Sunday, April 19, 2009

faith, fate, and effort

Why do things happen the way they do?

I have no idea. Not surprisingly, though, I have some thoughts. (Three, specifically.)

1. Faith
I was in a conversation this weekend with two friends about faith. One is very devout (to the extent of saving her virginity for her husband) and the other was asking her about how her faith shows up in her every day life; how she translates stories from the Bible that are centuries old to have meaning in our very modern world. And my devout friend said that, while she has had an upbringing full of sermons that do a lot of that translation for her, she just has faith. She believes in something for which there is no proof.

Because I've read it somewhere (and now can't remember where) I offered the idea that we all have faith, we just sometimes have faith in the wrong things. Like if you believe you're going to fail, you have faith, it's just not in your own success. And one of the benefits of believing in a mythology (which can be anything -- organized religion, psychology, self-help books, your own personal faith, etc.) is that you are provided with a positive shape for things to take. And this model, this shape to aim for, is one part of what makes things happen.

It puts you in a mindset that opens doors, breaks down barriers, and allows the things that are meant for you to enter into your life. (That's not to say that things that aren't meant for you don't enter as well, but I'm not interested in exploring that road right now.) For me, faith in a benevolent universe, in my own strength and power, and faith that the Great Narrator is enriching my character... these all help me keep moving.

2. Fate
I watched the second to last disc of Felicity (a J.J. Abrams series that I love like too much chocolate) and, oddly enough, the episodes were all about fate. Three times in two episodes, someone said to Felicity, "if it was meant to be, it'll happen." And while it's a very passive approach to the future and the way things happen, I believe there is some validity to having a fate-filled mindset.

This approach I apply mainly to the things in my life I can't control. Like boys. I strongly believe that there is someone out there for me, and I make effort (see below) to discover him, but it will happen only when it's supposed to happen. I can't force it. I can only be responsible and ready for whenever that time comes.

I'm not 100% clear on the idea of fate. It's tied up in both faith and effort, but also very clearly aligned with the wherever-you-go-there-you-are idea. That your fate is what plays itself out in the end -- that you can't know it in advance. I like the idea that my story is being written as I live it, and if there is an author, then he/she knows where my character's arc is supposed to go, and I just face the complexities that are going to shape me into that character. My fate, my destiny, is to be Me. Whoever that is.

3. Effort
For me, this is the easiest of the many ways to make things happen. What I am in charge of in my life, I make every effort to be completely responsible for.

I wanted very much to be an actor, for example, and I made the effort to lay all the groundwork and be responsible for my own career. Then I had faith that I would be a success (although, in hindsight, I'm not sure I thoroughly developed that faith), and if it's what I was fated for, it would have happened.

It didn't. Now, I'm not blaming Big Bad Fate for my not having had the acting career I wanted. I could certainly go back and try again, this time with a little more faith or a little more effort, or I can look at what I learned by giving it up and start all over by making more effort in another direction.

Wherever I go, there I am. And I'm always me. And I make the effort to have the faith that my fate is aligned with my desires.

Or at least I'm trying.

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