December 1, 2023
There has always been an ongoing battle in the back of my mind about whether life is a result of our choices or simply a play of fate. If everything is already pre destined and designed for us, why do we spend so much time planning every next move? And if everything depends on the choices we make, then why do we often feel like we are losing control?
Destiny is not some mythical energy that we only read about in books, it's something that even the staunchest realist must have experienced at some point. It is hard to accept destiny as a facet of truth owing to its vague nature and the lack of empirical evidence to support it, but everyone knows exactly what it feels like to not have things go their way or to make all the right, logical choices and still end up with an unforeseen outcome. Even the deniers of destiny don't deny this.
Picture an aspiring artist, having poured their heart and soul into beautifully crafted paintings, only to have their grand debut exhibition cancelled due to an unforeseen venue closure or a weather hiccup. While on one hand, carefully laid out plans can sometimes go awry, sometimes, the most unexpected moments can lead to life-altering opportunities. For instance, a simple decision to attend a social gathering could spark a connection that opens doors to new ventures. Those who believe in destiny may find comfort in the idea that there is a purpose to everything and that their path is already set. To some this may be a manifestation of God’s will, to others it may simply be fate.
This process of creating creative being, that is life, is more than just destiny though. Our choices are a major determinant in this process. Of course, there is an unseen force of fate that is to be factored in, but that does not exempt us from the responsibility and accountability that comes with making choices. Chalking up every mistake we make to destiny is not fair. There has to be accountability on our part when we make choices that are objectively wrong. While it is true that we are destined to make some choices, this claim cannot be used to justify problematic behaviour and harmful actions.
Existential philosophers such as John Paul Sartre, champion the concept of radical freedom and the responsibility it entails. People like them would argue that our existence precedes our essence, emphasizing the role of choice in defining who we are. To put it poetically, life is a canvas and it is we who paint our own destiny with our choices and decisions.
But then why is it that there are times when our choices don’t necessarily align with the supposed outcomes? Maybe we are looking at this all wrong. Maybe it might be worth entertaining the possibility that destiny and choice are not mutually exclusive and that life is a blend of both. This middle ground acknowledges the unpredictability of life, recognizing that chance encounters, unexpected opportunities, and external events can alter our trajectories. While some aspects may be destined, the choices we make within those parameters contribute to the overall narrative of our lives. So, while destiny may be mysterious, it is not magic and our choices go hand in hand with our destiny. It is in embracing the nuanced balance between the two that we find a more profound understanding of our journey.