Why does it always happen to me?
How often have you heard yourself or someone else says that? When we are at our lowest points in life, it is difficult to remember or even notice the good things that happened to us or are happening to us. Drowning in self-pity, remorse, and grief feels addictive even though it is painful.
Blaming an invisible deity or a higher power for what we do not like or what we feel is beyond our control is not a new notion.
The question is – Where do you draw the line before it is too late? Drowning in anxiety over the past or fear for the future is easy and seems comforting in a way. However, not letting life just happen to you and taking the reigns to make changes is when you finally use your power as a living being – your free will.
1. Free Will or Predestination – A Paradox
A human’s belief in God seems to be incompatible with a human’s free will. What can a human being do in the face of a natural disaster or an unexpected accident?
For instance, if John knew he was going to be hit by a drunk driver on Wednesday, he surely would not have gone out on that day. However, he took the same route every day, at the same time and in the same way. Then what was so different about Wednesday?
His choice clashed with someone else’s irresponsible choice. How would John have known? If he had known, would he have made his choice differently? Maybe that would have made a difference. Or maybe not. So many what-ifs and maybes.
Can you imagine living the rest of your life wondering about what-ifs and maybes? Living in the past or the future makes no sense. You are alive and real right now. The past is no more, and the future hasn’t even happened yet. Only the present exists as what it is.
2. Is Free Will an Illusion?
Free will is the ability to decide, do, or think without any coercion or imposition. If we could do whatever we wanted to do, would there be any suffering in this world? No one would freely choose to suffer. Perhaps, what is real is an illusion that we can voluntarily choose our destiny.
In other words, we seem to be robots with the capacity to think and make choices. But what about our involuntary limitations? Memories, genetic predispositions, character defects, accidents, lusts, goals – momentary automatic neurochemical activities or just random quantum interactions.
An individual can be compared to a blank paper or that first blank draft in your folder. It has the potential to be anything like a tragic story or a beautiful piece of art, or a careless doodle.
However, it is affiliated with certain limitations from the very beginning. For example, the size and shape of the blank paper or the capacity or file size of that draft already puts a limitation on its potential.
3. Are We Doomed to Fate or Predestination?
An individual born in poverty can not become a millionaire overnight. This is their fate or predestination for the present moment, which they are aware of. But your current reality is not your ultimate destination in life. Growing up poor did not stop numerous leaders, innovators, and experts from becoming what they are today. The humble ones can make History.
Life is interpreted in different ways by various people. Some call it a journey. Some call it a game. Some even think it is some part of a computer game and the creator or God is a dude sitting in his mother’s basement while programming our lives according to his whims.
For now, we will call life an expedition. Sometimes, it makes sense and sometimes, it leaves us wondering.
Vasco de Gama did not know he was going to discover India when he went on a voyage. That guy was probably bored and wanted to have fun. On a serious note, his dauntlessness to venture into the unknown made him come across a surprise that we still remember from our History lessons.
If he was bored, he could have succumbed to distractions like wine and women to fit in with the comfortable lifestyle of his time. But he chose something else. Sure, he was lucky not to have faced any tragic ending, unexpectedly before his discovery, but that is the point of life – try and make memories.
4. Seeing Through a Tragedian’s Lens
From the viewpoint of a tragedian, life is a tiring hustle that can be won through hard work and determination to persist through all kinds of obstacles. Otherwise, one is doomed to ultimately face the universal fate of all living creatures – death.
5. What is the Point?
Death is the only certain ending of life. We are all going to face it one day. The Graveyard poets dedicated their whole careers to this belief. Perhaps, they also needed therapy. Going to graves and sitting there to write sad poems and elegies seem depressing to me. Anyways, let’s go back to the argument at hand.
So, many will ask – What is the point of life? The very fact that you can wonder about this question is a crucial point in life. You are aware of what you perceive as reality, and what you know is an objective fact. Thus, your question, you wonder, you ask, you search, you find and, you are left with more questions.
Imagine the way a child’s delicate eyes squint as sunlight casts a shadow under their lashes. Yet, the child still tries to open them to see the seemingly new world. That is curiosity in its purest form. It is a beautiful experience to feel the warmth of an otherwise dangerous source of light.
Remember the feeling of holding a cup of your hot coffee or tea? The steam warms your face like a loving and tender touch as you take in the aroma of your favorite beverage.
The feeling of accomplishment and relief after you complete a project within the deadline is amazing. Isn’t it? The overwhelmingly fulfilling sensation of love and joy that you feel when you see your loved ones or your lovely pet is indescribable. Words will never do justice to the feeling at the moment.
Now, imagine sunlight falling on a desk, your cup of coffee or tea on a table; or your pet sitting on your couch. The desk or the table or the couch doesn’t get to feel any of it. You might argue that it doesn’t matter since these are inanimate objects, and they do not care.
Life is a blessing when you appreciate seemingly small moments and things. It is your choice to view it that way. Free will becomes your greatest power when it comes to the way you respond and the way your view the world. This is the point of life.
6. Seeing the Cursed Predestination as a Blessing
If we were immortals, we would have lost interest in waking up for a tomorrow. Vampires sleep in coffins for a reason. You can only appreciate what you have and what you are when you know it is rare.
A lifetime is a single chance, an extremely rare opportunity because we are aware of the fact that we will all die someday. That is the only fate that can not be prevented by a human’s choice or free will. On the other hand, there is not another “you” who thinks, behaves, feels, or perceives exactly like you do. Clique? Yes, but a fact.
So, the individual and their lifetime are fated to be a unique and one-of-a-kind phenomenon. However, how the individual goes through their life is free will, mostly. For instance, who and how you are born is your predestined fate but what you become and how you become is determined by your choices.
A person diagnosed with a fatal disease is more likely to start living as they have never lived before. Most probably, this approach will happen after a period of grieving and accepting the inescapable fate of death, earlier than they thought. We start appreciating life more when we realize that life is temporary and not forever. My apologies to Disney.
7. A Game of Chess
The Queen is considered to be the most powerful piece. The reason is the fact that she has the power to move in various ways that can change the course of the game. Why does she have this power? Chess is a game based on preset rules that assign different powers or ways to move across the board.
Both players use the same pieces under the same rules. They oppose each other under the same conditions. Still, mostly, there is a winner and a loser. Even in the case of a tie, the ultimate number of pawns and their positions differ on both sides.
Life is like a game of chess. A child goes through social conditioning and grows up to be a certain way. They have no control over their surroundings or their origin. However, once they start maturing and growing up, they realize certain aspects and understand themselves more.
This is when they make moves across the board. They make their own choices. Like a game of chess, life has certain circumstances and rules that are predestined or out of your control. This is equivalent to the pre-assigned roles and functions of the pieces. However, there is a winner in this game.
This is why people with similar backgrounds and circumstances end up differently. The choice of free will sculpts the shape and structure of fate or predestination. Predestination is like a chunk of clay. The potter chooses to give it the shape of the container of their choice.
8. People who Rose From a Pawn to the Queen
When a pawn reaches its promotion square, players can exchange it for a queen, considered to be the most powerful piece in a chess game of their respective color. This promotion is called “queening the pawn”.
Listed below are people who became a queen from a pawn because they dared to try: