On the table in front of me there's a tiny slip of paper. On it are printed the words "Your life will be happy and peaceful." Underneath there's something in Chinese script. For all I know, it could be saying "Your mother sells whelks in Hull."
I think I'll go with the English language version. Fortune cookie messages aren't to be ignored, especially when they're broadly optimistic. A little positivity shouldn't go amiss. And if there's the right day to be writing that last sentence, I think it's today.
The fortune cookie came from the Chinese takeaway we had at Brother No.1's house last night, after spending some time playing with my niece, who is now walking and officially Into Everything. She also knows how to say "apple". Nothing else, just "apple". She'll either be a nutritionist or a fan of over-priced but incredibly-attractive computer equipment when she's older.
Just to bring the tone down a little for those of you out there with your kids. Your child is not as cute as my niece. Don't worry. Simply accept it, move on and learn to live with this inalienable fact.
So why am I obsessing over a fortune cookie message? Over the last few days there had been a few setbacks. I'd been busy. The regular worries were getting more, well, regular. And, for that matter, worrisome. I'd been getting a little grumpy. Down in the dumps. The black dog didn't exactly have its paws on my shoulders, but I could hear it snuffling about in the leaves outside. I'd been thinking it wasn't worth bothering going back to writing class when it started once more this week. When all's said and done, what would be the point?
The point is this. "Happy and peaceful" doesn't come about if you sit and wait. Happiness is rarely an accident. Our American cousins even go in pursuit of it, which I always used to think was a little overly-aggressive, but I suppose as long as humane traps are involved, I'm relaxed.
Go and spend some time with a 15-month-old. Accept some help from friends. When the email from your writing tutor comes through, reply to it (only don't do three re-writes like I did). Take some time out. Seek out comfort. Get your house filled with the smell of baking bread and spiced curry lentil soup. Jump up and kiss your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/family pet. When they ask what that was for, say, "Nothing. Now be careful." Do things that scare you. Sign up for that community choir your friend the singing teacher wants to set up. Just write random rubbish on the Internet if that floats your boat.
You may find, turning around, that things were never that bad in the first place. And that fortune cookies sometimes speak a lot of common sense.