“To be born is to be chosen.”—John O’Donohue
Let me start by declaring my belief that I am destined to write. I also believe that my stories are destined. How can they not be, if I was destined to tell them?
I wanted to say that right at the top. If reading it made you roll your eyes, I thought I’d offer the chance to choose to pass on this post. Because even if I believe in destiny, I’m no fatalist. I still firmly believe in freedom of choice.
Does that sound contradictory? Hmmm, maybe you do want to read on.
Guided by Choice:
“Though we are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny, what we put into it is ours.”—Dag Hammarskjold
I think it’s true, that much of destiny is circumstance—our frame of destiny. In regard to O’Donohue’s quote at the top of the essay, imagine how much different your life would be even if you’d been born to the family next door. And yet, I believe destiny is laden with choice, as well.
I’ve read a lot on the subject of authorial voice lately, including Jo Eberhardt’s great post here on WU, in which she speaks of the role our perspectives play in our voices. Considering the infinite variations on the frames of our circumstance, it’s difficult to argue that each of us has a unique perspective. Which reinforces the notion that only we can tell our stories.
I recently coupled that line of thought with the realization that I’ve always had a powerful impulse to write lurking deep inside me. And it seems I’m not alone—I hear again and again how writers simply could not resist writing. If you’re prone to such notions, the compulsion so many of us feel paired with the uniqueness we invariably share through story can almost feel like a divine conspiracy. Or, if you prefer a more scientific explanation, perhaps the coupling lies at the very crux of our survival and thriving as a species. Or perhaps you’ve rolled your eyes again.
It’s funny though, in looking back on my life, how long I did resist the impulse. Especially considering how young I was when decided I would write. So many of my subsequent choices seemed to lead me away from actually writing. But some aspect of all of those choices—like course-corrections from the Universe—continued to lead me back to storytelling. Choices such as my curriculum selections in school, my vocational decisions, and even recognizing, pursuing, and marrying my soul-mate, are all woven into my work, and integral to my writing destiny. What I’ve put into the frame is undeniably mine.
“Riddle of destiny, who can show / What thy short visit meant, or know / What thy errand here below?”—Charles Lamb
As I said above, a part of Hammarskjold’s frame of destiny is the family we’re born into. And if each of us has a destiny, one that is dependent on our choices, that destiny must certainly influence and be influenced by the destinies of others in our lives—particularly by the destinies of those we love.
I hadn’t really intended to write publicly about this, but since she led me to the topic, it seems destined. [Read more…]