I was trying to think of how to title this post, and it’s just a pain. I’ve always been bad at writing titles for the purpose of getting attention (my English and journalism teachers knew this). I like titling things descriptively (my science teachers know this). I don’t know why. Anyway, I’m thinking about destiny. Fate. Predestination. Darma. “Meant to be.” I still don’t know how much I believe in it.
Destiny can be somewhat of a comforting idea, and I think it’s really powerful in movies and books. Frodo was destined to be the ring bearer, for example. It wouldn’t be as interesting if Frodo just sort of happened to end up taking the ring to Mordor. It’s not just a matter of interest though, but also a matter of making things believable. How did Frodo overcome all the odds to get that damned ring to Mt. Doom? Destiny. Because we hate to believe in chance, don’t we?
I’m not really trying to talk about Lord of the Rings though, and I’m not sure if Tolkien really thought of Frodo as being fated to carry the ring or not. It’s beside the point, but maybe I will return to it after I’ve graduated college and finally had time to reread the LOTR.
I’ve been thinking about destiny, fate, etc., and also the Christian idea of a calling. I think there are certainly general callings. For instance, if you’ve come to believe in Christ, you’ve been called to do certain things: love your neighbor, seek peace, praise God, look forward to the world to come. But people talk a lot about specific callings, most often having to do with occupations and/or ministries. They feel called to become a doctor or a priest or a teacher. They feel called to move somewhere to start a new church group. Sometimes the conversation then turns fuzzy. If God calls me to be a teacher, say, does that mean I was destined to be a teacher all along? If God says today that I am to be a teacher, does that mean he had always planned on saying that?
Partly this goes back to the clockmaker God debate, in my mind. Is God intimately, unceasingly involved in everything that’s going on in the world? Is he always putting just the right person in just the right spot and just the right time for infinitely many specific purposes? Or did he set it in motion, this gloriously intricate universe, already knowing everything that would happen? Either of these seem to suggest fate–but now I am being sloppy. Can the universe have a fate, but each individual planet not? Can the human race have a fate, but each individual human not? Can the Jewish people have a fate, but not each Jewish person?
I believe God has a plan, although I can’t honestly say from the top of my head what I base this belief on. I can’t think of any words from the bible that told me this, although maybe there are some, and they got the idea across without me remembering how. It’s not necessarily a logical conclusion either. I believe it though, at the moment. What I am unsure of is whether God has a plan for me. Did he really make me to do some specific thing? Or did he make me just because, and it doesn’t matter what I do, but rather how I do it?
Years ago, I read the Bhagavad Gita, an Indian scripture I am not qualified to analyze too deeply. Anyway, it partly deals with duty, and something called dharma, which has to do with what I’m talking about. One of the things I recall from the reading was the idea that a person can have a duty that he must perform, and that he must perform it, even if he had a greater talent for something else. I don’t remember if the person’s own desire was discussed. While I know there are many interpretations of this Indian work, and while it is not something I believe was inspired by God (like the Gospels, for example), I have always been open to different ways of thinking… and really, to different ways of asking. Many people I have talked to seem to think that a person’s “natural aptitude” or simply their interest in something is a good clue for that person toward what he or she should pursue seriously. But when I think of Arjuna’s story (the Gita), I’m not so sure this is a logical approach.
Firstly, say I have an aptitude for catching fish. I’m good at it. Am I good at it because God made me to be good at it? Or am I simply good at it because I grew up a poor fisherman’s daughter? Perhaps I would be just as apt at anything if I were experienced with it.
Next, say I am interested in journalism (which I actually was at one point). I’m so interested in it. I’ve studied it. I’ve practiced it. This seems problematic too because there are at least three things that are likely to happen: a) I get burnt out, b) I simply change over time and fall in love with something else (especially possible with something like journalism in which your job is really to learn about other things), or c) I always love it, but never am especially good at it.
None of these thoughts are getting me any closer to an answer though. Am I meant to do something?
I don’t know. It doesn’t bother me much, really, for all the writing I do on it. I just wish I had an opinion, but I really don’t. I could argue yea or nay. Watching Interstellar twice made me think of it. Studying physics makes me think of it. Being a Christian makes me think of it. I’m convinced that God created, made, and formed us. I’m even convinced of salvation through Christ, and the resurrection. But what about in between?
The other day I was thinking about where I might be someday. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a professional equestrienne for a while. Of course. Then, for a long time, I was really interested in genetics, and I was sure that’s what I’d get into. I remember reading about the Human Genome Project, back when it was still years from completion. Other things caught my interest. I pursued one of them, the Navy, and even today, I’m not sure I was right to end that pursuit. One of the possibilities I still seriously consider is going back on active duty (though hopefully as an officer). Now I study physics. I’ve always been interested in it. I’ve loved math ever since I took my first trigonometry class. Did I ever see myself in this position though? Did I ever see myself as a physicist? Do I now? Well, I can.
The other day when I was thinking of this, I got a slight sense that I’m not sure I’ve felt before… if I have, it was a long time ago. I got this slight sense that, “I was doing this before.”
As I said before, destiny is sort of a comforting idea, but I’m still not sure I buy it. I’m not having an identity crisis or anything. I don’t think I tie too much of my identity into what I do, but maybe it would be easier if I did. If you’d asked me a couple of years ago what I wanted to do, I’d say I wanted to make films. You know, I still do, too. But I want to do a lot of things, and I want to study a lot of things. I already discussed how it can be problematic to just do things you like to do.
For now I am following curiosity and a little practicality. I am curious about many things, but I am studying in school the subject I think I have the least ability to learn by myself. I mean, I am curious about art history, but it is relatively easy to research it without a lot of help. Physics on the other hand?