Feather & Flint

Do You Believe in Fate?

October 20, 2016 7 Comments 3 Photos

"Our lives are as much a product of what we choose not to do as what we actually do. The lives we don't live inform the lives we live, and sometimes even haunt them." –Rebecca McClanahan

There’s an evocative, enigmatic stillness that arises in the middle of the night, when most of the world is fast asleep. On rare occasions (often in the presence of a bonfire and a bottle of wine), I find myself turning my face toward the stars, contemplating just how little we know about the invisible forces that shape our lives—those that we’ll never fully comprehend, no matter how far science advances.

Do You Believe in Fate?

There have been countless turning points in my story where a single decision set off a chain of events that changed the course of my life in ways I could never have predicted. If I hadn’t fallen in love right as I was deciding where to spend the second half of college, I likely wouldn’t have chosen to stay in Boston. If I hadn’t been unceremoniously betrayed by the person I loved a few short months later, I would never have applied for a part-time job to distract me from the overwhelming emotional fallout. If I hadn’t gotten the job at that particular Starbucks at that particular time, I would never have met the man I ended up marrying. The cause-and-effect chain is infinite and mind-boggling.

When I ask Alex about this, he says that he believes that certain things in life are destined to occur. The complex web of our fates would shift to ensure that our paths would cross at a pivotal moment, no matter the choices that had taken us in different directions before that moment. If it hadn’t been that Starbucks, he’s certain, it would have been another—if not Boston, then somewhere else. We were fated to meet, and regardless of the course of our lives up until that point, we would have ended up together.

Do You Believe in Fate?

On these rare occasions in the middle of the night, I wonder: Is there a parallel universe for every road not taken, every possibility that never materialized? Somewhere out there, is there a separate future unfolding for every job I ever applied to and didn’t get; every college I considered but didn’t attend; every relationship that ended prematurely or never began at all? Who would I have turned out to be? How much can one event impact the course of our lives—and how far could the two roads diverge before I would no longer recognize myself? Would my life have been easier? Would I have been more successful? Would I be happier?

I’ve learned that people are astonishingly resilient. In spite of how often we attach our happiness to a particular outcome, we tend to be equally optimistic or pessimistic regardless of our circumstances. We find trivial things to be frustrated by even if we’re incredibly lucky; and extraordinarily simple things make us illogically happy even when our lives are extremely difficult.

Given the chance, would you choose to live any other version of your life? Do you believe that you’d feel more fulfilled had any thwarted future played out instead of the one that you’re living? Would you choose to skip over the difficulties that you’ve endured along the way in favor of an easier but less meaningful learning experience?

For me, the answer will always be a resounding “no.” I continually choose my wild, idiosyncratic, complicated, non-linear story over any other. I like to think that the universe functions in the equilibrium between good and evil; that adversity is ultimately counter-balanced by good fortune on the balance sheet of our lives. I choose to believe that there’s a greater significance underlying our existence than a story we craft to connect a series of disparate events—a meaning that we spend our lives searching for, before ultimately realizing that it’s up to each of us to create it.

Do You Believe in Fate?

Do you believe in fate? When you look up at the stars in the middle of the night, beside a crackling fire with a glass of wine in your hand, what do you think about?

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  1. Reply

    Your Father

    October 20, 2016

    I am not, however, your Father who lives in heaven.

    I believe that:
    1) Time is man-made
    2) Everything just IS
    3) Randomness allows order

    Let me explain (without fire or wine):

    1) In the Universe there is no beginning, no end; no start, no finish. Similarly, there is no up, no down; no left, no right. These are all concepts created by man to put order to infinity. We are born and we die. All of our lives are centered around that reality. The Universe always WAS and will always exist with or without my relatively insigficant life. And this is because:

    2) The Universe and everything in it just IS. It didn’t start and it won’t stop. Certainly it will change and parts of it will evolve, but it’s always been here and will always remain.

    3) With the infinite combinations of forces, actions, reactions, materials, and everything else in universal existence, it would be impossible to NOT have something fall in an order that makes sense to us. I would venture a guess that the disorder far outnumbers the order in the Universe, but in an effort to explain the unexplainable we take notice of – and place increased significance on – anything that appears ordered, symmetrical or conveniently explainable to us. We see what we want to see and put transcendental virtues on things like the face of Jesus in a piece of toast because it taxes our ability to comprehend. So we fabricate an explanation that while making no logical sense satisfies our fears of the unknown. It’s also known to stimulate ones sense of faith.

    • Reply


      October 20, 2016

      I totally agree! I think that religion exists because it’s comforting to people to have a prescribed set of values and explanations for the things that confuse and frighten us. The brain loves to take mental shortcuts to reserve energy for more immediate concerns, so superimposing a story or external structure onto disordered phenomena is something we almost certainly do every minute of every day. I always knew I wasn’t the only existentialist in this family 🙂

      • Reply

        Your Father

        October 20, 2016

        There are at least 2 of us for whom the Pearly Gates are clearly not a likely option.

  2. Reply

    Sarah Jean althouse

    December 19, 2016

    Sometimes I believe in fate, as in something is part of a bigger plan. And when I look at the stars I think of God and His creativity!

  3. Reply


    December 19, 2016

    Personally, I do believe it, there is somehow destined occurs will happen, of course depend on our decision making too. Sharing with you my favourite life quote ~ everything happens for a reason~ I always believe all happen for a good reason, we learnt & become a better person. Cheers, SiennyLovesDrawing

  4. Reply


    December 22, 2016

    It just something deep to think about and somehow worthwhile , and I do believe in fate most days. I have seen rare occurrences where I fully believe.

  5. Reply

    bianca nunez

    December 22, 2016

    I personally somedays believe in Fate because I have seen so many examples of what can become of it.