It’s a bit crummy outside, so let’s take a brief intermission from adventure to talk tales of destiny and fate.
The concept of having your entire life predetermined by a higher entity never made much sense to me. If existence were fated, there’d be no purpose in playing this game. Decision making would be the pointless exercise of imagining irrelevant details to add a touch of a colour to a completed tome carved in stone.
People love commenting on the intentions of the Universe. When outcomes match expectation, results are clearly “meant to be.” When objectives end in failure, consolations of “it wasn’t meant to be” help ease the pain.
Both sentiments are worthless. We only consider them after events have transpired, in full witness of the existential results. Hindsight will always make the distinction between what was or wasn’t “meant” to be — it either happened or it didn’t. The technique is oft used by people to disconnect failure or absolve personal responsibility — a slightly different take on the equally worthless “it is what it is” statement. Yeah, no shit, what else could it be?
Most of this spin is ego based. Negative outcomes are declared “not meant to be,” shifting the blame of failure to unknown forces, making it more palatable to the individual to discount their lack of effort, persistence, or passion that composed their results.
A positive outcome is declared “meant to be,” which makes for good story telling — adding mystical support from kindly energies — but still encompasses underlying psychological fears of control or impotence, despite having the favour of the gods.
Let’s take a highly motivated individual for example. Maybe they want to restore a car, write a book, or drop a dozen pounds. After countless weeks or months of sweat, sacrifice, and single-minded drive, upon completion of their hard-fought goal, do they cry out, “Success! It was meant to be!”
Not so much.
Instead, they recognize that choices and actions have a direct impact on how quickly a dream can come to fruition, learning to put more faith in self-discipline than a handout from divinity.
The more likely scenario of the “meant to be” phrase happens in a local bar, with some dude buying drinks for the mysterious redhead he’s in love with, before getting shot down at the end of the night, muttering to his buddy, “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.” There seems to be a proportional relationship people make use of to connect minimal effort to the unfair whims of the universe.
Kidding aside, a formula indeed exists. Cause and effect are real. Invest your energies, and results will be had. Submit to indifference, and the Universe will bounce you around like an apathetic pinball. Though the quote “God helps those who help themselves” doesn’t actually appear in the Bible, it’s a far better strategy to effect change than holing yourself up in your dingy apartment to pray 16 hours a day for cosmic redemption.
You can mold the world around you anyway you see fit, for good or evil, and your sustained actions will generate results. Psychopaths and predators know this as well as saints and saviours. There’s probably a pedophile in front of his computer snapping one off right now to a picture of Gary Coleman, thanking God for a lucky Google search that was definitely “meant to be.”
Let’s dig a little deeper into reasons for faith in fate.
There have been many times in my life when a highly improbable circumstance or chain of events has directly influenced my decision making process. Some cues have been subtle, others, full-blown smacks upside the head, giving me pause to re-think which path of the forked road I might choose to follow.
Many “spiritual” people treat these nudges as evidence of destiny, and an excuse to absolve themselves from responsibility. “I do whatever my higher self says,” or “God wants me to learn more about poverty,” bullshit like that.
But just because you stumbled upon a celestial note saying “Turn left not right if you want to avoid falling into the chasm of despair,” doesn’t mean the responsibility of choice ceases to be exclusively yours.
Like a mother lovingly guiding a child, ethereal influences are not orders to be followed, there are suggestions from a grander and more exprienced perspective. But keep in mind that no matter how much expertise an individual has in any field, it doesn’t make them infallible to mistakes. If I wanted to learn brick-laying from a guy who’s been at it 50 years, I would almost definitely keep my mouth shut and follow whatever instructions and advice he might impart. But that’s not reason to shut my brain down as well, to ignore considerations of more efficient ways of doing things, or asking questions when recommended measurements or protocol don’t seem correct. The most valuable teacher out there is one who admits to forever being a student.
So though you may believe in a guardian angel watching your back and providing guidance, it doesn’t mean you’re a puppet required to dance on its strings of suggestion. Even if they’re right 99 percent of the time on the best path to follow, it’s still on you to exercise free will to walk the roads before you. Who’s to say they know for certain the quickest turns to reach the cheese? And maybe you don’t want cheese anymore, maybe you’re happier meeting other rats in the maze and shooting the shit about the newest running-wheel on the market. Maybe you’re just happy to wander, with no specific purpose in mind. That’s what free will is all about.
There’s far more going on in this world than our pitiful 5 senses can measure. I’m in no way opposed to considering unseen entities giving us nudges in directions that foster our growth and expansion, but if you’re going to acknowledge the influence of positive guides, then by default you have to accept antithetical forces. Pranksters and assholes are just as likely to be in disembodied form as angels. For all the bullshit I’ve read from people “channeling” advanced souls, I pretty sure many a naive and trusting human has been taken for a ride just for shits and giggles by a non-corporal shithead.
The Universe is more than random chance, blind luck, or a script pre-written by God. We are active players who can manipulate our personal destinies through thought, action, unbridled creativity, and burning desire.
This writing was inspired by recent events I will cover shortly in a new Adventure Blog post, linked here, but let me finish by saying this…
We are more than pawns in the great game of life. We are more than footnotes of a story written long ago. We are the colourful characters building the dramas in an epic tale that has no end. We are co-creators of an always expanding Universe, not resigned to wear a singular mask for the play’s duration. We can take the sad face off and put on the happy one whenever we choose. Sometimes we’ll be the dragon, other times the knight, but the director of this play isn’t hellbent on controlling the story. He’s recognized the value and fun of unexpected improv, and encourages whacky, dynamic input to broaden the stage’s current horizon. The Grand Director is looking on with as much eager anticipation as the actors to witness the tale’s newest twists.
On that note, I see the sun poking her head out, marking the end of intermission. Time to head back to the theatre to see what unfolds next act.
Weirdo enters stage left…