The Thinker

Destiny’s Unseen Hands

Cosmic forces are pushing me. Yeah, I know it sounds nuts, but it is true. All I know is that something is out there. It is messing with me, hopefully for the good. I do not know how I know, but somehow I know that I was sent on this journey called life, and I know that I have a mission. While I do not know what my mission is, I can infer much of it. If I stray too far from my apparently programmed path, unseen forces will quickly align me back toward the same path.

And it is not just me. I think that it is all of us. I am starting to question just how much free will I really have. I believe that I was meant to come into this life and tackle certain issues. I do not know if I was meant to actually solve them in this life, but I think I am expected to keep earnestly plugging away at them. The means by which to solve them seem largely elusive, which makes the whole process feel very frustrating. Nor can I fully articulate what the issues are. What I perceive my “issues” to be are I think symptoms of some higher issues whose names I cannot identify. The meaning of my life is like a partially constructed jigsaw puzzle. If I can snap a piece or two into the puzzle then I have a better understanding of what the puzzle in time may reveal.

Here is what I have learned in my own situation. You can run, but you cannot hide from your mission. Whatever “it” is, you must work on it. For example, let us suppose that you are unhappy in your marriage. You subsequently divorce, thinking that your spouse’s behavior was the problem. As a divorcee, you are likely to find that there is some underlying issue related to the marriage that still gnaws at you, and it was not your ex-wife. Rather your ex-wife merely brought to the surface some issues inside yourself so you could grapple with them. Perhaps you will ache in loneliness in a degree commensurate with the misery you experienced in the marriage. Perhaps you will seek out someone who you think has different characteristics, only to find that when you remarry that you are facing the same issues all over again. You may even find yourself ping ponging from one relationship to the next looking for the perfect relationship minus the detritus of the last one. Ultimately, you are likely to find that you have issues, your partner has issues, and sanctuary simply does not exist.

Taking overt actions to address specific symptoms do not necessarily solve these hidden issues and agendas that lie within ourselves. At best, actions that address symptoms act like an aspirin and dull the pain. Sometimes they make things much worse. However, the underlying issue remains. The wound remains open.

The baffling parts are figuring out what the real issues are. If you can articulate the underlying issues then you have the challenge of creating a way to address them. Perhaps with a very good therapist you can in time figure out what your problems truly are. However, that does not necessarily mean that you can solve them. No therapist can inhabit your body. At best, they can view your internal life through a translucent pane of glass. They depend on you to faithfully articulate your feelings. If you are equally baffled then it is unlikely that they will be of much lasting help.

So you may feel like I do: that I am grasping at straws. While the status quo may at times feel very painful, it seems like outside forces want you to inhabit this zone. For it seems that we can only learn our most valuable lessons through pain. Progress, when it is made at all, seems to come from embracing the pain rather than avoiding it. This is difficult for most of us to do because it feels so counterintuitive.

One of my issues is control. I like things ordered and predictable. I do not like surprises. I do not like ambiguity. I like to think my life is in reasonable control. I take satisfaction at the end of the month paying all my bills and seeing my net worth slowly creeping up. I want to extend this control into all aspects of my life. Yet it is ultimately futile. For control is really an illusion. Moreover, I cannot really control anything other than myself. I cannot control my wife, daughter or cat. While I like the illusion of having control over myself, in reality even control over myself is an illusion. For I am not just me. I am many beings and aspects at once. Most of the time the logical side is dominant, but sometimes the emotional side takes control. My brain, like yours, is like a massive parallel processor where multiple threads compete for control over my mind and body. Therefore, I think one of my meta-issue is not control, but learning how to give up control. For me death is so disturbing not necessarily because it means the loss of my self. It is disturbing because it exists in a domain beyond my control yet through which I must pass. Perhaps it is this knowledge that is at the root of religion’s popularity.

On rare occasion a puzzle piece does fall into place. For much of my life I felt intellectually intimidated. While I was above average intellectually, I was no mental giant. I perceived myself as less smart than those around me, particularly many of my siblings. I wanted to have a job that was more intellectually challenging and where I got to work on larger issues that had a broader impact. I had a few brushes with failure that suggested this was my natural state. For example, I lost my job in 1988. A few years earlier, I had tried to take a computer course in college and failed. Working in the information systems field without a related degree made me feel vulnerable. Eventually I determined that I had to work up my courage and succeed by earning a graduate degree. I knew it would have to be done while keeping a full time job, caring for my elementary school daughter and keeping my marriage together. Yet I had to do it to achieve balance within myself.

I eventually achieved my goal, much to my relief. The degree did help me achieve a more rewarding career. However, what it really did was give me some confidence in my own abilities to solve a very difficult personal issue. This particular feeling of angst that had permeated about twenty years of my life wholly disappeared. Nevertheless, clearly many other underlying issues remain to be tackled.

I need to figure out what these remaining issues really are. One thing I do know from much experience: I cannot walk away from them for they will continue to shadow me throughout life unless I somehow resolve them. So although I usually don’t know how to tackle them, I must keep making rather fumbling attempts to do so. If I choose to do nothing, I know that destiny will intervene.

 

3 Responses to “Destiny’s Unseen Hands”

  1. 9:59 pm on January 15 2006, Lisa said:

    This post felt like you might be doing acid, in which case I congratulate you on walking on the wild side. If that is NOT the case, however, I am beginning to wonder about you! hehe

    Just kidding. You’re philosophical as always and I think these questions you pose creep up on us little by little as we get older and face the whole mortality thing. I agree that we seem to come into this life with certain lessons to learn and life experiences which enable us to learn them,but we always have the free will to choose not to learn those lessons and have to accept the consequences of that action (or lack of action, as it were).

    Keep on doing that thinking thing. You’re good at that! And if the acid thing is true, take some pics. This I gotta see!

    (Much love from the eastern shore)

  2. 4:08 pm on January 16 2006, Matt said:

    An interesting article. I have come to expect no less from you. 🙂

    By nature human beings spend much of their life trying to find explanations for things. We are victims of one of our greatest strengths – our inherent curiosity. You are trying to explain and understand why you feel a certain way, or act a certain way. To me, this is a sign of someone who is driven to understand themselves and the natural world that we all interact with and (whether we like it or not) are a lifelong member of. I think the majority of the human race goes through life denying the realities about themselves. These “realities” can be a variety of things – our view on relationships, our faith, our views on right and wrong, on morality, on government. It is also the way we react to the simplest things in life – the behaviors of others, the beliefs of others, how we eat, what we eat, etc… The list is endless.

    In the case of your example regarding the divorce, it is easier for an individual to blame a failed situation on someone else or something else rather than search within their own feelings or examine their own actions. I believe that many of us are too hesitant, more likely afraid, to look within ourselves and find our own failures and shortcomings. We don’t want to find things wrong with ourselves. We even deny it. To identify those “negative” things about ourselves – our failures, our weaknesses, the illogical and irrational thoughts that drive our equally unexplainable and sometimes damaging actions – is more than half of the battle. Realizing what we are, no accepting and embracing what we are, is a great human challenge.

    The other aspect that tends to cause limits or failures is the inability to accept that there is no answer or known explanation for something. Take our existence for example. (I’m going to keep this at a very high level for brevity). Are we here via creation or are we here via evolution? (These two things are not mutually exclusive either, buy the way, but I digress.) Some believe that we and the world around us are so complex that there is no way it randomly came together. So, the only logical and/or rational explanation is that some higher being created the universe and set it in motion. That being could be God (in the Christian sense) or some generic omnipotent being who just set the world in motion and forgot about it. How about considering the idea that there is a third explanation that we cannot fathom because of our limited minds? Why accept an unverifiable explanation (such as the existence of God) as the only possible answer to the question? Why not simply accept that we cannot arrive at a reasonable explanation due to our limited capabilities?

    We live in a time of incredibly fast progress. You and I are beneficiaries of some of that through the careers we have chosen. Advancements in computer technology occurs at an incredible rate, providing us new technology for which to develop code, watch TV, play console or PC games, talk on the phone, and so on. Yet less than 1000 years ago the majority of civilization thought the world was flat and believed in witchcraft. Think of what we knew about medicine 500 years ago compared to now. I believe we as human beings have SO far to go in our development. We have so much more potential to grow, to develop, to evolve.

    What I am trying to say is we need to be patient, accept what we know, admit to ourselves who we are, enjoy our personal strengths and acknowledge and embrace our personal weaknesses. One of the most significant failures of our society today is lack or personal responsibility. People need to take responsibility for their actions. They need to take responsibility for the pain they cause others (again, your divorce example), to take blame for things they have control over. My favorite is parents blaming the video game industry for making their kids violent.

    Accept that there may be no explanation to the mysterious influences in your life. Or at least that we are too simple to understand them…. 🙂

  3. 11:56 pm on November 7 2007, Nathan said:

    Ironically, both love and hate cause painful turmoil in those hearts, minds and souls that allow themselves to be affected.

    (I believe) the difference is:
    Hate leaves scars, that only love can heal.
    Hate destroys beauty, love creates new beauty.
    Hate leads to Deepening Despair, love to Increasing Hope.
    Hate swallows, love feeds.
    etc., etc., etc….

    My point is (trying to be): look for love and generate things that heal, create new beauty, increase hope, and feed you and others on your respective journies.

    e-mail me (anyone) if you want to know more of what it think about love. nathinsane AT gmail DOT com

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