Delight in a moment of mystery: Fortune cookies for a strategic 2012

The beginning of a new year is a symbolic time for many people.

In the West, this is a rare occasion when our highly commanding society actually dictates very little. When publicity and advertising and cultural mythology are not telling us what to feel, to want, or to do.

Depending on where we live in the world, as the clock strikes twelve midnight, there are different customs that many of us follow, but the deeper meaning of this moment is up to every individual to define or embrace for themselves.

In my adopted region of Catalonia, populated by large clock towers throughout every town and village, we eat a grape with each dong of the midnight hour. Hastily shoving one grape per second into our smiling open mouths under our laughing eyes, and secretly wondering, every year, if we will choke upon reaching the twelfth grape, the ritual thereby becoming our farewell to the world instead of our entry into a new year. At the end, we don’t choke, we never do, though the risk is exciting and palpable.

So we enter the new year, alone or in the company of others, chewing, swallowing, and full of desire. A year marked by the cyclical 12-month calendar that structures the parcels of time for most of the people on the planet. 

What makes this moment of our calendar special or even magical is the symbolism and ritual we infuse into it.

The human species is a tribe of ritual makers. From ancient to modern times, people have created rituals; it could very well be a part of our highly disputed natural essence. Whether it can be proven scientifically, or if the “ritual gene” is ever identified and named, inside every one of us is the innate understanding and respect for the mystery and power of ritual. We desire it. We need it to express deeper aspects of our being, and to honor our vulnerability and elusive connection to a larger universe—no matter how rational our daily lives and discourses are.

There is a part of our life that simply cannot be explained, cannot be categorized and cannot be predicted. There is a call to abandon the contours of the rational, if only for brief mysterious moments, to then settle down again within the comfort of logic, perhaps with a new message or a new insight.

It is the beauty of this mystery which during the most difficult times, during the most confusing or painful moments of our lives, may be the element that keeps us going, that helps us to heal, and that shows us how to draw from our well of human understanding. It helps turn the unknown into hope; it whispers to our soul that we will not stay in this difficult time forever. It reshapes confusion into curiosity. Ritual is a way to honor the mystery of life that moves around us, with us and through us. It is as simple and inexplicable as that.

Now, for a strategist—a rational, cause-and-effect type of girl such as myself—to be talking like this to a group of people who look to her for sound counsel and inspiration for their project development, might be risky. Or even wildly imprudent.

Or, it might simply be a part of the folds and turns of our complex and individual stories. Of my own story. None of us are just one thing, just one characteristic, just one way of seeing, talking or acting.

We are all walking poems.

We are all part mystery.

This part of us sometimes looks to rituals and oracles and to the wisdom of chance to guide us, to delight our senses, to stimulate our thinking. To spark our own understanding for what we should do next, how to solve a problem, or mark a path, or inspire a new way of seeing.

The Strategy Blog has chosen as its ritual for entering the new year of 2012, the fortune cookie, which originated in 19th century Japan.

We have prepared a new batch of these cookies with carefully crafted messages in each of them; and one of those messages is meant just for you.

Inside one of the four cookies below, you will discover an idea that, if understood and used wisely, will help guide you through this year to strategic and fruitful project development.

All you need to do is:

Take a moment to contemplate all four numbers and, when you are ready, choose one, click on the number (not on the cookie) to open and read what’s inside.

After you read your fortune, if you feel inspired and would like to open another, go ahead—there is strategic wisdom to be found in them all. But remember, the first one you open is the message meant especially for you.

(Happy 2012 dear readers, it is through you that these words come to life. For that, I thank you.)

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