Fate vs Free Will

Throughout history numerous wars have been waged between opposing forces. Dark and light. Good and Evil. Nature and Nurture. Life and death. Star Trek and Star Wars, Marvel and DC… TP rolled over the top or under. (Only savages prefer the latter.)

marvel vs deathstrokeOpposite ends of spectrums that often are viewed in our tiny human brains as opposing sides of a coin. The polar ends of a hard line. The divisiveness of the universe that plays out in a constant cosmic game of tug-o-war. One such spectrum is the dichotomy between Fate (Destiny if you will) and Free Will (Choice).

Do our choices determine the path of our lives, or are our “choices” merely preconceived steps towards a destination we’re meant to arrive at? Does the idea of free-will make us feel as though we have more power in our lives? Or does the idea of Destiny free us of the responsibility of how our lives pan out?

I’m honestly asking, because I don’t know the answer.

When I was young, I believed in fate. Because fate is more romantic, and epic, and dramatic. It made me feel like I was on the path to something amazing. It made me feel that one day I’d fall into the life that had been preordained and made especially for me. That it would all work out, because it was foreseen by some great hand of Destiny.

Then I grew up.

And I started to realize that every single choice I was making was branching me off in an ever complicated tree of life. Going to a party or not, where I may or may not talk to someone who would, unbeknownst to me, cause waves of change in my everyday life.

red trees
Photo by nien tran on Pexels.com

Stepping into a dojo on a trial basis, no intention of becoming involved. Even going so far as recognizing that one heated moment in a shower could lead to a phenomenal, empathetic, intelligent beautiful being who shares my house and riles my bassets up with her french horn practice.

Every single moment I was living, I was making choices and those choices made my path. There was no destiny, only the narrowing of options as I peeled away the possibilities with strokes of priority peppered with chance.

But some days, some cloudy Wednesday mornings, I swing back… back to the idea that maybe… maybe every choice I’ve made, in this ‘long and scattering set of tracks’ has led me exactly where I’m supposed to be.

blur bubbles clear close up
Photo by Ruatsanga Hmar on Pexels.com

And I like feeling that way, not because I feel it relieves me of responsibility, or that everything will work out to be something decided long ago, but because it helps me to know that every pain, every ill, every challenge and heartbreak I’ve suffered has built the scar tissue I needed to be where I am and to be the person I am.

Did the universe know I’d be this person? Did the universe need this person? Am I meant to be here for the fate of someone else, to be their lesson, their ill, their challenge. . . their heart break? Or am I here for something better? To be the hand in the darkness. To be the mender. To be the balm for broken hearts, and the gentle touch after life’s severity? I suppose that, too, is a choice.

Fate or Free Will?

I’m not sure it really matters. Except that you can’t let your life be decided for you. And if you wait around for your destiny to find you, it might not be the one you expect or want. Sometimes, in that glimmer of knowing what you’d like to see your life manifest as, you must weave through the murky waters and make the choices that lead you to the end you want.

Life’s not much more than a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. There are about fifty ways to kill yourself prematurely, and only a few paths lead to success, but most importantly, it ends no matter what choices you make along the way.

So make the choices that bring you happiness, that bring you beauty. Make the choices that fill your cup.

Back in The Saddle

Ever get side tracked?

Waylaid?

Distracted?

Veered off of course; far outside of the navigational beacons?

Maybe an unanticipated wind hit you on the 45 and you didn’t crab enough into it. Maybe you paused to look to the side and the wheel shifted with the direction of your gaze. By the time you’ve roused yourself into present moment awareness, you’re fifty knots south of course or three feet deep in a burrow ditch, and it’s too late for small corrections.

I’d like to take a moment and share a problem that I think many of us struggle with in our over-packed, over-scheduled lives. Distraction. A falling off of our horse. A monumental sidetrack.

I’ve spoken before about being true to your path and not straying from your destiny and the things you love. But life has a quirky way of making us look away. We all veer. We all must. Life is not a straight-line stretching out into infinity. It’s a curvy, succulent dance, filled with random peculiarities and delicious distractions. Honestly, we’re all really just one absent-minded neuron away from dog-and-squirrel level diversion.

Let me tell you a story. I’ll keep it brief.

Once upon a time a writer needed a break from her head. So overpacked and under inspired were her thoughts that she looked outside of her normal realm of expertise for a hobby that would balance her mind and body. She found something that she loved. She dabbled. She accelerated; one might say she began to excel.

The problem with acceleration and the momentum associated with skyrocketing off on a new and less-resistance riddle path is that in no time at all, you’ve soared hell-and-far from your home, and it becomes increasingly hard to slow your trajectory down. By the time this writer looked up and realized what had happened, she was soaring across the cosmos, her original pursuits long behind her. Worse, she realized she was tied into the obligations of a hobby that had become something different.

Something more akin to work.

She’d thrown her effort, her energy, her time and body in so wholeheartedly that nothing was left for her writing. She became tired; uninspired. The sidetrack, the hobby, had taken over. The horse dumped her in the ditch.

Awareness came as her child lay battling the flu on the couch next to her, with nowhere else she COULD be. She slowed down enough to read her writing group’s newsletter; something she hadn’t “had time for” in months. Because she was too engulfed in the everyday (some days every hour) demands of her ‘hobby’.

Glancing over the call for submissions she thought, “Wow, I remember when I used to submit. I just don’t have time for it. Wish I did.” (What did daddy alway say? If wishes were fishes, we’d all stink?)

The child snorted in the silent house and roused her into awareness of the present. To remind her that she was not truly bound to anything except that which she loves. And if she does not love it any more, the universe says (perhaps even demands) it’s okay to let it go. So our writer got a pencil and she numbered off ten promising leads. She reconnected the creative powerhouse in her brain, adjusted her heading, checked the map and 180’d her ship. She put a foot in the stirrup and hoisted her ass back into the saddle.

Now, after months of excuses and “too busy”, and “just until this next benchmark is met”, she’s at her laptop. Writing. And she doesn’t care if its good, or if it fits guidelines, or if it will be picked apart by whoever may be watching. Because she’s writing. Again. Like the first time.

My hobby took over. It sort of ransacked my life. I resisted and succumb, I got angry for submitting and resisted more. I felt guilty because I enjoy it still. I got mad for feeling guilty. Like a cat bouncing on the end of the leash, frantic to get away, feeling trapped and powerless against the ties, I forgot that I’ve got opposable thumbs, brains in my head, feet in my shoes. I can steer myself wherever I choose.

I’m choosing to turn back to the place I call home. To the page. To the work and the characters, the words and worlds and delicious dance of ideas and thought. Will I visit the other place again? Of course! Balance is balance. And I’ve learned too much to cast it aside completely. I’ll still dabble.

But it isn’t my home. It isn’t my story.

Some moments it feels like a long way back, and remembering my brain and fostering creativity will take some priming of the neural pumps. But even the longest journey starts with a single submission.

 

saddle2

Finding The Path

Human lives are constantly being pulled in different directions and subjected to demands from outside forces. Some of them we want to go along with; some we’re forced to ride along beside. The older we are the more paths we’ve walked, lost, found ourselves on, resisted to leave, and feared to lose.

Of late, I’ve found myself being pulled off of my desired path by well-meaning but (for lack of better word) pushy people. They are people in my life that I respect and admire. We are compatriots in a common goal and therefore, we walk beside each other on parallel paths. But sometimes their strong personalities engage in manipulative tactics to pull me over with them on their path.

It is, in part, my own fault. I’m a people pleaser. I want to make people happy, often at the expense of myself. After all, what greater gift can I give than to be a benefit to another?

But now, after months of stress-related, psychosomatic issues, I’m realizing how detrimental this pattern can be. When I tie my worth around my ability to be useful and giving to others, I let myself be pulled along by people who insist that their path is the right and best path for me in order to feel valuable.

I let myself believe that they know me better than I do, that perhaps, they could be right. Their path seems like a good one. It’s not a bad path. It has interesting things to see along the way, it’s headed to different and new places, it has challenges and triumphs…it’s a decent path. Nothing is acutely wrong with the path.

Except it’s not mine.

It’s theirs.

I am slowly learning that there is no goodness in putting yourself second time, and time, and time again. There is no goodness in letting someone lead you away from your dream and your path. It twists your gut, it drops your mind into dark places, until all you can do is stare at your feet and feel the heavy weight of someone else’s wants and expectations breaking you down into the ground with every step as you cast longing glances back at the sunshine dappled trail you once took to so excitedly.

So how can I stop, mid stride on the dusty path, let go of the expectations and wants of others, and get back on my path? How do I love myself enough to know that I am worth the leaving?

Every decision, no matter how coerced, is a lesson, not necessarily a mistake. And what I’ve committed to for the wrong reasons, I don’t have to continue with. I tried another path. I tried to please others. I did what I thought life wanted from me. I’ve learned. I gained education along the path, methods, techniques, and experiences but most importantly–I’m learning about Me. Learning about oneself is never a mistake.

Sometimes the most important thing we can learn about ourselves is what we don’t want, what we will not endure, what we will not take, and what we will not put up with. That is how we grow strong.

So the next time you are on your path, where you should be, and someone takes your hand and says, “Hey, come check out my path over here!” you can look at it, and understand that your priorities and dreams are important enough to stay on course and take your hand back with a firm no thanks.

Your dreams are important, more than anyone who isn’t wearing your shoes will ever understand. You don’t have to justify their worth to anyone else. Your goals along life’s journey are enough.  Your path is well-suited and enough. You are enough.

I’d love to hear any stories or comments you may have about how you’ve chased your own dreams and what it has brought you in terms of fulfillment and/or hardship.

Until next time, stay on your path.