I had an interesting discussion about fate with a friend the other day. She sees it as sort of a fixed point, and no matter what you do, what choices you make, sooner or later you are going to wind up at that point, wherever it may be. That kind of depresses me. If that’s the way it is, why even try? Why bother? Why have any ambition or goals? She, on the other hand, sees it as comforting. Kind of an everything-will-be-all-right scenario.
In contrast, I see fate as the result of a kind of a domino effect. Every decision that is made (and not even necessarily by you) alters your ultimate outcome. Fate, to me, isn’t a fixed point. It’s more like a spectrum of potential. And the reason none of us can predict the way our lives will turn out is that the dominoes aren’t stacked in a nice, simple, straight line. As in one of those complicated displays like the one in the video shown below, there are many branches of dominoes that are propelling you toward your final destination, and the only way to predict their outcome is through benefit of hindsight.
For example, one of my coworkers took this photograph back in 2011, and by doing so he changed my life. I didn’t know about this picture until just the other day, and yet what a profound impact it has had.
On that beautiful sunny day in 2011 he was in Seattle visiting his son, and he happened to see the Ballard Bridge open. He took that picture. Then one day while looking at that picture he thought, “What a cool place that would be to work.” He decided to look into it, and signed up for job notices with the City of Seattle.
Fast forward to 2014. My boyfriend dies unexpectedly and I’m not coping well with the fact that I have to drive past the place where he died every single day. In other words, another branch of dominoes began to fall. I had been wanting to get out of Jacksonville for about 30 years, but nothing up to this point had successfully propelled me past those city limits. At least not for any length of time.
Then suddenly one day this past summer those two branches of dominoes converged. I was sitting with my coworker at shift change and I was telling him how I wanted out of Florida, and he mentioned a job notice he had just gotten for the drawbridges in the city of Seattle. He suggested I apply, and I thought, “What have I got to lose?”
And here I am, on the other side of the country, sitting on a drawbridge that I didn’t even know existed a year ago. All because he took that photograph. Talk about fate! All the friends I make from here on out, all the places I live, all the sights I see from now until the very day I die will be due, in part, to the taking of that photograph. I ought to tattoo it on my butt.
So do I believe in fate? Yes I do. But I also think one can change one’s stars. The tricky thing is you can never know for sure what sort of dominoes you are about to send tumbling. That’s the very definition of life, isn’t it? That’s what makes it so exciting!