After my Good Decisions post I had a discussion with friends about fate and things that are out of our control. Their argument was that fate must exist because the course of your life is not decided by choice alone. For example you don’t meet people completely through your own decisions. You meet them because you’re both available and that is not completely in your control. While they argue that this proves that fate exists, I prefer to think it is chance. The paths we are given to choose from are frequently there by chance, but we make the choice. I do not believe that life is just a challenging set of stairs to climb.
I’m going to define a few terms before I write more.
Fate: 1. something that unavoidably befalls a person. 2. that which is inevitably predetermined; destiny
Destiny: 1. something that is to happen or has happened to a particular person or thing. 2. the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events
Luck: 1. the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person’s life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities: 2. a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person:
Fortune: (1 and 2 deal with a large sum of money) 3. chance; luck 4. things that happen or are to happen to a person in his or her life.
I do believe there are some things that are inevitable and that in general terms fate and destiny exist. For example, we are all headed toward the same ultimate fate… death. But I don’t believe the type of death or life we will live is inevitable or predetermined. The things that some would assign to fate I assign to chance/fortune. Chance plays a part in our lives. Sometimes chance is kind and other times it is not. The problem for some is that chance has no purpose, no reason and people prefer to believe that things happen for a reason. I prefer to think we, each of us, has the ability to define our lives by working with chance when it is kind and against it when it is not. Free will and the ability to choose is all the reason I need for why things are the way they are.
To get back to the example of meeting people… meeting a compatible person or even the perfect person is rarely completely a choice nor do I consider it to be fate or destiny. I consider it to be mostly luck or fortune! Of course if you aren’t doing anything to give yourself a chance to meet new people, like being active in the community, trying online dating (POF.com), or using sites like meetup.com to meet new people, then you aren’t giving luck/fortune the opportunity to work for you. Even after you’ve had the good fortune to meet the perfect person for you, what happens is not completely up to you. Obviously they have an equal say in the outcome. When you add up the chance/luck, the choices of others, and even the complex emotions that an individual feels in these situations, it is often easier to believe our lives and who we spend them with is determined by fate. I don’t take the easy way out on this, I believe our choices matter. Some of the choices were made long before you met and these determine your situation and theirs. Some of the choices weren’t even made by either of you. For example, maybe someone else broke up with them and now they are available; however, that probably fits more in the luck/chance side of the equation. Some people live their lives under the premise that if it doesn’t work out, “it wasn’t meant to be”? I don’t believe in “meant to be” or “not meant to be”. I believe there are several reasons things don’t work out and I don’t believe it was your destiny. Maybe you weren’t really right for each other, or at least one of you wasn’t right for the other. Possibly the situation wasn’t right and that may be because of bad fortune, or more likely past decisions.
When there is a bad outcome it can be easier to just accept that as fate, and move on. Put the pain behind you, there was nothing you could do. On the surface people who can do this appear to be happier. But I believe in the long run, assigning our lives to fate does not make us happier. I believe that people who do that are leaving their lives to chance and chance has no reason. By believing fortune alone was responsible for the bad outcome, they miss the opportunity to learn from mistakes they have made. They miss the opportunity to know the other people involved, and the world around them in a much deeper way. If you take the time to understand why things happen you are better able to shape your future. You’re better informed when you choose a path to follow, and you are more likely to make good decisions.
Good decisions alone do not decide what path your life will take. The world around you is moving and changing while you’re making those decisions and other people are making choices that affect you. The uncertainty caused by life’s complexity does not mean that our destiny is determined by fate. Most importantly, this uncertainty does not remove the importance of making good decisions.