Destiny is definitely one of those big questions and thus a great subject for art and literature. From Oedipus to Buffy and beyond, fictional characters have reflected that struggle for answers that everyone must undergo. Do we control our fates or is destiny something that is thrust upon us?
We don't come into this world a tabula rasa. We are extremely malleable. From our first breath, life writes upon us and shapes us, yet we are more than blobs waiting to be formed. Any mother can tell you that even newborns have personalities. Some wiggle, some cry, some stare at the world with eyes still misty of otherworlds. It may take a mother to tell the differences, but they're there. Beyond that, we are writ by our DNA. Science shows us everyday new and previously unimagined ways in which we have been hardwired to be a certain way. As babes lay bundled in their bassinets, learning that the world is more than the womb, so much of what they will become is already determined.
Then there is circumstance. Here in America, we proudly proclaim the dream that all men are created equal, yet even the most innocent of children can tell that's not true. The advantages of being rich are apparent to pre-schoolers. It doesn't take much longer to tell that being white, being male, being "connected", having a loving, nurturing family and thousands of other shades of favor convey an ease in daily living that is only really apparent to those who don't have it. That's one of the reasons why we love rags to riches stories and makeovers; breaking out beyond our original circumstances is hard.
And of course, there is Fate, the inescapable destiny. Do we really want to believe that we have no choice in the matter? I don't, and yet I do. I don't think that we walk through life in predetermined steps. I don't think it's inevitable that one person will be rich and famous and another poor and anonymous or any other combination of attributes. However, I've always felt a sense of mission, that there was something that I simply had to accomplish in this life. I've hoped it would involve my writing, yet I still don't know what it is. I just know that I haven't accomplished it yet. I may be deep in it now. We often can't see things until they're behind us.
On a message board I once read a post that compared destiny to weaving. As individuals, we choose whether our threads will lie flat or curl and kink, flow easily or break. Our choices are infinite, but we're still just one thread in a huge tapestry. I always like that image. I felt it appropriate for just about anyone, regardless of their spiritual beliefs. I've chosen to believe in a Great Weaver, my loving God whose hands have created and guide the pattern of the tapestry. It gives me strength, courage, peace and hope. It makes sense to me. Others don't see the world that way but most know they're only one small part of something vastly larger than just themselves.
Either way, we all make choices in how we live. We all determine what we will do with what we bring into this world and whether we will stay where we were originally placed. In this sense, we create our destiny and the picture around us as we live our lives. Personally, I need to feel the balance between being part of something greater and beyond my full comprehension and my own personal power to control some of how this life is done. In the moments when I am most aware of this happening, I think I come closest to the truest self, one that is full of awe, wonder, gratitude and secure in the rightness of the choices I have made.
This entry motivated by Sunday Scribblings.