Does Life Have a Plan for You?
Destiny. Fate. Serendipity. Fortune. Luck. Chance. Coincidence. How do you view life?
Do you see it as a series of random events created and managed by you; or as a pre-determined path you have no choice but to follow – with your future already mapped out from the moment you’re born?
Whether you are a realist or believe in fairy tales or God, the concept of living a pre-ordained life is not new. Dating as far back as the writings of the Hellenistic period (that’s ancient Greece circa 300BC, for the non-historians among us), this was discussed between groups such as the Stoics and the Epicureans. The Stoics believed that God had devised a divine plan for us all and our decisions and actions ultimately led us to the same place. Although they believed that we all have free will, they still preached that our souls and the circumstances surrounding our lives are all part of the universal network of fate. The Epicureans, on the other hand, denied the existence of this divine fate. They believed that human actions, as long as they were rational, were controlled only by us.
Over two thousand years later and we’re none the wiser…
So far I have used the words ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ interchangeably, when in fact there is a subtle difference between the two. Fate is what happens when you do nothing – it’s the wave on which you float through life that carries you to your end… whether that be paradise or a rocky cliff face. Destiny is a lot more glamorous than that, it is your greatest potential waiting to happen. The burning flame to which, like moths, we are drawn to reach our full potential and create the best version of ourselves. Either way both imply one thing and one thing only… the future is not ours to control, no matter how much we think our good and bad luck is of our own making.
And never more so has the concept been embraced than when we speak of love.
Oh love! That ancient tale of chance versus fate and destiny versus coincidence is a well thumbed tome. After all, there is nothing more romantic than attributing our love life to forces outside of our understanding or control. The idea that our souls are forever reaching out beyond our body and mind, attempting to connect to a divine force, searching for that special someone that will finally make us feel whole. Love has always been portrayed as something waiting to happen, something that has to happen, and a force so strong that can strike at any moment whether we expect it to or not.
After all, leaving the search for our Soul Mate to fate is so much easier than a night of speed dating, Tinder or being set up with another friend’s friend of a friend who is just ‘perfect’ for us! Nope, just sit back and wait… love is just around the corner and it’s going to be glorious.
So should we actively look for love, or will it find us? Is our love out there waiting for us – two lives forever spinning uncontrollably together – or is the meeting of bodies and minds a lot less romantic and just down to luck and kissing a lot of unsuitable frogs first?
When I began writing my first book ‘The Path Keeper’, I wanted the concept of destiny and fate to be the invisible thread holding the story together. Zac loves Ella. Ella loves Zac. Except Zac has a secret, he already knows who the man of her dreams is meant to be and he’s fighting his feelings for her so as not to get in the way of her life path. But can he do it? Can love ever be stronger than fate? And what about past lives: if you believe they exist, can they also influence the present? Nature fighting nurture; bad decisions obstructing fate; second chances and destiny colliding… what is really moving us forward through life?
The idea of our lives having a pre-destined path has always fascinated me. It all began with one book: ‘The Celestine Prophesy’, a parable by James Redfield. Upon reading it, I finally felt like my life made sense. Ah, my young mind exclaimed, so our lives are not about learning and evolving as we go along but remembering that which we already knew before we were born. According to the book coincidences aren’t a matter of chance, a numbers game of probability if you will, but life’s sign posts leading us along the right path.
I won’t pretend that this viewpoint hasn’t coloured my life or my creative writing, of course it has. Not only has it made me consider every little event in my life, but it has also given the characters in my own writing career something to think about too.
But what I think, or you think, doesn’t really matter. The truth is we’ll never know the answer.
I’ll never know whether that cute guy in Australia who had been too drunk to catch his coach was just a backpacking piss-head or had been living out his destiny, because the bus he did eventually catch was the one I was on – his future wife and mother to his children. What if my now-husband had stayed sober that night and had caught the original bus… would we have met anyway? Was that God’s ultimate plan, or are there endless possibilities of how our lives could have panned out, the infinite forks in the road on which we have traveled all still out there in a parallel universe?
If not, then the alternative is pretty bleak. If we don’t believe in miracles then that means every fantastic and shitty thing that has ever happened to us is our own fault. The terrible boyfriends and the embarrassing blind dates, the missed opportunities and the run of bad luck, have all been down to us and our bad decision making.
Perhaps it’s time to stop blaming luck and actively create our own happy ever after. Shrug off our soul and its eternal search for its mate and use our brains to find that perfect match. As the expert of all things love and ill-fated, William Shakespeare, once wrote – ‘It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves’.
Maybe he was right, he probably was… but personally I prefer to be a daydreaming passenger on the fast train to destiny. Love and life are so much more fun when you believe in magic.
(Note from The Editor : N. J. Simmonds is the author of the upcoming novel ‘The Path Keeper’, available to buy from 23 February 2017. For more information about N. J. Simmonds you can visit her personal website here or her author page here.