I have been thinking a bit about Destiny recently. I’m not sure why – some, or all, or none of the following:
- my long anticipated haircut
- my recent focus on little things
- that our birthdays and wedding anniversary are in March – all big numbers that make you wonder where your life went
- researching my new book Holistic Personal Finance
- accepting that I will be working at home and setting up an ergonomic workstation
- being distracted by mementos in the course of rearranging my library to accommodate my new desk
A while back I gave you some background about my version of string theory, and I mentioned the Fates/Moirai/Parcae and their role in the destiny of gods and mortals. Maybe with the right gifts (hair), you can escape your little destinies, but it’s tough to escape your full Destiny.
Those of us that come from Christian backgrounds tend to think of destiny as something that is fixed and immutable. I reckon this dates back to the belief that God’s will fixed your “station” or socio-economic place in life; you were a lord, priest or peasant according to God’s will and that was that. Above or below stairs you knew your place in life and didn’t aspire to be more or less than you were.
So exactly where does your destiny fit in all this?
When I was younger, somewhere around ten years old, I had a very intense friendship with the son of my parent’s good friends. At a time before either of us knew about sex, jobs and mortgages we both assumed that we would get married and live happily ever after. In that sort of glorious golden sunset happily ever after illustration you see in children’s fairy stories. Curious really given that sunsets are often symbolic of death as well as endings.
But my parents split up, and my mother and I moved away and between then and a few years later when he lost control of his car and died in the resulting crash I barely saw him. So that proto-destiny died in flames.
My parents, his parents, the two of us. All of those random things that come together to bring us where we are. That’s a pretty tangled ball of stringy destiny isn’t it? Glad I’m not a Fate. At least, I think I’m not.
A hundred years ago, (leaving aside the fact that both our parents emigrated from elsewhere) he may well have been my destiny. Social and economic pressures would have ensured my parents remained together in the same house until Dad died. Our station as peasants eking a living from the land makes it unlikely we would have left the village, and our distance from the “big” City coupled with the difficulty of reaching the village made it even less likely that newcomers would have arrived. Assuming we survived to adulthood, we would have lived our small lives in the same small village, not thinking that there was anything more that what we had.
It’s hard to imagine but as difficult as it would be, I believe that a small life has its compensations. Of course not having adequate pain relief or antibiotics are compelling downsides, but not knowing any better sort of entails not wanting better too.
Modern life is such a huge struggle with wanting things, it just doesn’t seem possible to be satisfied with little things when you can’t avoid all the bigger and better things that are out there. Even when you know that you are going to be disappointed when you get them home and take them out of the box.
Anyway, since my special childhood friend, there have been different boys, and different jobs each having the potential to be Destiny but all falling short one way or another. Probably because we always assume it is our Destiny to be happy – none of us want to think that our tragic miserable lives are Destined to serve as a warning to others. To go back to the Greeks, we want to be Theseus, not the poor Minotaur (though Theseus had his issues too). I can’t help feeling that knowing you are an augury would be some consolation for the tragedy of your life.
Have you thought much about what your destiny might be? Do you believe it’s inescapable or do you think you can somehow get in there and reprogram it? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss it.