Friday, 14 June 2013

Destiny's Implacability

During my time studying and drinking in Aberystwyth, I've also spent a lot of time thinking - at points until my mind has gone numb. Those of you brazen enough to brave this storm of thought can contribute, comment, accuse, question any aspect of it. After all, we all love a good debate, don't we? With each post I write, more and more incremental blocks of information regarding who I am, what I do, and some explanation of my purpose in life, will be unveiled.             
                Now, shall we begin?
            Recently I read this line on a social networking site: "Destiny is for losers, it's just an excuse to wait for things to happen, instead of making them happen."
            Is this an accusation? A criticism of somebody being indolent, wasteful? Is it self-realisation, and therefore, self-deprecation? The bitter, stinging reality of an epiphany's purpose? Or, perhaps, it is an instance of solipsistic self-assertion. This is how it is and you shall believe it for ever more! Ever come across anything like that before...?
            Soon after reading this, mind numb, my body cold from almost ten minutes of motionless reflection, I asked myself, "could destiny instead be the reason for things happening? Could destiny be the force that drives everything, if anything, at all?"
            The ever-dependable Oxford English Dictionary has destiny written down with this definition at its forefront, "that which is destined or fated to happen to a particular person, place or institution".
            An interesting concept. The most simplistic question (and perhaps most complicated) seems to be, 'does destiny exist?'.  Is there really someone, or something, controlling the fate of all that happens, and all that is, in this universe, right down to the finest gossamer threads of seven billion different lives? (Now that would be something to put on the old C.V., wouldn't it?) Yet, there seems to be an egregious flaw in this theory - death and birth. The many people who die each day, and the newborns gracing mothers and fathers all across the globe - they are different people, living different lives, from those who have recently passed on. When is our fate determined? Before we are born, before we make a decision ourselves, relying upon our parents and carers? Or does destiny follow a more one-step-at-a-time methodology? People often hear of somebody burning in a fire, or drowning, and say "I wouldn't want to go like that," and I've wondered myself, how, when my time comes, I'd want to reach my demise. Usually, the quiet, peaceful descent into oblivion seems more appealing than being singed or shot or decapitated. But are we helpless to merely guess and hope for or against? Do I already have a predetermined, invisible ticket with "motorbike accident" written on it? Yes or no, so many of us intertwine our lives every day - can this alter our destiny, change our fate? How does this omnipotent lord above keep balancing these threads of life? Are each of us, humans, dogs, cats, trees, the existence of everything...are we woven onto some great tapestry; are we to be found in the glossary of the largest story ever composed? Just how much would the 'being' in control of destiny have to orchestrate? Nature, the cosmos, everything?
            What about motivation? This being, creator, god - what drives it? Collective belief? Across the human population, individual beliefs range across a gargantuan spectrum, and some of us (the more capricious amongst us), cannot fully pin down what, why, nor how, we truly believe things happen. So then, this lord that is the great leveller, the bringer of balance, the definition of happening, is it all an intricate composition? Are we spun as a web by their daedal craftsmanship, each step we take - our failures, our successes - are they recorded on a script of cause and effect, where every detail is accounted for, and ultimately, meaningful?      
            Destiny. As a student, when I'm walking to the university, hedging my bets as to whether or not an essay of mine has been marked (usually not, surprise, surprise!), I, perhaps like many, perhaps like only a few, go through the multitude of possible scores I might have achieved. 1% all the way to 100%. Each is, at this point in my nervous mind, as possible as the next. The dizzy heights of a First Class essay, all the way down to the suicide-tempting FAIL. That I'm writing this blog is a testimony of no fails thus far, not of me resisting the aforementioned temptation. I read through the essay the night before any day where I resolve to check if a marked copy is ready for collection. Sometimes, I've re-read my essay seven or eight times before I receive my mark. Often, I find slight flaws in my sentences, questions in my own interrogations which I didn't ask, impositions I could have played on more than I did, some that I didn't notice at all. Such discoveries are...too late. Perhaps, to some extent, a contrivance of my nervous imagination, seeking to lampoon myself before I've even passed or failed. (Drive and determination will feature in another blog, count on it.)
            The important reminder in this struggle for composure is that, this essay now has one mark. Be it 67%, 59%, 17%. Be it anything. It has been marked, "my fate is sealed" as the saying goes; my destiny lies before me. Yet what does this mean? No matter which way I walk to the essay office, no matter what shirt I wear, how many prayers I now sing, my mark is going to be the same. My chance to make it better disappeared when I believed it was a finished product; any regrets I'll have over the final score could have been mollified somewhat by setting aside more time to work on it. Destiny waits for nobody.
            What about another example - football. Are match results pre-determined by how players will each react and act differently to each pass, tackle, shot, flash of movement, that they experience? Will something unexpected happen to swing the pendulum in one team's favour? Perhaps. Goals often happen, after all, because defensively one team has faltered, allowing the magical moment from the attacking team to occur.
            Let us also consider the emotional investment. We have no idea what will happen. Be it a game of sports, receiving an essay mark or finding out if we got a job; would we rather ride the uncertain waves of the unknown, allowing the fate of the match, the score of the paper, the state of our happiness, to be controlled by the tension of the unknown, or, as impatient as humans can be, would we each prefer to know in a quick, sudden manner? No tense penalty kicks, no sticky examination envelopes, no formal phone-calls, just...everything, there before us.
            The latter doesn't seem very possible, yet that is just as well, for tension is one root of emotion that we should never forget. 

Shaun Carter.


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