I was a child, I had certain dreams. I had visions of where
I was going to be and what I was going to be like.
Those dreams and visions became ambitions by almost natural
course of action, even though deliberate action was taken
to engender them one day to fruition.
I say natural because it was only in 2006, when
I was devastatingly thwarted, that I realised just how much
of my life, my decisions and my behaviour pivoted on these
ambitions. They really governed everything I thought and did:
the friendships I created and, more so, didnt create;
the jobs I kept; the kinds of relationships I had...
I was told last week those dreams and visions and ambitions
were not going to be realised.
Its something weve all thought about at some point
in our lives: has everything been mapped out for us? Are our
lives predestined to go this way or another? Is there a well-defined
plan of how our lives will progress?
And, the better question: is there nothing we can do to change
Last week, I met someone with a holy name and the ability
to do something arguably divine. He took my date and time
of birth and was able to tell me all about myself, about my
past, and about my future.
Yes, I, the born-sceptic, saw an astrologer.
I did it, predictably, out of sheer curiosity: I had the chance,
so I did it.
But I also did it, again predictably, because I wanted to
know things. I needed to know if certain specific things,
those intrinsically crucial things on which my life has always
been hinged, would come to pass.
And from the very first words uttered from his lips, this
born-sceptic started believing.
Miss Cleo would have been proud, mon.
I questioned little of what he said about me and about my
past. He was nearly always spot-on. But it was practically
pejorative, though truthful, the character judgments he made.
Why am I that way, I thought? Look at how it has precluded
achievement, success, happiness?
And the outlook was similarly negative; my movement, my career,
my relationships will all be frustrated by some of the very
things and qualities that have precluded success up until
these change, I asked pleadingly.
with devotion, he said.
Well, devotion, and some serious self-help books.
Is it that our lives really are planned out for us? Even if
we know whats going to happen, theres nothing
we can do to stop, change, overcome or mitigate it?
Its like those superhero movies, or that Early Edition
show we used to see years ago. Except scriptwriters can change
the plot. Perhaps, since we dont pay our scriptwriter,
we dont always get what we want.
Is it that, if we know something is going to happen, and we
do the exact opposite of what precedes it, it will still happen?
Sounds fantastic, unconvincing to the rational, scientific,
educated mind. I mean, we do it every day: take
control, do something rather than have something done to us.
We wait for the cars to pass before we cross the street so
we dont get knocked down.
But what if everything were predestined? What if we were told
we were going to be knocked down? Cant we wait on the
pavement? Dont we have that power as human beings? Cant
we stay away from the streets on the whole? Dont we
have that free will?
Or are we, in fact, powerless? That no matter what we try
or do, even if we know our destiny, or fate, the ineluctable,
we still cant prevent it? Again, the movie: seeing the
car or truck or train coming, and being powerless to stop
it from striking us. The camera pans out. We see ourselves;
we see the car speeding ahead. It zooms in to our petrified
faces. Then bam: blackout, next scene.
Does knowing it actually, inadvertently, engender it to happen?
Theres an irony: resignation to the inevitable, saying
to hell with trying, its going to happen anyway.
Predictions, therefore, make it all seem so pointless, so
futile, so exhausting, the experience of life. It is, in a
sense, an attempt at defying certain truths that
are bigger than us: challenging a force that, perhaps, we
are just too puny to fight.
Yet mans most instinctive inclination is to survive.
We see the car coming, we get out of the way. We see a tsunami
coming, we run. Hell, in the words of former Sunday Guardian
columnist Elsa Wrench, people even try to outrun
Ideally, one can take predictions like those made of my life
and do what it takes, whatever it takes, to make them turn
out better. Its a wake-up call, for sure, a diagnosis
to take and figure out how to make things better.
We have no control over external things. We dont drive
the speeding car. We dont pay the scriptwriter.
But we have control over ourselves. We have control over the
responses we make to outside forces. We have free will. We
have instinct to survive, to make it better.
At the end, before fate gets us, that must amount to something.