I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.
— Forrest Gump
What if we have it all wrong? What if instead of living our lives through our choices, through free will, our life is laid out for us? What if we don’t write the tale of our own life but instead it is already written for us? If no matter what we do we are going down a path that has already been determined? What if life chooses us rather than us choosing life?
Of course this is an age-old question but it is, and perhaps always will be, an important one that I often ponder. And that’s because there are times when it seems to be true. When I have a premonition of something yet to come that becomes real, it feels uncanny. Some call that a prescience (literally “before science”) or a psychic ability. I have always felt it was intuition combined with stout determination. The idea that everything that happens is determined by previous events seems counter to human nature, to our free will. But what if it is fate? That there is a fixed natural order to the universe of which I am just a part. One where human lives are just a single thread in the cosmos and actions in one life influence others.
The question I ask is how would it change my life, the decisions I make from day-to-day, if everything was predetermined? Would it change who I am? How I treat others? Would I just sit back and let it happen, knowing that nothing I do matters? Or would I live like I do now, working hard to make a difference, to be relevant to the planet? For I believe our destiny is defined by how we deal with the chance elements of our life. Moments where we actually have a choice that can influence our path. And over time those choices lead us to our destiny, which is then revealed to us.
Yet even in certain defeat, the courageous Trager secretly clung to the belief that life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences. Uh-uh. But rather, it’s a tapestry of events that culminate in an exquisite, sublime plan. … Ultimately Jonathan concluded that if we are to live life in harmony with the universe, we must all possess a powerful faith in what the ancients used to call “fatum”, what we currently refer to as destiny. — Dean Kansky, Serendipity
But perhaps it is more than that. Perhaps our destiny isn’t just about this life but about many lives, perhaps hundreds of lives. That when we die we come back and live again, and again, and again, until we reach that Buddah-like existence that allows us to finally merge with the cosmos, the one being, the all soul, the place from which we all came and will all return.
I don’t believe in luck. … I do believe we’ve known each other since forever, though. You know how? When the big bang happened, all the atoms in the universe, they were all smashed together into one little dot that exploded outward. So my atoms and your atoms were certainly together then, and, who knows, probably smashed together several times in the last 13.7 billion years. So my atoms have known your atoms and they’ve always known your atoms. My atoms have always loved your atoms. — Ian Gray, I Origins
But where does that leave us with our lives now? For today and tomorrow? As Maureen elegantly writes in “Destiny, chance, and choice in the motifs in Forrest Gump“:
John writes that the wind of the Spirit blows where it will and humans have no idea where it comes from or goes (3:8). Whether we be proponents of destiny or chance, we control neither. What we can choose is how we will respond when the feather lands on our shoes.
And that works for me. Because in the end, either way we live, our day-to-day decisions and how they influence our life are important because we aren’t here alone. We are all in this life together. So whether life chooses us or we choose life we still must live. We still wake up each day and go to sleep each night. Each day with new possibilities, new experiences, not knowing where we are heading. So all we need to do is make the best of it and live our life to the fullest.
Thanks to my daughter, Alexandra Tissot, for introducing me to I, Origins and Cloud Atlas.