Hello Dear Ones! You’ve chosen to come to this page today. May you be glad of your choice to read this concept that I trust will inspire, delight, and maybe even challenge you.
Here’s the quote that Mike and I are using as our He Says/She Says topic this week:
” …but then he had to be there. It was part of his fate, too. I am not exactly suggesting that Bobby Thompson hit that winning home run [1951 Dodgers vs Giants; New York Polo Grounds;a Giants victory that day] because my father was there or implying that he wouldn’t have hit it if my father had not been there. All I’m saying is that my father was there and Bobby Thompson was there and the home run was hit and those things couldn’t have been otherwise.”
– The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Remember back a few years? Not as far back as 1951 – most of you weren’t even born then. Back to the 1980s. There was a Canadian TV show – one of those popular family-style sitcoms – called the Alan Thicke Show, starring, naturally, Alan Thicke. His role was as a father and a psychologist who worked from home. His mid-teen TV son had to stay home from school this one particular day. The father and son had a brief yet, to me, memorable conversation about a particular television show the young man was watching. The son was amazed that the TV station could know that he was at home that particular weekday afternoon. They were airing one of his very favourite shows at a time when he would normally be in school.
In their respective roles, the father was trying to help his son realize that the world didn’t revolve around the boy. As both father and psychologist, he was unsuccessful in his attempt to convince him. The boy was not going to believe in a fixed reality – where a TV show always aired at the same time every day when the boy was not home to see and enjoy it. That just didn’t make sense! The afternoon to him was magical because somehow, someone, somewhere, for some wonderfully thoughtful reason was aware that he was home and aired the very shows he knew the boy would enjoy. No amount of logic or explanantion would change the boy’s belief.
Our topic today is: Destiny or Choice – A Matter of Beliefs? If you know me well, or if you’ve read a few of my blog posts over the past several months, you may feel you likely know where I stand on this issue. Yet I ask that you stay with me here and watch my reasoning unfold with a unique example from personal experience that led me to my current stand.
We’ll go back further still to 1966. I’m 18 years old, living away from home in a one room apartment in the downtown core above a pizza parlour. The washroom down the hall I share with three other women I eventually learn are prostitutes. My rent is a modest $54 a month that, on my salary as a long distance operator with the local phone company, I can just barely afford. My working hours vary day to day and week to week – most of my shifts were split. My body never got used to routine sleeping and with the comings and goings of the ‘friends’ of my immediate neighbours, the place wasn’t exactly quiet. So I’d sit up till my body was exhausted – often till 2 or 3 a.m. I’d drink beer and smoke cigarettes and play solitaire. I was away from my loving family and lonely. I had a boyfriend I saw a few times a week. He lived at home with his parents and brothers while he attended his final year at high school. Can you see where this type of life was leading me? I wasn’t a bad kid. I was merely innocent, confused and gullible – a typical teen with no immediate direction or purpose to my life.
I’d only been in this place for a month when I had the thought to go visit my parents and my three younger siblings who lived across town. My sisters and brother would be home as it was summer and there was no school. I dropped in to say hello. Well, it seems they’d had quite the week. A musical group from the U.S.A. had come to our fair city to entertain and my parents had billoted a few of the cast members in the downstairs granny flat. Apparently the very day I showed up was to be their last day here. My brother was downtown with them when I arrived at the house. He was auditioning to become part of their show for the rest of the summer – until he had to be back to attend high school. Would I go to pick him up? “It would save me a great deal of time if you would, dear!” mother sweetly suggested.
So I go. I find them in the auditorium. Hard not to. The auditioning voices – some good, some awful – could be heard out in the parking lot. I followed the music. Lots happening. My brother has not had his audition and interview yet. So I look around. One of the cast members is talking with a group of young people about my own age. I saunter about looking bored, yet keenly interested in what I hear him saying. In a very thick Tennessee accent the tall man is enthusiastically sharing his reasons for being with this group – its positive impact on him and on the youth of the world. I knew nothing of this group, had never heard them sing or listened to any of the lyrics that they wrote themselves, yet I was sold!
A few weeks later while my brother was off to parts unknown with this group – yes, he made the cut – my mother calls me at work. I have no telephone in my place. She saves up her news for my weekly visits. For my mother to phone me at work and for my boss to pull me off the switchboard, I feared that one of my family were dead or dying. Fortunately that was not the case. Apparently my brother had telephoned for me. It was urgent, he said, that I get to Canadian Forces Base Trenton by the next day. That’s where this musical group were entertaining this particular week. It seems they really liked him and since he and I had been singing on stage together for over four years now and since my brother was leaving them in a few weeks to return to school they thought to replace him with me. Could I join him? My mother told him YES.
So I went back to the office and quit my job effective immediately. I gave notice on my apartment having already paid for that entire month. I called my boyfriend to tell him I was leaving – poor guy, he never saw that one coming. I was on the bus to Trenton the very next morning. I was picked up at the bus station by a different bus – for just me. The driver was the same fellow from Tennessee that had impressed me so much. He was one of the lead singers and a trumpet player in the group. He and I chatted during the trip. Well, he talked and I listened.
My brother, I find, is astonished that I have arrived with so much luggage. What he told my mother and what she heard and shared with me, and my interpretation of it all were nowhere near alike. Not even in the same ballpark.
I had not been accepted as his replacement, I was merely being given a chance at an audition. I was to have that audition that evening after dinner and then return back home to await a call if accepted. Oh, boy.
However, there is more. It seems the upper echelon were in an unexpected meeting and were sorry they’d be unable to interview me that evening. Could I stay over? They’d provide me a place to sleep in one of the barrack bunks in the women’s quarters and I could interview with them tomorrow.
To make a long story a wee bit shorter, I ended up travelling with the international music group Up With People for one entire year. I never did get that interview and audition!
Destiny or choice? What choice did I have? I could have said NO anywhere along the route – from not accepting my brother’s invitation, to deciding I wasn’t willing to give up my job and income, to leaving my unique apartment resulting in giving up smoking, drinking and loneliness overnight. Going with the flow of it all was my choice.
Was it destiny? To me destiny means that a power outside of myself knew me better than I did and was powerful enough to control my brother’s action to call, my mother’s misunderstanding of his comments, and my illogical and irrational behaviour resulting in my giving up everything I had, owned and thought in order to go somewhere I had never been, with people I didn’t know, to travel out of country singing songs written by others about topics to which I was totally oblivious.
Some would say I was guided through inspiration and the blessings of God, the Universe, Source, All That Is to change my wicked ways and step onto a clean, wholesome path – for that’s what Up With People was in 1966 and till it ended its 25 year reign in some of the most troubled parts of the world – clean, wholesome and powerfully inspirational.
My life has never been the same since I took that courageous step. I am truly gratedful to this day that my life took the turn it did. I am an immensely better person for the experiences of that one year.
Destiny? Fate? To me these words mean that the unfolding of life is predetermined, laid out like a script to be followed, the direction of the play already known. Sure, the director of the play may make a change or two along the way to liven up the action, but in that scenario I’d be the actor, not the director.
When I think back to those years (and I do often as it was a magical time) the synchronicity of each of the events – the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that became my new life – couldn’t have been predicted, planned or acted out from any pre-written script. So NO, I don’t think it was destiny. It was magic and there was amazing marvel every step of the way.
Yet choice? Did I have a choice? At the time I didn’t consider anything that I was doing as a choice. I was driven. Something inside me just knew this was right – crazy and weird – yet right! My life was a mess and somewhere within myself I had been crying out for help. This was an answer to that silent request. When the chance came, in as odd a fashion as it did, I lept at the chance for change. Was it desperation or inspiration? Was it choice? Or, like a magnet, was I inexplicably drawn to an opposing force – something totally contradictory to what was familiar and predictable? Even as sad as my life had become at that point, it was familiar.
Again, did I have a choice? You could argue that I certainly did have a choice. I could have stayed put. Something might have inspired me down the road – something with a little less passion and magic. Less enticing. I may have gone that road a week, a month, a year later. Maybe. Yet on that day I was faced with a fork in the road of my life. Amazingly I didn’t see the fact that there was an option. I didn’t see two paths of choice. I saw only where I had come from, and where it was leading. It was leading into a jungle. Here was a bright shiny new road that had just been freshly paved. I took that first step upon it and made it my own. What a feeling! That year unfolded for me as amazing stories tend to unfold – with magic and marvel, twists and turns and with ideal endings – at least mine had such a ending. Choice? What choice? If I had to say I made one, I’d say I chose between stagnation and freedom.
So we’re back to destiny or fate. Here’s where we get into philosophical and religious discussions of belief. If we, from my perspective, believe in choice – then we have choices/options appear to us from which to choose. If we believe in destiny and fate, then our world and our experiences unfold as though guided by someone or something outside of ourselves. Yet is there a third option? Free will. The will to follow, the will to choose, the will to change and grow? Each step of our lives, each experience, each opportunity we have the option to follow, to lead or to step out on our own for the sake of the journey. That day I stepped out.
Today, most of the choices I make are based on the joy of the journey. What can I learn? How can I grow within myself? What more can I experience and cherish? What new opportunity will have me going *WoW*!
I am in my early sixties now and there is part of me still 18 years old – on the road to new and uncharted territory, journeys yet to be unveiled, talents still to be revealed, people I’m soon to meet, situations to treasure and from which to learn and grow. I want to see, touch, taste, smell and hear all the powerful and positive aspects of life.
Destiny? No way. Choice? Definitely. A matter of belief? Naturally. If I didn’t believe it I wouldn’t see it. There would be no crossroad appearing – the path would remain singular and directing my step. Yet sometimes those beliefs are known only to my Inner Self – at the core level of my being. It was my Inner Self who believed in my potential back in 1966 and led me to the choices I made. My Inner Self teamed up with the mystical magic of a Universe conspiring to draw all the pieces of the puzzle together to form an incredible future for me and all at my own request.
I’ve chosen often over the years to fly above the path, to see not merely from the perspective of the mouse but from the height of the eagle (Jumping Mouse story from Hyemeyohsts Storm’s book Seven Arrows). And *WoW*! Life is grand from here.
In Light and Laughter,
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