August 2014 – The Feng Shui Hoax

Posted on 29 July 2014


About two weeks ago, I received an interesting email from a friend.  It indicated that something was to occur this August that happens only once every 823 years: the phenomena of having five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays in one month.  Allegedly based on the ancient Chinese art and science known as Feng Shui, this rare occurrence also known as “Silver Pockets” or “Money Bags” was to be a harbinger of wealth, a Chinese fortune cookie if you will, if only I passed along this chain email to notify family and friends who might then fill the inboxes of their families and friends.


Not of Chinese ancestry but with the determination of a bloodhound, I decided to learn more about Feng Shui.  I began by going to the repository of the wisdom of the ages, Google.  Entering the words into Google Translate, I was dismayed to discover that no English translation for those words was available. I expected to see “Silver Pockets.”  When I did not, I realized that those Chinese words could mean almost anything and began to doubt the credibility of the email I received.


Then a strange, almost mystical thing happened.  As I was composing this article, my neighbor, who works for a Chinese doctor, paid me a visit.  I told her what I was doing, and she asked me what words I was trying to translate.  I responded, “Feng Shui,” whereupon she informed me (or so I heard) that the Chinese word “Feng” translates to the English word “Win” and “Shui” to “Water.”  This revelation put a completely different spin on the nature of the good fortune promised as a result of my spamming friends and family with the news of my soon-to-be good fortune.


On further investigation, I found that the translation provided by my neighbor was either incorrect or, more likely, misinterpreted by me due to my poor hearing.  Continued searching revealed that the word “Feng” translated to “Wind,” putting a damper on whatever it was that I would be “winning” by sending out that lucky email.


Having finally learned the meaning of the Chinese practice, I now understood that the art of Feng Shui was in some sense rooted in the two elements of wind and water as the basis of living a more organized, happier, less stressful life.  I also know understood that the email I received was just another example of the urban legends that the ease of email communication has spawned.  Five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays in a 31-day month, I discovered through the power of Google, is not all that uncommon.


Yet, the email did stimulate my curiosity about the art and science of Feng Shui, a manifestation of which is found in the organization of the furnishings and decor of homes to optimize the flow of energy throughout.  To further harmonize the occupants with their surroundings, adequate lighting is required as is as much sunlight as possible.  Using the same principles, other aspects of one’s life can be organized to promote a happier lifestyle.  You can even utilize principles of Feng Shui in selecting a mate who will be your lifelong soulmate.  This, of course, is not to be confused with the Kama Sutra of Indian origin.


The ancient custom also employs dragons as powerful cures and symbols of virility, wealth, and abundance when placed in the appropriate locations in one’s home.  Perhaps, with proper dragon placement, good fortune may smile upon you this August regardless the bogus information presented in the email.


As I pondered the many perceived positives associated with Feng Shui, I wondered what organizing principles other cultures employed to provide similar benefits to their members.  This brought to mind the land of my ancestry, Italy.  The motherland of da Vinci, Gallileo, and Michelangelo, surely Italy must have some old world customs as beneficial to Italians as Feng Shui has been to natives of China.


As I considered the many significant contributions that the Italian culture has made to the development of Western civilization, I remembered an Italian phrase that I learned in my youth and have heard many times during my 87 years of life.  And, the more I considered it, the more certain I became that these words, much like Feng Shui, would enable one to direct his energies and enhance his life.


The phrase of which I thought was “Fa in culo” (phonetically, “fong coolo”).  Note that both the Chinese and Italian phrases begin with an “F.”  That “F” along with spaghetti ends the things that the Chinese and the Italians hold in common.  While Feng Shui translates as “Wind and Water,” Fa in culo translates as “up your ass.”


So, to all you folks who received the same email as I and who are awaiting wealth as a result, I advise patience.  Perhaps, you can hasten your good fortune by playing the lottery or visiting a casino.  Should you lose your bankroll, you may be tempted to utter a phrase such as “Feng Shui.”  A more appropriate response, however, would be “fong coolo.”

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