360. Full Circle

This is a true story about revolution, bloodshed, and cakes.

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away:

China – 1300s.

The Ming people were planning a revolution. They were tired of being oppressed by the Mongolian rulers, and decided that they will overthrow them. They had their battle plans laid out, their strategies made, and weapons ready… But at the last moment, the Mongolian rulers issued a ban on all social gatherings. And so the Ming revolutionaries were left sitting at home, waiting for the signal to attack, which never came because they could not talk to each other.

The leaders of the revolution, Ming Taizu and Wencheng, decided that they should do something about this. They hatched a plan.

The first thing they did was to spread a rumor that a deadly plague had broken out. Whomever contracted the disease died immediately. (Not Ebola, but similar). The second thing they did was bake small cakes.

(if you want to save the world and you’re serious about it, go learn how to bake. I believe that one day, cakes will save the world)

They baked small cakes. And the third thing they did was tell everyone that to survive the plague, they must eat these small cakes. Because these small cakes will give them special powers and immunity towards the disease, keeping them alive.

They all ate the small cakes. The Mongolians at the cakes. The Ming people ate the cakes. Everyone had cake. To the Mongolians, they were just eating cakes that tasted a little funky – but you did what you had to do to stay alive. When the Ming revolutionaries cut open the cake and found the egg yolk suspended in the lotus paste filling, however, they immediately knew that it was a secret message to launch their attack on the night of the full moon.

When the full moon came on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, the Ming revolutionaries picked up their weapons, took to the streets, and like in Les Misérables they stormed the palace. But unlike Les Misérables, 1) they did not sing; and 2) instead of dying one by one by one, they actually succeeded in their plan. Like that, the Mongolian rulers were overthrown and the Ming dynasty was formed.

Some happy events happened after, followed by a series of very nasty events. But we won’t go there. If you tell a story long enough, it always ends in death and heartbreak. If you want to have a good ending, you have to know when to cut it short. Slap an ending on it. Capture that perfect, triumphant moment in a photograph made from words and leave them be, going on only if you will say “and they lived happily ever after”.

Tell your stories beyond death and heartbreak, and you’ll always find yourself back at the beginning, where we all begin again, as though we have never left.

And always remember: if you want to save the world, learn how to bake.

Because cakes will one day save the world.

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