I’ve always been a little confused by the concepts of fate and destiny, yet I do have some sense of the distinction between them and, more importantly, how they apply to our lives. To me, fate is the circumstance into which we’re born and perhaps where we end up if we don’t make conscious choices to be more. Destiny, on the other hand, is what we’re meant to be. I think most of us can tell when we’re falling short of our calling. Sometimes I look at my life and think of the all-too-often evaluation that appeared on my report card in elementary school. Needs Improvement
Still, the promise of fulfilling our destiny is one thing that drives us, that gets us up each morning. Sometimes we hear it calling our name when we wake up for no good reason at 3:00 A.M. For me, I experience this as a prompting from God; for you, it might be another form of higher power or a deep-seated ethic.
But this isn’t about you or me. This is about those who have given us the belief that we can be more. I’ve had teachers, coaches, relatives, neighbors, and others who have helped me to visualize being something more, and without them destiny might have seemed like it was not within my grasp. I am sometimes inclined to drop to my knees in gratitude, for I know that these people gave me a love and care that I couldn’t have summoned on my own. There are also those who are a less direct part of our lives but who inspire us by their example.
I hope you feel the same gratitude for the people who raised you, looked after you, scolded you, dried your tears, taught you algebra, and educated you about right and wrong. You can think of them when you’re down, knowing they would be there to encourage you and tell you how special you are. (And you are!)
So here, without any particular order, are some who have helped me.
My Grandmother cared for my brother and me in the absence of my deceased mother, cleaning house, cooking our food, and teaching us through her example what unselfishness means. I wish I had realized how saintly she was at the time. One example: I never had a dirty practice uniform in four years of high school football because she insisted on washing it each day.
Speaking of football, my coaches occupied a special place in my young life. I was singled out for praise, cursed out for falling short, taught about discipline and hard work. My coaches largely served as father figures in my life.
I was unabashedly a teacher’s pet and worked hard to earn that distinction. My teachers were a much-needed constant in my life, and I could sense the love that underlay the lessons on U.S.-Soviet relations, the French verb conjugations, and the Physics labs.
There are also those in my life now who inspire me:
- My friend Brenda who, besides being a ball of positive energy, is inclusive in everything she organizes. She lives out the phrase “the more the merrier”.
- My co-worker Justin who endured a harrowing trip from Vietnam in a boat as a child, survived two years in a refugee camp, and made it to the U.S. Today he is a top-notch programmer and carries a beautiful air of dignity.
- My friend Jamie who is blind and who personifies hard work. She is more ambitious and active than most of us.
- My favorite yoga teacher (a phrase I couldn’t imagine using four years ago) Jacqueline whose spirit of peacefulness is surpassed only by the sense that she wants this for you also. She’s also self-deprecating and humble, nice qualities for someone in her position (no pun intended!).
These are just a few of the people who I try to think about when my eyes open at 3:00 A.M. Remembering them helps me to answer destiny’s wake-up call. I wish the same for you.