Fate 101

Of course we moderns don’t like the ancient idea of fate since we live in the land of freedom, opportunity and possibility. We prefer to believe that the future is wide open. Generally speaking this is true; specifically it is not. For instance: you enjoy music, you are modestly talented, you like to think you could be a great composer (if only you worked long and hard enough exploring the great mysteries of music, if only you had enough time!)

Ah, there’s the rub–you have a mundane job/family/social life/ dog and cat. You weren’t born wildly brilliant–so you don’t have enough time or talent to become a great musician. But still you have enough time for music (or anything else you truly love ) to become moderately good at it or at least as good as you can be given the amount of time you apply to it with your modest aptitude. You must admit you are not going to become a world-renowned artist.

(What? You are limited by your–fate? Ah! If only there were enough time for passion!)

The ancient Greeks believed in the ‘Fates’: goddesses bestowed upon human beings their virtues, talents and weaknesses–and length of life. This suggests a predestined life that is limited and well-known to the goddess, but mostly unknown to mortals. Like a hand of cards in a poker game, some are handed aces, kings and queens and others are handed lesser cards. We moderns do not like that at all! Then comes the matter of how are the cards played: for the benefit of others or purely for selfishness?

Hand-in-hand with the Fates were the Furies, who dish out punishment for our misdeeds, or poorly played cards. A Greek soldier went into battle worry-free because the Fates had already decreed how long he would live and whether he would be a hero or a lesser being. Oh, how primitive! Well then, let’s see how far we moderns have advanced.

Now we call the Fates by a new name: genetics. Now we do not say our life is predetermined, we say instead it is predisposed. Now we have tendencies. Now we have inherited characteristics. Of course we accept environment as a contributing factor–but we know in our bones it is our genes that hold the high hand in our behavior. We no longer say “The devil made me do it.” We say, “My genes made me do it.” This is the genetic excuse.

On the other hand because of long observation in something so simple as physical exercise, we know that someone with a genetic tendency towards obesity or thinness, or weakness can–by determined effort of exercise and diet–completely transform into the shape more desired by the individual. A true definition of heroic: To overcome one’s genetic tendencies! Don’t you see people achieving beyond their limitations all the time? Or underachieving because they truly believe in their genetic limits?

Some of us still can’t help asking, “Why God didn’t you give me great genes, great talents? Paul McCartney,  Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, all from the great talent-pool wildly beyond normal–why couldn’t I have been born from that pool? So I could achieve greatly and not have to putz around in this economy-class gene pool? Why did Beethoven get world-class talent from the pool, and not me?

Let’s say you are God. You create millions of people and then they die. Now what to do with them? Our astronomers see mind-bogglingly vast universes of spinning galaxies filled with spinning stars and spinning planets–some of them just right for life. “Hmmm,” you say, “What’s it for? But no, I’m not going to go there when I die. I’m going to some infinitely huge heaven no one’s ever seen, nor can anyone imagine.” Fine. Go there. While the vast amazing universe smiles down upon you.

Pretend you are God and one of your little people loves music, works hard at music, as well as caring for his aged mother and taking care of his work responsibilities. And even with all of these responsibilities he far over-achieves his fate pool of genes and nearly becomes a master of music except for some wonderful unknown capacity, one single missing element we call genius for lack of a better word–and then because of a bad loaf of pumpernickel–he dies. What does God do with this nearly wonderful musician? A) Make room for him in the already overloaded heavenly choir? Or B) Send him back down to earth and name him Beethoven? What would you do?

Consider this. What if your so-called Fate, your so-called genetics, are the current crop of your previously sowed seeds from the merits and demerits of your previous existence? If this were true would it give you motivation to keep pushing your limited genetics to the limit? And whatever crop (or famine) you create in this life you will surely harvest in the next? All of the Good Books say it’s true. The big disagreement is whether the Next Life is in some foggily described heaven–or here on this incredibly dynamic gene-pool of a planet.

Could it be that your future ‘fate-or-genes’ are completely determined by your heroic efforts to overcome your limitations of today? That your current limitations are only temporary and only apply as long as you believe yourself limited to your ‘fate’?

Can you believe you are limited as well as unlimited? Is this the real Fate?       Phil

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