Friday, December 10, 2010

What Do I Know About Fate?

The topic I chose for F is fate. I had spent a few days brainstorming ideas and narrowed down my selection to this as well as fear, fortune and ferocity. On a whim, I chose fate. I thought it would was appropriate.

I started to examine the topic and free-write about it in the mornings. Fate is what it's called when Cinderella marries prince charming, right? I don't want to insult you with assuming that in real life fate works this simply. Reality is a network of complexities and inter-connected causes that interact behind the scene to create something new. I also realized that fate is like the devil. You may get what you want but not how you want it. If you sell your soul to the devil to get out of jail, he might just abandon you on top of a desolate mountain at let you perish, but nevertheless he followed the contract to the T.

I came to realize that I don't know much about fate. My experience is so limited that I can hardly begin to offer an answer. I do know several trends that have appeared throughout my life. One, which I will examine ni this essay, is if you take a step forward, you are one step further down the road than you were before. Now this may not seem like much, but indulge me.

I will be running my second half marathon on Sunday - the Portland Holiday Half. I've been training for several months, and I've been putting one foot in front of the other for over 200 miles in preparation for this race. Many days, I don't want to go out. It's raining or cold and I would rather stay inside. But, I didn't. I got out there five days a week and put one foot in front of the other because you can't run 13 miles in one step or even in a leap. Only by a series of connected steps forward, can I attempt to accomplish it.

Sometimes when I was running I would see the half-way point landmark a distance off and this cute little thought would pop into my head saying "You'll never get there." But I did. I don't really understand how my body is able to travel through space from one place to the other - it is really quite miraculous - but it has repeatedly come through and now I'm back in my apartment at the computer.

So is it my fate to run this half marathon? I can't answer with a simple 'yes' or 'no' but I do know that if I didn't keep taking those steps, I wouldn't be where I am today.

Running is a good metaphor for fate. Both are completely reliant on the movement of time and on a beginning and an end. There is a start to the race and a finish and at least in popular opinion, there is a point at which one's fate is realized, the finish. Some obstacles are unchangeable for the runner like the weather and the pavement's condition, other things the runner has control over. The runner can decide how he will take that next step. Will he be aware of his posture or will he take the step grudgingly slumped forward. He can also choose to take it or just give up and crawl home. Although someone can't change all the circumstances in their life, they can play an extremely important role in their fate by taking little steps every day in their desired direction. This works because of the simple law of cause and effect or karma.

When you decide to take action, no matter how small it is, you are influencing the world. You are creating a future and sculpting your life although you will not know how the final end product will turn out. Fate is a process and not an end. There cannot be one fate that will stop our lives from progressing once it is realized like a "happily ever-after" ending. Although fate often seems like the end of the line, how can it be? Life is a series of present moments that fit seamlessly together like the words on a page or the steps in a half marathon.

Henry David Thoreau wrote: "What a man thinks of himself, that is what determines, or rather indicates, his fate." Do we choose to be a victim of outside circumstance and relinquish the power of our fate or can we be the master of the only thing that we every really have which is our autonomy in the present moment. Like a surfer trying to catch a wave, we must either paddle forward and catch it or let the wave crash and pull us along as dead weight. If we can take a step now, we can do it again and again and each time our destination becomes more visable. And only through a series of steps can we realize any fate.

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