This article is a part of my OOMF series, where I revisit old articles from my past blogs relating to travel and self-improvement, and republish them here to be a resource for inspiration. This article was written in 2012 just as I was coming out of a deep and dark depression and into a belief in myself and my dreams. It touches upon the topic of Fate in a broad sense in different mediums and ideas, and how it ruled my life for a long time.
FATE IS INESCAPABLE //
“Wyrd bið ful aræd” or translated to fate is inexorable.
Wait, Fate is inexorable, or inescapable? What kind of crap is that?
So you mean that I am bound to one path which is spun by some baloney idea that the three Norns or three Fates; some mythical haggard bitches, they play games with other people’s lives and decide our outcome? All the while they (or maybe in incarnation of some god from some religion) sit under a tree and caress out life line with scissors and grin through a toothless mouth at the joy of our misfortunes? That everything I do, and you do, is in the hands of another. That everything is predetermined?
Or some airy, wispy, invisible entity that takes away your free will and removes all reason to live?
Sounds like a bunch of rubbish to me.
I had come to another turning point in my life in 2013, a somewhat unbelievable act of me going to Southeast Asia for a year. It’s no wonder why this was on my mind at the time. I say unbelievable because I struggled then to grasp the concept of taking control of my life. And to believe that I had full control.
The quote, “Wyrd bið ful aræd” comes from Old English literature, or in a form in the epic Beowulf, which basically describes the weird sisters/three norns/three witches having control over everyones lives. Every moment has been decided already, and at any moment they can cut your life string and end your tale.
Fate was quite the popular excuse in ye olde times…and still to this day as well.
“Wyrd bið ful aræd” is also used as an overarching theme in the Saxon Tales by my all time favorite author Bernard Cornwell. The stories follow a soldier in the days before England was a united country, just a shattered collection of warriors from far off lands vying for control of Britain. The protagonist, Uhtred, was captured as a young boy and raised by the Danes invading, but always owing service to the Saxon King Alfred for some reason or another as he became a warrior.
You may have seen this in the new BBC series “The Last Kindom” based on the books.
There is a constant struggle in his mind of which side he would rather be on, and even though he is the fiercest warrior in Britain, he constantly allows himself to be at the will of the fates.
When something goes wrong, it is because the Fates decided it. If something is iffy, he waits for a sign to see where the Fates take him. Death was always on all sides of him, and though he wields the sword, someone else decides if he lives or dies.
So what does the fate mumbo-jumbo have to do with travel? A lot actually. For me at least.
ONCE UPON A REAL TIME IN MY LIFE //
Once upon a time there was a bright blue-eyed, blonde haired boy with an imagination that took him to the ends of the Universe. To ancient lands full of mythical creatures. To fantastical places full of spectacular things. To places unlike his reality.
But he was told he used his imagination too much, that it was all fake. That his dreams were nonsense and he needed to stop living in the clouds.
That boy was me, but those fantasies were my escape from the real world.
A world where my drunken father beat my mother, where their divorce tried testing my loyalties for one side or the other just like Uhtred, and ultimately where death’s omnipresence was always in front of me as drugs would lead to her suicide and unhealthiness would lead to his passing.
It seemed Fate had decided I would follow in my father’s footsteps; working a labor job into an alcohol saturated unhappiness, break my back for the rest of my life for a paycheck, and dying when the Fates decided it was my time.
My parents were so damn charismatic and good, but they believed that what they had is what they got, and that there was no changing it. Living in this kind of state, no matter how strong you are, can have tragic consequences.
And I did let Fate rule me for a long time.
Now that doesn’t sound too great does it?
It’s not like they were always unhappy. My dad destroyed his body working to support us, and my mother encouraged my aspirations. I believe they loved us dearly. But the effects of not living their ultimate dreams led to drinking, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and working in jobs to get by. And a slow collapse into chaos and violence and heartbreak.
How was I able to step foot onto foreign soil for the first time when none of my family had ever left the United States? This is where a little bit of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” comes in as I think back in retrospect what led me to that very moment.
MY CURIOUS CASE //
I smiled. It was as though I was like Dorothy and had been transported to OZ, except I was a man, I was wearing bright red chucks, and I was in New Zealand. I took my first step onto foreign soil and I felt the difference. Getting onto the plane had been the scariest moment in my life, but I did it.
Not a difference in the world, but in me.
How did I get here? Well, I had to first take a step onto the plane. To take the step on the plane, I had to have decided that I wanted to travel, buy the ticket, and get the first passport ever in my family history.
LET’S WORK BACKWARDS //
If I hadn’t been at my lowest of lows since the death of my father after being dumped by a girl I thought I loved for making too many excuses about my problems, and for being fired from a job I was always late to and made excuses about because I was so unhappy that I didn’t want to wake in the morning, I may have never met Wesley again.
If I hadn’t gotten the job at another restaurant with an old school mate, Wes, who had joined up in a program called BUNAC to travel to New Zealand for a year, then that travel seed may have never been planted in my head.
If I hadn’t gotten a job at Apple, I may have not been able to save up for a trip abroad when the idea was at an unbelievable infancy, and I may have never been able to prove to the bank I had enough money to go because I wasn’t at the restaurant anymore where I drank away my sorrows.
If I hadn’t stumbled upon certain travel blogs which suddenly struck a chord in me, and if I had never become obsessed with travel blogs afterwards, I may have never decided to get my passport for the hell of it just to toy with the idea of traveling.
If I hadn’t gotten my passport, then I probably never would have looked into the student program BUNAC in New Zealand, and I would have no prospect to save money for.
If I hadn’t become obsessed with travel because of this, I may have not saved up the money to purchase my ticket on a whim, and I may have not used BUNAC to instill a confidence in me about traveling for the first time.
If I hadn’t had the courage to quit my beloved job and sell all of the possessions I had accumulated over the years to fill a void, I wouldn’t have been able to let go of my past. I wouldn’t have stopped by my parents grave and said goodbye with a full backpack.
If I hadn’t had the strength to still go on the trip after being disowned by my brother for wanting to travel the world, then I would have never boarded that cross-country train to Los Angeles, and I wouldn’t have gone to the airport.
If I hadn’t decided to take a deep breath, trust my heart, and give the cute Kiwi flight attendant my ticket, then I would have never taken that step onto the plane, which lead me to take that first step onto foreign soil.
There is a lot of “IF” in there, and if I believed in Fate then I would have never made the decision to go.
NO MORE IFS ABOUT IT //
I could spend hours going all the way back further than I did to figure out how the path to that moment was created.
I don’t live by IF anymore, I live for today. That day I boarded the plane, I decided to take my life out of the hands of another; be it society or the fates, and start living. A path only exists behind me because I have walked it. Ahead of me is unknown open road, open possibilities, and open choices made by me.
Ahead of me was Southeast Asia at the time, and it is unbelievable no more. I believe it happened because I made it happen. I believe in the power of myself.
Some say fate is inexorable, inescapable, and everything has been mapped out from beginning to end. But just like all maps; changes are made, new places are discovered, and people go where nobody has gone before. I see myself in that light. I changed my course, I discovered a new light in myself that I never thought could exist. I follow my own path now. I control my fate now. And it is to explore the far reaches of my own self, and the world.
But could it have been fate that led me to this moment as well? No.
To me, Fate is linear just like the life string the mythical Norns fondle and toy with. Your life is then controlled by somebody else for their vanity. It is a personal excuse to explain mishaps, disadvantages, and personal defeats. To blame something or someone else for shortcomings instead of yourself. Fate is a weakness in us all, that pull to live a safe life, a life where we can see the path ahead and know what to expect.
Would you rather have an exciting and unpredictable life with an unknown path, or live the same day for the rest of your life in a perceived safety and predictable path?
I know what I choose.
So to you all, I say FUCK FATE and go! Take hold of life by the horns and hang on, because it’ll be one helluva ride!
“Sometimes we’re on a collision course, and we just don’t know it.Whether it’s by accident, or by design, there’s not a thing we can do about it.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE // If you believe in Fate in the religious sense, I mean no disrespect to that at all. These are my own beliefs, my own mentality, and the Fate I speak of is the self-disposed acceptance that you have no power over your own life.