Is fate really behind everything?

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“Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds,” -President Franklin Roosevelt.

These days I find myself being very cynical about romance. More specifically about the overshared, super sweet and cheesy one. I do appreciate a good romantic gesture, but it has to be as devoid of clichés, rose petals and chocolate sweets as possible. Also, I do enjoy the occasional rom-com as I find it is healthy, in small doses, to feed the need to believe in true and magical love. If we do not have that sort of love in real life at least dream about it a little or live vicariously through a movie couple’s romance, right? For me the to-go rom-coms are definitely “You’ve got mail” and “Serendipity”. You just don’t see these days those kind of movies anymore.

As I write this blogpost I hear on TV the well-known saying: “Everything happens for a reason”. This is very appropriate since what I wanted to tackle here is the subject of destiny/fate and how we integrate related beliefs into our lives. A week ago, I wanted to see again the movie “Serendipity” and that was what started my inner monologue about fate. For those of you that did not see it, in “Serendipity” the girl and the guy meet in the rush of Christmas shopping, there is a spark between them, but it seems that both are in relationships, so there isn’t much that can happen between them. They just go to a little charming café named Serendipity where they talk about fate. The girl says that fate is behind everything and that we receive little signals and it is up to us how we manage those signals into our lives so that we are happy or sad. He then argues that then what is the meaning of life? Is everything predetermined?

But the conversation does not go any further than this. Also, she says how she likes the word serendipity (maybe this is what started the whole avalanche of “serendipity” tattoos) and it’s meaning: “a fortunate happenstance” or “a fortunate surprise”. Wikipedia says the following about serendipity:

Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. It was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”. The notion of serendipity is a common occurrence throughout the history of scientific innovation such as Alexander Fleming‘s accidental discovery of penicillin in 1928 and the invention of the microwave oven by Percy Spencer in 1945. The word has been voted one of the ten English words hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company. However, due to its sociological use, the word has been exported into many other languages.“

After their lovely chat they part ways but she only tells him her first name and also tells him to write his phone number on a 5 dollar bill. Then she buys something with it and she writes her phone number on a book which she obviously gives away. Then she says that if they are meant to be together, they will find the 5$ bill and the book and finally be a couple.

In the age of social media it is obviously easier to find someone (scary?) than it was in the era of pre social media and smartphones, like when the movie happens, so they gave up finding one another until one point. I jumped to social media because recently there was a very nice paragraph circulating Facebook as many people shared it, written by a young girl who caught the eye of a cute guy but did not act on the moment, so he was gone and now she was on a mission to find him. I don’t know how real or fabricated the whole story was, but it seemed like one of those moments that make life worth living and obviously people loved it and joined on the “search”. But from what I’ve heard she also got a lot of backlash, there were people who mocked her and were being extra cynical about it all. Of course it was unnecessary, but that is the kind of world we live in. Where a young girl’s enthusiasm for love is crushed. Real or not, that small paragraph full of hope and innocence got a lot of people’s attention. Maybe that of the boy’s too. We need more of these stories in our lives and less celebrity gossip and bullying.

I imagine if they later met, also accidentally, somewhere and remembered that day when they shared a smile and looks that could have led to something more. Maybe now they’d both be single and ready to take on a new love story together. Would fate be behind this or just pure coincidence? I don’t know if it really matters in these kind of situations, what matters is that it happened and that a second chance was offered at the right time.

I mentioned “right time” and then I remember another saying: “timing is everything”. These relate to the subject of fate as we tend to explain that then it was not meant to be or it is not now, but its time will come. Apparently and maybe very intuitively, we tend to use phrases like “it was meant to be” or “timing is everything” or “everything happens for a reason” related to decision making. That is, when we are faced with tough decisions we tend to rely on the “existence” of fate in order to take some of the weight of the responsibility, for the decision, off of our shoulders. Believing or relying at times on fate offers comfort, reduces anxiety related with not knowing what to do, what decision to make or facing the unknown. You’ve been there saying, after enduring stress: “I don’t care anymore, whatever happens, happens.”

For me it is not very comfortable to believe that everything has already been written, that things are meant to be, because then I think that what is really our role into this whole fate thing, are we just passive passengers? But when things do get uncertain and stressful I do take comfort in thinking things like “what has to happen will happen” and hope that it will be a good thing eventually.  

What is your take on the fate/destiny matter? How are your beliefs related to fate shaped?

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