Great-grandma Katy slept upright in an upholstered chair instead of her bed each night. She had explained to me that lying down caused discomfort but sleeping upright allowed her to sleep soundly. Her habit came to mind early this morning when I was having difficulty remaining asleep. My sinuses were congested as a result of a dreaded summer cold. Along with the difficulty in breathing, my mouth had become sensitive to pain as well. After the third awakening, I finally shuffled to the living room to sit in my favorite chair and prop my feet onto an ottoman. Then I drifted into unconsciousness.
Am I fated to sleep in a chair like great-grandma Katy? Was genetics involved, or did my subconscious memories of her trigger this action? I rarely think about fate and destiny. However, when something unusual happens, such thoughts do. I’m skeptical of the concept of fate. To claim that people are the products of destiny seems a bit “off”. Meanwhile, circumstance seems to play a greater role in how we choose to create our lives. To box children’s and adults’ minds into preconceived notions as to whom they will become seems wrong-headed and unethical. The access or lack of access to money seems like more of a determining factor, but it doesn’t need to be. Also, people who are raised in more tradition-minded cultures find themselves in various scenarios that greatly shape their attitudes and behavior.
“Seek not to know what must not be revealed, for joy only flows where fate is most concealed. A busy person would find their sorrows much more; if future fortunes were known before!”–17th century English playwright and poet, John Dryden
In ancient times, people believed that the gods and goddesses wielded control over life on Earth. The gods were all powerful and merciless. Oftentimes they set traps for their human underlings. The aim of the deities was to subdue and manipulate people to behave in ways that amused and pleased the higher powers. For example, the Ancient Greeks believed in Moirae–aka the Fates. The three goddesses were incarnations of destiny. The Greeks believed that the Moirae orchestrated each person’s life and directed the consequences of that person’s actions according to the will of the council of the gods. The Moirae determined the lifespan and the share of misery and suffering for each person.
In the modern world, we have greater cultural choices and opportunities to help guide us as we make life choices. Our temperament and interests are more influential than our concepts of fate and destiny. We do have gut instincts and hunches that can serve to help us along the way. Most of us are free to choose our own roles in society and how effectively we carry them out. At times, it seems as if events and people cross our path to enable or disable our choices–some of us regard this as fate. In modern terms fate is a synonym for final results–ie. “She was fated for success.” All things considered, fate is a matter of choices, not chance. If we do not create our destiny then we will be subject to the whims of chance.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century journalist and writer, Stefan Zweig. “Fate is never too generous even to its favorites. Rarely do the gods grant a mortal more than one immortal deed.”