#12

Per fume

Unquantifiable fortune

2022•July•23

fortune bottle card

The word perfume, from the latin per fume, meaning "through smoke," can become our metaphor again, since many of the categories society signals as fortunate are like smoke we need to get through to understand the unquantifiable that makes us fortunate.

Fortune, according to society, can depend on where you were born, where you reside, intergenerational wealth, genetics, earnings, savings, investments, a diploma from a select school, excelling at your job, and many other norms on gender, race, sexual orientation, career, looks, religion, political affiliation, popularity...

If you tick all the right boxes, are you fortunate?
What if you don't? Are you still fortunate?


We may know people who check all the right boxes, but if you look into their lives, it feels as if they've created an unbalanced mixture of notes to their unique parfum.

They may feel unhappy, unfulfilled, or empty in a significant way, and they may have felt that for a long time. Perhaps they seek control and perfection, instead of embracing and appreciating the rawness and serendipity in life. Perhaps their time is overspent fitting in and underspent living and loving.

Perhaps they are afraid of feeling like outcasts and that diminishes their essence. Perhaps their lives keep on accumulating debt to try to keep up with what is considered fortunate.

Perhaps they're constantly feeling dragged into a myriad of notifications flashing on their screens, and they have gotten used to reacting to them and measuring their self-worth from them.

Perhaps their time is lost to the mundane, the popular, the urgent, the profitable, etcetera, at the expense of something meaningful like health or family.

Likewise, you may know people who do not check any of the right boxes, and perhaps they are fortunate in many other ways we cannot measure.

They may have a strong and defined sense of purpose, from years of trial and error. Perhaps they can find courage when facing the multitude of challenges and barriers life presents.

Perhaps they have the strength to feel vulnerable but at the same time not feel victims of their circumstances. They may know the power of non-violent communication and of creating a supportive healthy environment.

They may consciously step outside their bubble to understand how the world is unfair or how it lacks in judging substance. Perhaps they have grown a level of empathy guiding them to be kind and fair to others, because they understand human struggles, but also human strengths.

Self-confidence balanced with humility and gratitude may be a constant in their lives, not because it is easy, but because they have learned the importance of having a voice and giving something back to life, even when it takes away.

Perhaps they are the kind of people who can make you smile when you're going through a rough time, and only they have noticed what you're going through.

Perhaps their time is not lost, it is mindfully placed with the heart as a compass, and the mind as a foundation.

Perhaps they love to learn, and understand that mistakes are intertwined with learning. Unlikely to seek perfection, perhaps they are curious about life, because sometimes, in the oddest of moments, we can discover love, hope, meaning, deep joy...

Each one of us holds an invisible unquantifiable strength. It is up to each one of us to decide whether to try to fit into unsuitable boxes and perfect bottles, or to remove the smoke and reach for the magic within. Our fortune depends on how we choose to live from the inside out.

Tomorrow...empowering tools.