I don’t often go too deep into the spiritual side of things on here. Sure, I’ll mention that I’m more spiritual than religious, and I have probably more often than once mentioned how I felt like I’d stepped off my path and was looking for a “sign” to help me get back onto it, but only once have I gone seriously into my religious/spiritual beliefs.
Today I want to revisit some of the things I spoke about in the post about Predestination…
First of all, that post was inspired by the movie Predestination and I still whole-heartedly believe that if you haven’t seen that movie, you really should! It is the biggest mind-fuck movie I’ve ever seen, plus it pretty much proves (at least in the case of one character) that some things are predestined to happen. It is a Science Fiction movie, but it has a very interesting love story, and (minus the jumping through time bit) feels like it could be a slice-of-life movie in spots, as one character gives us his really bizarre life story about growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.
Basically I’m trying to tell you that I think even people who aren’t fans of Science Fiction could enjoy this one… Then again, I’ve been wrong on that particular topic before.
For me, this movie is most important because it makes me wonder about my own purpose.
Without giving too many details away, a big part of the movie is finding out why some of the really horrific things that happen to our main character are necessary for him to achieve his purpose, which throws him into this strange paradoxical time loop. If you want a better (spoiler filled) explanation, complete with a visual timeline, I happened across one here.
So, while the main character eventually figures out his ultimate purpose, as convoluted and timey-wimey as it is, it makes me wonder, is it possible for a person to figure out their purpose? Or do we really have one? And if we have one, does figuring it out actually make things easier or harder for us?
These things are on my mind today, as I sit at my diner (taking up a valuable seat during the busiest day of business for them), and stare out at the disturbingly grey clouds that seem to have permanently taken up residence over Houston. They are on my mind because I had started a discourse with someone who found me through my blog, and there were so many reasons why our conversation felt like more than just happenstance, and yet he doesn’t believe in fate or the idea of a purpose…
In fact, as I told you before, he feels that my belief in a purpose (and, he assumed, a God) is a sign of my own insecurities, and thus holds me back or limits me in some way.
I suppose I can admit that my need for signs makes me hesitate more than I should sometimes. On the other hand, sometimes that hesitation allows me to make a better decision than what I had originally planned!
For instance, I told you I’d started an intellectual discourse with this gentleman, and that he found me through this blog, but our discourse had a very interesting effect on the direction of my future, though I changed my mind after some hesitation.
If you get really curious about how I met him, you can find how things began in some of the comments of my older (and specifically my most popular) post…
I like it when people like my brain! Although not when they decide my brain isn’t enough to keep me around… I’m thinking about the terrible things the Artist said when he disappeared out of my life the first time around.
But this guy isn’t like the Artist, at least I don’t think he is. Hell, I’m not 100% certain what it is he wants from me just yet, so he may very well be like the Artist, though I doubt it…
What I do know is that it was really fun emailing with him and poring through his lengthy responses that read like something out of an Ayn Rand novel (obviously a big plus in my book!). It was so fun that I began thinking about a major move to his general part of the country.
After all, I have friends nearby, so I could have moved and it would have been a new adventure in the World of Liz.
My life was in a state of non-movement. As of that moment, I didn’t have plans for a job for next school year, I didn’t have a set plan for housing past June, and I certainly didn’t have any lovers lining up to woo me (the closest thing to a lover has been my reconnection with the Boy, but I don’t think either of us wants that to actually go in a romance direction… at least I don’t think so). So this guy’s timing seemed very close to a sign.
In fact, let’s call him Mr. West Coast, since I was considering moving there due to his beguiling correspondences.
This is something that is a little hard to explain to people who don’t understand the concept of signs… The Boy and I discussed it, and he seemed particularly perplexed that I’d move to a whole new part of the country for a guy I’d never met. But see, that’s the misconception. If I had chosen to move (which I since have decided not to do), it wouldn’t have been for Mr. West Coast, but rather because of Mr. West Coast.
It’s a very fine distinction.
Moving for him would have meant that I was reasonably assured that a relationship was possible and would be moving in order to make a relationship happen. My decisions would have been decided with him in mind, so things like location and job would have been decided based on how close it put me to Mr. West Coast and how the new job would mesh with his schedule.
Moving because of him means that he intrigues me enough, and some of the things he has said about his part of the world intrigue me enough, to entice me to make a change in my situation that places me in his general area, but not in order to initiate a romantic situation.
For one thing, as I said, I don’t know what he wants from me. For another, I don’t know what, if anything, I want from him. And most importantly, as I explained to the Boy, I’ve learned that moving for someone, anyone, other than yourself never ends well! Especially if you’ve known the person for less than, I don’t know, a year.
I’ve known Mr. West Coast for less than a month, so yeah… not moving for him.
But, it gave me something fun to think about for a minute. It helped me to realize that I had to stop hesitating and start making some decisions. This school year is almost up, and I haven’t cemented anything for next year, or at least I hadn’t when the Boy and I discussed my possibly moving across country.
Furthermore, Mr. West Coast’s insistence that I had to accept that we are just temporarily on this plane of existence and must make our own destiny/legacy, helped me to realize that, while a move would be fun, I need to be more solid in my…well everything!… before I start uprooting myself in the hopes of a new adventure.
I had lost sight of my purpose, as I have so often these last few years. My desire to find a partner whom I can lean on has blinded me to the fact that I, and I alone, am responsible for whether or not I achieve my destiny, whether I choose said destiny or it’s chosen by a higher power.
Side note: a major factor in my decision NOT to move to the West Coast was because it would put me back to square one in my teaching journey, and there’s no doubt that education is part of my purpose.
Which brings us back to the question of this mystical purpose: Where does it come from?
I remember reading somewhere (though for the life of me I don’t remember where) that your success is a combination of your talent and your “want to.” As in if you have the talent to be a basketball super star, but you have no desire to do that, you will not be successful. Similarly, if you want to be the next Van Gogh, but you have absolutely no talent, there is no amount of practice that will make you succeed.
In The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, one of the characters faces this very thing: Peter Keating spends a good portion of the book hating the protagonist, one Howard Roark, and yet, he also values Roark’s opinions because, whether he’ll admit it to anyone else, he respects Roark as the better architect and person. Keating, towards the end of the book, after he’s been emotionally, intellectually, and professionally broken, brings some of his artwork to Howard Roark and asks his opinion. Roark tells him it’s too late, in essence he let his talent wither by choosing wrong.
In my opinion, this is a subtle suggestion that we do have a fate, a place in the world where our talents, personality, and desires all coalesce to make us happy and successful. Keating went against his nature (at the behest of his mother and Ellsworth Toohey, the villain) and it destroyed him.
Some of the other characters have similar issues, where their priorities are just a little out of sync with their true desires and/or talent. Whereas Howard Roark, our hero, goes through life striving for and being the best, because he has done the work/research to be the best at the thing he is both passionate about and has an innate talent for, and he makes no apologies for being the best, not even when he very rudely tells people that they are wrong…
(Do you understand why I date such jerks sometimes, now?)
Anyway, back to Keating…
So here is Ayn Rand, an atheist, an anarcho-capitalist, the founder of Objectivism, and thus the mother of Libertarianism and the Tea Party, writing characters that, if they were to follow the example of our hero, would fit together like puzzle pieces, each in his own place and doing his own job to the best of his ability, yet they can choose wrong…
How is this NOT an example of predestination?
Granted, she is the author, and thus the God of that world, but one of the messages of her ideology/philosophy of Objectivism is that if we follow logic, then we have to accept that there is no God and thus no divine plan…
Seems incongruous to me: If there is no divine plan of any sort, how can people choose the wrong destiny as Peter Keating did?
So I submit that we do have purpose! It may be great or it may be small, but there is a place for everyone, and going against your purpose, your very nature, can be your undoing.
I think we all fit together like the individual strands of a tapestry. When we achieve our purpose and push to be the best at our individual purpose, then the image created is beautiful. We fit together in the lives of those around us, and maybe we have multiple purposes: our great purpose based on our greatest talents and desires balanced perfectly, and then our purposes in the lives of those around us.
If this is so, then Mr. West Coast’s main purpose was to help me see that I was waiting around for someone to tell me what to do so that I could not fail.
Mr. West Coast told me he also felt I had a fear of failure, and he wasn’t wrong about that at least. I do have a fear of failure, and I often will not play if I’m not reasonably certain that I can win. I am afraid that I’m not any good because I have people telling me that my way isn’t the best… because it isn’t the norm. His questions about my insecurities and my idealism forced me to speak out and defend myself.
And though I haven’t sent him the email that explains to him just precisely why he shouldn’t speak about education (since it does not work like the business world), the reasons I gave him proved to myself that I was good at what I do, or at least I could be if I stopped listening to all the naysayers, and started following my intuition/idealism (though Mr. West Coast thinks my idealism is part of the problem… I don’t agree).
It also helped me to finally make a decision.
A decision that has been reinforced by some synchronistic events of late. Like just yesterday, I went to a ladies’ brunch with some friends I met through the Boy, which turned into a gaming night, and one of the ladies’ husband (and a good friend of the Boy) was willing to connect me with some people in a wonderful school in a good district, near where I had finally decided to move.
Believe in signs, or don’t, but for now, that’s proof enough for me.