The Horror that is Fate

Today I want to make a distinction.   

Let me warn you up front, most distinctions are unpopular.  They take general (read undistinguished) beliefs and mess with them.  If you are comfortable with your world, and the system of beliefs you have created to keep yourself at a distance from it, stop now.  Fair warning.   

Oh, and before you get into the “what the hell as this got to do with writing” mode, remember this.  If it is about the world, if it is about people, if it is about life… it is about writing.   

I will start with what may appear to be a harmless everyday phrase:    

Flat Earth image:


“Things always work out for the best.”    

You’ve heard it all your life.  It is comforting.  Almost an aphorism.  Unfortunately this particular phrase has a nasty side-effect… abdication.  Surrender.  It epitomizes the horror that is fate.  What else?  It may define a character (or two) in your latest fiction work.  It might even describe your personal philosophy.   

A character for whom “everything always works out for the best” is one who is at effect of the world.  This is a person who has no say in what happens to him or her, but can only look at what occurs and smile at life when if serves up goodness.  When life serves up ugliness on a platter that same person will bitterly complain about that strangest of life components, another instance of being at effect, luck.   

Do you believe in luck?  Before you get your knickers in a twist, understand that I do not mean chance.  Luck is chance with an attitude.  It is like saying that rain isn’t just something that happens, but something that happens to you,  Luck is another way for your characters to give up on themselves and be tossed about in what must feel like the rapids of life.  Luck might be an interesting partner in one of your stories, but, honestly, keep this in mind.  Persons who rely on luck are not in charge of themselves.   

But what is the alternative, you ask?  Glad you did.   

Another phrase that we’ve heard all of our lives is, “I always make the best of everything that happens.”   

On the surface “…I always make the best…” and “…things always work out…” appear to mean the same thing.   

Hang that one up.  They don’t.  Unlike being at effect in the world, a person who claims to always “…make the best…” is a person at cause.   

Yeah.  That’s it, pretty much.  Being at cause in your life is an extraordinary thing.  It is also a tough thing to do.  We are brought up to be the victims of our world.  We are told that we can only reach so high (oh, yeah, we really are.  We are given the old “you can be and do anything speech, but when we try it is patiently explained to us why we’ve attempted to overreach ourselves.)  We are told that some etherial force has written our every move—in advance—in some great book.  We are set up to go just so far.  We are set up to fail.   

If your character (dare I say it, if you) can make the subtle change between “…everything works out…” and “…I make the best…”, your, erm, character cannot help but succeed, and feel good about doing it.   

Today’s challenge is to write studies of two characters.  Make one who is at effect of the world, and one who is at cause. 

OK, I know I’ve just trodden on a whole mess of toes.  Let me have it.


7 responses to “The Horror that is Fate

  1. Well in my recent life, I have attempted to make the difference, (nrhatch may check this out on a comment on her ‘Spirit…’ by paraphrasing a quote: I got to know the myself so well, that the pain no longer had an effect’. (This is another paraphrase to fit this context. I did however, point out that we had to know the cause. You put up with me, when I searched for ’causes’ or ‘explanations’ on a recent music quote that I found disturbing, not because of the lyrics or song per se, but because of the rather disturbing presentation of a subject matter, which may even have ‘gone past’ the consciousness of people who not know the ‘reason’ were irritated by the blond living it up. I ended up saying, after analysis, that possibly she was living her own pain, by repeating sexual involvements, where as the victim, would possibly stop having sex, but living in anger and hostility. There is an interaction. What is important, I have learned, (for myself I’m talking here) that whenever I have a bad moment, it’s time for me to ‘analyse’, and get to the bottom of what ‘for me’ is causing that ‘feeling’, or negative thought. What might be a negative thought for one person, ironically, is not necessarily a negative thought for another. In other words I try always not to live the ‘effect’ but to get to the cause. This may demand my going into my past, life, or even going through the rationale of something that I think might be a possibility within the future – what course to take on a particular action.
    But I was just thinking these things through this morning, and I came up with an adage of my own, which may or may not be misinterpreted. I have decided that truly, if I am responsible for myself than I am not responsible for another. This in a way could for some people mean the need to give up a presumed control over other people. As we are learning, there can be individual interpretations for any adage, etc. etc. etc. But I believe I have understood, Richard, the context at least in which you are drawing the distinctions between the two ‘sayings’ that you are presenting in today’s post. Thank you Richard.

    • I mean, also, that to be truly responsible for myself, would entail my responsibility, which is limited, that I assume for other people. Neither control nor be controlled. But then, it is ‘most difficult’ to be truly responsible for oneself.
      Love your neighbor, AS YOURSELF, for the love of God, is an adage that appears in different guise, in all major religions. They are quoted in my book (self promotion here again, grin grin).

  2. Pingback: How To Be Happy NOW « Spirit Lights The Way

  3. I agree with you 100%, Rik.

    We are encouraged by society and by religion to assume the role of victim.

    We are encouraged to look outside ourself for validation instead of looking within for strength.

    We are encouraged to mind everyone’s business but our own.

  4. Richard. I believe now I understand what you meant by the ‘vision’ in the video of the music technology, etc. Yes the vision, I agree with you, does work on that level. But (as a woman) I cannot ignore the ‘dark current’ that lies within this presentation, and because it is a woman, that would explain why women more readily pick up on it.
    My use of the word perpetrator was to contrast with the word victim and two alternatives, which each involve the other, but which I distinguished through the two examples of September and Avril Lavigne’s portray in song of respective reactions to a similar sexual experience. I am not contesting your vision here, which I appreciate within it’s context, but merely wish to point out at least in part, the reason for hostility in part in interpretation especially by women.
    I believe in society today, people would rather play the victim, than the perpetrator. (Look up this word in dictionary, everyone, it means to go on with change, not necessarily of a ‘criminal’ context) The woman will live it up as a way to ‘forget’ her poor encounter with a former lover. My question, at the end, was – have either of them ‘really overcome’ the situation, as long as the ‘dichotomy’ which each has, prevails.

  5. go on – without change in their constitution….that is they have not reached the vision and the ability to be the true cause of their actions.
    Sorry. Had to check for errors. Thank you Richard for your patience.

  6. Ricky,
    Excellent post and very thought-provoking.
    Thanks for writing it.

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