Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about fate and destiny. (Maybe this is my mid-life crisis?) Do we have the ability to change fate? How much is our ‘destiny’ affected when we make different choices and follow what appears to be the best path? It can be overwhelming to consider. Being a Christian makes it easier, because you have faith that a higher power is in charge and everything happens for a reason. I used to have a framed copy of ‘Desiderata’ on my wall, the 1927 poem written by Max Ehrmann. ‘And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.’ I had this up where I could see it because the man I had expected to spend my life with suddenly died in a car accident. It’s hard to understand tragedies like that, but fortunately with the help of good friends, family, and faith, I was able to get through it. And then I immersed myself in a career which became my primary concern for the next 17 years.
So sometimes I wonder what path my life would have been on if that had not occurred. Would I be a full-time mom with kids heading to college soon? Possibly. But perhaps that was not my destiny.
Movie makers have always been fascinated by this subject. Can you change fate? Maybe that is why time travel is such a great vehicle in film and has made for some of the most compelling Star Trek episodes and movies. In ‘Back to the Future’ Marty accidentally messes up his parents’ first meeting, and if he doesn’t correct the situation he and his siblings will be ‘erased’ from the future. But as fate would have it, his involvement actually ends up improving their whole situation and makes his life in the future better.
So do we stumble into different choices by fate or do we seek them out? If you are unhappy with your life, do you just sit quietly and say, ‘This must be my destiny. The universe is unfolding as it should. It’s all happening for a reason.’ George McFly needed his son to come back in time and awaken him (with a little help from Van Halen) to his real destiny.
How do you know your ‘true destiny’ when you see it? Luke didn’t want to believe that Darth Vader was really his father (we were ALL in denial about that back in 1980) but that didn’t mean he had to turn evil and serve the Emperor.
There are many interesting quotes on the subject, and I found two which demonstrate opposite views. One from French fabulist (that means he wrote fables, not that he thought he was ‘fabulous’) Jean de La Fontaine, and the other from motivational speaker Tony Robbins:
A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. – Jean de La Fontaine
It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. – Tony Robbins
Of course the motivational speaker is going to tell you ‘your fate is up to you.’ The Frenchman is going embrace the inevitable and just enjoy his glass of wine.
Are you meeting or shaping your destiny?