The tricky thing about destiny, or fate in general, is that it’s not as set-in-stone as its advocates might portray it. Rather, it’s more of a living web. Think of an action as pitching a stone against a pane of glass, thin enough to crack but too thick to shatter. From the point of impact, a webbing of cracks spreads, new ones branching off at each ring. If the point of impact is the action taken, the points at the end of the cracks are possible tertiary consequences thereof. Only one can be the destination.
To complicate things further, we make scores of seemingly inconsequential decisions every day. For each of these, we throw another rock at the glass, the size and force depending on the weight of the action (or inaction as the case may be), aiming for different points in the existing webbing of cracks. Now, we have a whole new set of possibilities, including potential consequences of every possible combination of decisions.
Each action and decision we take and make will have a predetermined immediate result, depending on a number of factors. These include, but of course aren’t limited to, time, location, attitude, overall health and well-being, other people involved, financial concerns and even the weather. Before we decide to act, the result can reasonably be predicted based on the most prevalent of these factors, giving the illusion of inevitable destiny. Some of these things, we can control, and others we can work around, though many situations will present with inevitability in certain regards. Thus, there is the possibility of controlling our destiny to a certain extent.
“A wise man once said: ‘Know thyself.’ And that man’s name… was Tater Nuts.” – Danny Masterson (Steven Hyde “That 70s Show”)
Tubers and legumes aside, this is the key to controlling your destiny, knowing yourself. Most of us are far less self-aware than we’d like to believe or even accept, and this costs us dearly with unforeseen consequences. We must know not only our strengths, but also our limits. We must know not only our weaknesses, but our ability to work through them. We must know not only what we lack, but how we might acquire it or cope otherwise. We must know not only what we have, but how it came to be and might be lost.
Through self-awareness, we can know how well our execution of a decision will fare with ourselves based on external criteria. Thus, we can anticipate the immediate outcome and, if need be, change our approach and our timing accordingly. By changing our path, we change our destination.
Beyond this lies empathy. We must know not only ourselves, but those around us as well. By empathizing with and relating to others, no matter how different they may be from ourselves, we can better gauge how they’ll take to decisions which impact them. Their reactions will in turn affect us, thus we must anticipate this impending cycle of actions and consequences, spreading from a loop to a spherical lattice.
To know the ultimate outcome of any one action would be humanly impossible, as thousands of other minute decisions along the way may have an additional impact. However, through self-awareness and empathy, we can reasonably presume the immediate result and change our course of action ahead of time. The outcome is unchangeable; what would come to pass at a certain time and place would still have occurred then and there, regardless of the approach we end up choosing. But we can change the path and thus indirectly choose which result comes to pass – or atleast avoid more dire outcomes – so long as we have the insight necessary for the foresight.