thought “what would it feel like to have that many people love you like that?” I do so hope he really knew the answer to that.

The marriage between despair and humor seems inseparable. Laughter and tears have the same cord that connects them on opposite ends.  The funniest person in the room, might also just be the loneliest?  After the lights go off, and the audience and help goes home, there you are, all alone. I have stood on stages with thousands of people in front of me, and then gone back out in the dark, to feel what that felt like too. It is like like looking at the Thanksgiving dishes when everyone has gone home.  One minute there is all this energy and admiration for you, then poof, the lights go out and that moment of deep connection with the audience is broken. It is gone as fast as the neon lights fade. Then you are eating a to go meal on a white towel on your hotel room bed.
I have been a comic for 27 years and in the last few years of I have heard another voice inside my head, or maybe it is in my heart? The need to touch and inspire people has become as great as wanting to hear the laughter. When you are a stand up comic you are a professional people pleaser. If comics tell you they don’t care if the audience liked them, they are lying. We are in the business of getting you to love us. Is there ever enough of that love? Is there enough to erase away whatever pain makes us stand up in front of strangers and work for approval and a paycheck?  We are as good as our last set, and until we can rectify a bad one, we carry that memory with with us until we have erased it with laughter, then we are redeemed once again. I have lots more to share than jokes, and really at my core, and perhaps why I told the jokes, is my story. A story of feeling different and out of place, but in the laughter I felt at home. The more I know and accept myself the less I need that approval.
Three years ago I made a conscious decision to start acting on my deepest dream, which was to not just do comedy, but also be an inspirational speaker. The first few times I spoke from my heart without punchlines, I had to really stay centered and know that just because they were not laughing did not mean they were not listening and FEELING. Jokes are immediate gratification, while touching people at their core is usually done in complete silence. I panicked the first few times, because I was so accustomed to the laughter and applause. I had to trade what I could not hear, for what I could FEEL. I could sense souls being moved, I could see the tears in their eyes, I could see the nods of acknowledgement and I knew in those moments of complete silence that I was making a difference. I knew  my story, my challenges, my authenticity was moving people. I knew that my honesty was allowing them to speak their truth too. This new connection was deep and gratifying.  I will always make people laugh, and comedy will always be a part of who I am, however, the sacred silence will now mean as much to me as the laughter.