Defying Destiny

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I’m totally taken with the title of Jeaniene Frost’s new series, Broken Destiny (not to mention being taken with the opening book itself, The Beautiful Ashes). The books are about Ivy and Adrian, the last of their lines descending from David and Judas, respectively.  Spoiler alert: just as Judas betrayed Jesus, Adrian is destined to betray Ivy, who is the key to ensuring the continuation of the human race and preventing the ascendance of Satan.  No biggie. Have I mentioned how much I love these books?  How could I not with such a great premise? But, back to the central concept of the series (well, I‘m making an educated guess about that, of course, as Ms. Frost has only written one book so far—and do consider this a plea for additional offerings, Jeaniene!) which is about resisting the inevitable.  On the other hand, is it inevitable if we resist?  I’m taking another wild stab here and predicting that, over time, Adrian will be able to fight fate and break his destiny and that he and Ivy will have their HEA.  Which is awesome for them.  But what about the rest of us?  Can we, too, defy destiny and change course to achieve more optimistic outcomes?  Can I abandon the alliteration already?  Seems not.

So, is there such a thing as destiny?  Do we know it when we see it?  And if such a thing exists, it is inexorable? Was Calvin correct and everything is already predetermined even as we are conceived?  For me, it can’t be.  I refuse to believe in predestination.  Because the whole argument behind it is a self-licking ice cream cone, in my opinion (with apologies to those who disagree, of course). The idea of an unbreakable destiny negates the concept of free will and that dog just won’t hunt in my world (OK—no more military metaphors—they drive my husband crazy and no one else gets them—I got it!).

I believe we can overcome our upbringings and our DNA, we can break vicious cycles, we can defy expectations and blow them away. We can also be less than and lower the bar for ourselves.  Anything is possible—or at least that’s one of the things I tell myself so that I can get through the day with some semblance of sanity.  Because, hell, we live the greatest country in the world where upward mobility and social and economic progress are integral tenets of the American Dream.  And I still believe, I do. In fact, I am the product of an American Dream that my father realized half a century ago.  He was an impoverished immigrant who came to this country with nothing but the clothes on his back and he parlayed hard work and grit into tremendous success.  Totally inspiring.  He defied his destiny that seemed to dictate that he would live, toil and die in poverty and obscurity to climb to the heights of personal and professional success.  No submission to the inevitable there.  No predestination for my Daddy, no way.  Thankfully for him, and for me and the rest of my family.

And what about all of us whose genetics incline us toward cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders?  Must we plan on inevitable illness and decline because we lost the genetic lottery? I can’t believe that either, because if it’s true, I’d better get going on discharging the rest of my bucket list, because the end is nigh. My family members are genetic disasters in terms of sickness and degeneration—you name it, we have it in my genetic makeup, and it’s a scary thought for sure.  And, as a result of my DNA’s predispositions, I work hard to maintain my health and beat the odds—defy my destiny of ill health and early death through the choices I make every day to take care of myself.

I believe we are co-creators of our destiny. We make choices. And some choices are harder than others. But the right choice has to be harder. Otherwise it isn't a choice.  The issue of choice is complex, and I will write more about it later, so we won’t go into it here. Suffice it to say that defying destiny is not for the faint-hearted.  Just ask Adrian.  He’s working his ass off trying to break his destiny, and entertain us along the way.  And let me say right here and now that he is doing a truly bang-up job of all of it.

Sometimes, on the other hand, instead of defying our destiny, our task is to try to live up to it. In breaking his own destiny, for example, my father created a new destiny for me to uphold and honor with my own life and choices. Do I want to do less than my beloved father?  No way.  I want to make him proud, even if he’s not still with me here in this plane or on this planet anymore, I know he’s out there somewhere, wondering if I will overcome the obstacles in my path to shine as brightly as he did.  Because one can break one’s destiny in a negative way as well, when we do the Limbo dance and see how low we can go, instead of soaring higher and reaching farther.

So, whatever our destinies tell us should be in the cards for us, our lives and our futures, the question is whether we will create our own realities and define our own destinies so that we can either live up to previously-established high standards or blow low expectations out of the water with our stellar performances in life.  Because, as Ms. Frost so ably describes, it’s up to us.  It always was and it always will be. That is the nature of destiny, broken or otherwise.