- the entity or power believed by some to bring good or bad luck to people; luck; chance; fate: often personified
- [also pl.] what happens or is going to happen to one; one’s lot, good or bad, esp. one’s future lot
- good luck; success; prosperity
- a large quantity of money or possessions; wealth; riches
To say that you are ‘seeking your fortune’ many people would assume number 4 from Miriam’s wise words. This is the definition that Chris was referring to when he boarded a one-way flight to Hong Kong, and the start of the international bestselling book Eating Smoke.
‘Don’t do the drug Quiss!’ – a phrase Chris Thrall heard throughout his time in Hong Kong, but it was too late for the most part. Upon leaving the Royal Marines in 1992, Chris travelled to Hong Kong in seek of his fortune, though ultimately ended up in a state of psychosis addicted to Meth. Perhaps your initial thought is that the story ends here, and the fortune was not sought. Though I’d like to beg a question, if you are truly happy in the present, can you truly regret any part of your life which brought you to the moment you are in now? I don’t mean this in a condescending or even assuming way, it is one of those ‘life questions’ perhaps philosophical, something to ponder. A note from the offset, this is not a ‘book review’, as a bestselling author, you can read many, almost certainly better written ones on the internet so I shall steer clear of that. Back to my point, if you do continue to read Eating Smoke, which I genuinely recommend you do, the ending may lead you to believe as though the fortune was not sought. After speaking to Chris some twenty years on I found the reality open to a different interpretation.
My first impression of Chris was actually not at all much different from what I had expected. The book is his work, there is no doubt about that. Everything from the Bootneck terminology, to the significance of small traits in his personality which his brings across in moments almost pointlessly mentioned amongst the drama and chaos of the rest of the story. My second thought was that this man is not just content, he’s happy, and quite literally about to burst with love for his family.
Since leaving Hong Kong, Chris has achieved everything he set out to do, from adventures to publishing his books. Yes, the time scale is long, and writing a best-selling book is not something that happened shortly after leaving Hong Kong, but he achieved it. At the end of the book, the last sentence reads ‘I knew I would return to the Fragrant Harbour as soon as I could… I’ve never been back’. However, since the story was published, Chris returned for the book launch, this time to be treated as a VIP, and to see his work showcased on the shelves of Hong Kong’s biggest bookshops.
No, writing a book will not guarantee you have endless amounts of royalties filling your pockets until you die, but the achievement of writing a book, having it published, and people bloody loving it, surely that is fortune for some? The ending may suggest that Chris hadn’t achieved what he set out to in Hong Kong, but perhaps that is not where the story really ended, and it was his amazingly unique experience in this unbelievable city which was his fortune.
Ultimately it was Chris’s resilience both mentally and physically which not only kept him alive, but is what kept him persevering. Without doubt 99.9% of people would have brought a return flight back, perhaps as soon as they realised their initial business had taken a downward spiral, or at the very least after they had lost several jobs and realised they were addicted to one of the most dangerous drugs ever known (arguably a good story alone). Perseverance and resilience are undoubtedly characteristics that every Marine holds, and along with a deep love for Hong Kong, is what held Chris there pursuing his dream and eventually leading him to live the unique story and create the memories that he did.
Perhaps trying to tell this young Marine when he boarded his flight to London that he had not failed at finding his fortune in Hong Kong, but that it would just take many years to realise this, he would have laughed. Just because a plan may veer off course, or take an alternative route all together, it does not mean that you won’t achieve what you set out to, and the end may not be where it seems. To ask Chris now which fortune he would prefer, the love for his family and a career he adores, or money, I have no doubt which one he would choose.
To find out more about what Chris is up to these days, and his other books visit www.christhrall.com.
You can purchase Chris’s book here..