Today I’m thinking about… destiny within reason.

May 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

Let me begin this by saying that I do not believe in magic. I had an eye opening experience with a magic kit as a child with which I could not render my brother permanently disappeared, and since then have approached the whole practice with a keen sense of cynicism. Nor do I believe in Mermaids, Witches, Zombies, Jesus rising from the grave or Fairies (but I invite you to clap your hands if you feel so inclined). I can’t stretch my imagination far enough to describe to you the things that I do not believe in, but I do, somewhat against my better judgement, believe in destiny.

Destiny is an annoying term, because whenever I mention it in a positive fashion I feel like a genuine arsehole; the kind of person who expresses opinions in singular, worthless cliches with wide eyed expectation that you will absolutely, without a doubt agree with every syllable uttered from their flapping mouth. ‘Uh…sure, I suppose everything could happen for a reason, but that doesn’t change the fact that my dog is dead.’ Of course this particular kind of arsehole generally has the best intentions, and the most naive of dispositions. So why do I feel so compelled to fall into their ranks?

Some people feel that destiny is a kind of magic, that life is ‘written in the stars’ and other endearing phrases they picked up from a Kate Beckinsale rom-com. When things fall into place so perfectly, like when I stumbled upon a mega comic book sale the day I decided to purchase all of Scott McCloud’s seminal work, it can seem quite magical. The number one rule in a magic trick, however, is perfection. If you perfect a trick as a magician, to the objective viewer it will seem like the coin really did come from behind their own ear, the bunny did suddenly *pop* into existence inside a man’s top hat and my brother did in fact disappear …forever. Am I calling destiny an elaborate magic trick? Well, short answer, yes.

But this doesn’t mean it isn’t ‘real’. Just that it isn’t what Kate Beckinsale, Meg Ryan and other girl-next-door starlets would have you believe. For the long answer I will turn to Shakespeare (please mind your step on the slippery English wank) who wrote of destiny;

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

– The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

This is a depiction of destiny as something both ubiquitous and greater than, but also something that we can, in our inevitable fallibility, totally fuck up. Another way to put this is that there are directions in this world that can suit us, that fit, that are right and worthwhile and will lead us to bigger and better things, but it’s still in our power to be complete fools and reason our way off these paths. What I am proposing here is that destiny is not the magic we pre-suppose it to be, but the perfectly natural occurrence of benefitting in happenstance.

This has been at the forefront of my mind lately. Probably because the concept destiny is littered with complicated words like hope, failure, desperation, disappointment, hesitation and fear, words that have been chief in my vocabulary as of late. In ‘peeping about’ the legs of destiny I have found myself both powerless and responsible, which is, to be frank, a freakin’ frustrating place to be.

I said to a person I care about recently that if things are right, if they work, if they fit, then we will find a way to come back to them. I wasn’t entirely sure what I meant by that at the time, but I feel I can clarify in saying this; destiny is about following your feelings, those remarkable senses and emotions that help you sort right from wrong, and being patient with the path they put you on. To go back to a purposely impersonal example, I may not have seen that comics sale if Scott McCloud hadn’t been so prominent in my mind. And maybe you one day too will stumble upon that magical thing that will be so perfectly presented you won’t even realise all the previous choices you’ve made to inform that particular inevitability.

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§ 2 Responses to Today I’m thinking about… destiny within reason.

  • Phil says:

    On a tangential note, the coolest creative approach to destiny/prophecy I’ve ever come across was in Morrowind, where you’re on the path to becoming a reincarnated god. About half way through the game you find a sacred cave where you meet the ghosts of all the fallen heroes who were on their way to that same destiny but died on the way. The prophecy existed, but it was not a ‘path set in stone’. Instead, the destiny was marked by a series of waypoints – conditions that if met (by anyone, or no-one) would result in the prophecy being fulfilled. It really restored the hero’s agency, and I thought it was a sweet narrative technique! Not what you’re talking about, but that’s what it got me thinking.

    • kararose says:

      It kinda is. That’s sort of like the Buddhist philosophy of enlightenment. You take all these steps and at the end you reach a transcendence.
      You see, I suppose my take on destiny could be summed up as the path you *should* follow as opposed to the path you’re *meant* to. Prophecies become momentous prospects to reach for.
      Like in Harry Potter (haha). If he wasn’t guided from a young age into the fight with Voldemort, the prophecy wouldn’t have been fulfilled – he would have never reached his so called ‘destiny’. The only reason he did was because of the choices he and those around him made, consciously and unconsciously. Choices they felt were right. 🙂

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