I just finished the inimitable Robyn Peterman's latest in her Hot Damned series, Fatally Flawed. This hoot of a novel is written from the first-person point of view of Satan, the Devil himself. As always, Robyn Peterman made me laugh out loud as she plumbed great depths. This outing takes us on a magical mystery tour of fate and destiny, along with one of my favorite topics, free will. In the book, Fate is a bitch. As in she is a mean and terrible woman who toys with people for her own twisted ends. And while humans have free will, immortals, like the Devil, do not. They have destiny and their fate is manipulated by Fate. That’s the price of immortality, I guess. The subject of destiny, predestination and free will fascinates me. In this fantasy, Satan is willing to meet his fate (as determined by Fate) head on. According to the Devil, "Fate had a way of revealing itself as you went along with your daily life…If we go about business as usual, whatever fate intended will find us.” It's an interesting perspective.
There are two schools of thought on this subject: one conforms to the Devil's thinking (which probably makes it intrinsically suspect) and the other is that we must actively place ourselves in the path of destiny. One path is passive and assumes a "wait and see" approach. The other is more active, exhorting us to take our destiny into our own hands and assume the helm of our life’s ships.
I used to believe that anything we achieved was the result of hard work and Machiavellian manipulation, wresting control from an unfeeling Universe to shape life to our will. I expended a lot of energy in my youth and my not-so-youth working to bend life to my will. I wanted a husband and a family of my own. I wanted an important job, nice things, and to be thin (this last goal was disproportionally important to me, in retrospect). And I thought I had to work very hard to get all of what I wanted. That my destiny was 100% up to me.
But I have to agree with Satan. Fate is a bitch. I went about seizing the day with everything I had. The cost was steep. I kissed too many total toads before I stumbled across my prince—while I was supposed to be on a date with someone else. I circumvented Mother Nature to conceive my children, and my health has never been the same. I ended up with meaningful work, but only as a result of dumb luck, not deliberate design. In other words, I ended up exactly where I want to be, but not because I knew the first thing about how to get here.
I am where I am perhaps because Fate had all of this in store for me. Looking back, it seems like every single time I tried to steer my own ship, I foundered on the rocks. That I ended up floating placidly on calm and beautiful waters tells me that something else is at work. I would have definitely screwed it all up, if left to my own devices.
And as I've gotten older, I've learned to see the wisdom in the Devil's directions. Waiting to see what Fate has in store, while I go about business as usual turns out to be a pretty good strategy. Perhaps not 24/7, but maybe we don't have to work quite as hard as I used to think to ensure that we meet our destinies. Maybe we're not as good as we think we are in figuring out what our destiny is supposed to be. Or maybe it's just me.