Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Fate...The Final Frontier.
Didn't Devo say something about freedom of choice?

If you didn't think I knew what I was talking about yesterday, today isn't going to be much better.

How many of you out there believe in fate/destiny? Show of hands.

And how many believe in total freedom of choice/you are what you do? Show of hands.

How many believe in a higher power (God/Allah/Krishna/Space Aliens)?

How many read horoscopes?

How many take it seriously?

How many think it's bullsh!t?

And how many think it's bullsh!t but get a little freaked out when it seems true?

Numerologists? Chinese Horoscopes? While were on the subject, I Ching?

Now answer the question that came just before this one, but after the horoscope questions about thinking it's stupid, but occasionally true.

And how many combinations do any of you make of the above?

And how many acknowledge that all of it is just vague enough to apply to any number of infinite situations?

To me, fortunetelling is like anything else, it's playing percentages. There's a good enough chance that it's gonna be true for enough people that they'll try it again tomorrow.

But the fate stuff...hmmm..that's a little more difficult.

It was once predicted that I would end up all by myself at the end of my life. Along the way, it's been remarked that many people can't imagine me married or who would marry me (These are my good friends I might add.). For myself, I see that my track record isn't too good for any of a number or reasons. The reason I bring fate into is partially the first sentence of this paragraph and partially a trend I've noticed about myself: I have cosmically bad timing.

Things just don't pan out at the proper times when they're supposed to. Relationships especially fall prey to this. I'm not available, they're not available, and the moments passed by the time either party is. And I've moved around a lot. And I'm not always the easiest person to get along with.

There's that, and my total lack of faith in humanity...

Anyhow, I've begun to wonder about the truth of that prediction.

First a little about my feelings on Feng Shui. I'm not denying there may be some spiritual validity to it. I do, however, think that enlightenment is a gift only to those truly open to it or seeking it. I don't think Joe & Jill Yuppie who buy The Dummies Guide to Feng Shui are acheiving the same results. In those cases, I think it's merely a self-fulfilling prophecy: you find your life more organized because you organized it. Following this guide, your changing things for the results you want and seeing them because you changed it according to the guide. It's circular logic. Like diets, in many cases, I'm sure one household/office nirvana has been achieved, many revert right back to the way they used to live.

I often feel the same way about little predictions from horoscopes to fortune cookies. As the Mud Buddha in The Storm Riders said, people always except good fortunes and always reject the bad ones. If it's good, I think many people spend the day purposely or unconsciously living that out. If it's bad, you dismiss it as not possible. Of course, how often are they really all that bad. (The Onion horoscopes don't count...but they are funnier.)

Personally, I believe it's a matter of degree like everything else.

First of all, not everyone gets to be rich.

Not everyone gets to be famous.

Not everyone gets to be beautiful.

Very few out of the world population get all of the above.

Even less of those get to be exceptionally intelligent.

Even less of those ever do anything with it.

(On a side note: Have you ever thought that with the constant population rise in the world, it would increase the odd of us popping out Einstein's and Michelangelo's left and right? You ever considered why we don't? Personally I think it's because the higher population raises the average but drops the exceptional.)

Anyhow, my point is that you can't believe that destiny always leads to riches and fame. If anything American Idol should have proven that not everyone could or should be a singer. On the opposite note, The Simple Life proved that riches and fame don't buy class, culture, or intelligence. At the same time, I do think that if your recognize opportunities, you know yourself through and through, and with a little luck you can rise above the cards that fate seemingly has dealt you.

By saying that, I believe at the same time, arguably contradictory, in free choice. Within certain societal and physical limits, you can choose to do whatever you want. By virtue of that, just like I said you can get yourself onto a new and better course, I also think you can end up horribly derailed.

Ever notice how much talk becomes about 'paths'? You choose a path. He's on his path. That's the pass you picked. And so on.

Well, I see life as an incredibly intricate network of paths. Your network overlaps the networks of all the people you encounter. Every time you encounter someone, it's got the possibility to become a intersection of some importance. Along those paths are certain points that your bound to hit as long as you stay within certain paramaters. How you get there is determined by the choices you make.

Like I said, chances are you'll hit them. But you can eff up bad enough to fall into a whole diffent strata of choices.

Some people have argued, mainly in semantics, about how that can't work. To me, you were destined to do whatever because you chose for it to be that way. Ultimately, something I'll argue for most things in life, if you don't like it, too bad, you picked it to work that way. Other things happen outside of that, that I believe are just plain fate.

Then there's the matter of evils. Like real evils. Historical evils. Like could Hitler have chosen another path in life at some point, or was it inevitable that he would become what he became. The real ethical difficulty on a sort of cosmic scale is whether he can be blamed for all the evil if he never had any choice but to be what he was? It's still evil. It's still wrong. And no one wants to think of something like the Holocaust as being meant to happen, especially when no good comes out of it. It's tough, depending on what kind of eyes you use to look at the bigger and bigger picture. (And it's easy to forget the humanity of it all.)

Thrown in to that sort of mix is stuff like karma. I think that too is self fulfilling, and not necessarily cosmic. Typically you do good things, you feel better, and more people are willing to do nice things in return. The opposite is true as well. But think about it for a second. How many people do you know who try to be nothing but good, helpful, and cheerful and never get anything back? How many people are evil obnoxious idiots who never get it back either? Maybe it's all saved up for that next life, but you have to believe in reincarnation to buy that bit. (My problem with that is that whole thing about all souls having always existed throughout time...well, how does that work with more and more people on earth? What about twins? Do they split a sould like they share DNA?) Personally, I'd prefer to go through this nonsense just once.

(Side note: Satanism's got to be the silliest, and easily the most insecure. God doesn't love you, but the ultimate evil will? Besides, if Satan's so all powerfully evil, why is he gonna give a rat's @$$ what kind of run of the mill piddly evil stuff you can do on earth? Besides which , I don't believe in the traditional Satan either..oh wait you haven't read that part yet...Anyhow, I think for most 'satanist's, they're either poseurs or people who make more of an effort to prove what jack@$$es they are than joe average who's already doing a good job.)

By the way, if you ever get the chance, read a little of Frazer's The Golden Bough. That pretty much debunks most fo the wicca/magic/voodoo stuff. Just because it's old doesn't mean it's right. And with all the mediated crap out there nowadays it's probably just more steps further from what those earlier peoples were trying. For most, you'll find that kind of magic works about as often as it doesn't.

Ultimately there's a few things I can't and don't try to explain away. I always like exceptions to the rule...and just plain weird sh*t. Not to mention the fact that I've got the faith. I believe in God, but probably not in a sense your traditionally familiar with.

So back to my initial problem.

I guess the real question is, after reading this, could you sleep with someone who would systematically tear your beliefs apart like that?

Seriously, I can't tell if what I'm going through and what I'm feeling is a matter of fate/destiny or the result of a global society I feel like I no longer feel a part of because of my beliefs (ie. anti-materialism/moneygrubbing, belief in quality, belief in significance, a sense of honor and respect for myself, the world, and higher power). I've let go of many people over the past couple of years not because I thought they were necessarily bad or wrong, but because they didn't offer me anything further, nor I them. It has nothing to do with self-righteousness, but you could easily argue that based on my own reasoning that if I end up alone, it will be result of my choices.

We'll see where I am next year, maybe?


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