Friday, February 6, 2015

The Problem with Destiny

destiny |ˈdestinē|
noun (pl. destinies)
1:  something to which a person or thing is destined 2:  a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency

Destiny is one of those words usually associated with positive, wistful ideas like the romantic – a couple destined to be together, or a professional accomplishment – destined for greatness.  We’d all like to be destined for something wonderful and incredible, and we’d all like to think that if we can be true to ourselves, that if we can be steadfast, somehow destiny will take the reigns and lead us right where we need to ultimately end up-that place that answers the questions we all ask, “Why am I here?  Why was I born?  What’s my purpose in life?”

Most of us spend our lives chasing the idea of our own destinies, grappling at the grand possibilities that we believe they may hold.  If we’re lucky, we find that destiny and we cross our fingers, close our eyes and pray that it really is that awesome.  And then, there are some, who know that their destinies don’t include the white picket fence, or a platinum selling album, and they run from them.

… a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency.

The problem with destiny is that it implies that we have no choice in what our future holds for us.  It suggests that we’re stuck with that particular destiny, whether we want it or not.  For example, I was destined to meet my now ex-husband.  Hindsight being what it is, we never should’ve gotten married in the first place, but the result of that union was our daughter, who would’ve never been born had the two of us not fallen into the trap of destiny. 

In my new novel, Daughter of Gods and Shadows, Eden Reid, the heroine, is born into a destiny she would never have chosen for her self.  From the very beginning, she was told the stories of whom she was and why she had been born (or in her case, reborn), so seeking out her destiny was never the issue.  She had been spoon- fed it all of her life. 

In the story, her caregiver, Rose who raised her, taught her the story of the great ancient alien being, Mkombozi the Redeemer of her world, Theia.  Mkombozi had been tasked with saving her world from the Demon, Sakarabru, who threatened to conquer all of Theia.  In order to become powerful enough to defeat the Demon, Mkombozi needed to bond with the Omens, a dangerous undertaking in and of itself.  She not only survived making the bonds, but she destroyed the Demon, and also her world and herself. 

Those ancients who survived made Earth their home and learned to live among humans, hiding the nature of who and what they really were.  But a prophecy foretold of the return of the Demon, and since only the Redeemer could destroy him, it became necessary to resurrect Mkombozi’s essence here in this world.  Eden Reid is that resurrected being.

The stories of Mkombozi and of Sakarabru terrify Eden, who wants nothing to do with this so-called destiny of saving the world—her world.  Being the author, I have an intimate relationship with my characters and I know what’s going on inside their heads.  I understand their thoughts, motivations, reservations, fears, and joys.  And with Eden, I have a deep understanding of her reasons for not wanting to embrace her destiny.

Not all destinies are good.  Not all destinies are bright.  Some are downright terrifying and in Eden’s case, knowing that she is going to have to face this great horror, and that she alone is responsible for the salvation of not only the world, but perhaps even the universe is beyond overwhelming for this 24 year old woman.  She is Mkombozi reborn, but she is also 4000 years removed from her former self, and her life, in addition to being shaped by the stories told to her by her caregiver, has also been shaped by hip-hop, Starbucks, and reality television.   She refused to succumb to this destiny and fights tooth and nail to try and create one of her choosing, a simpler one, with a husband, maybe a few kids, and a dog.

Despite her best efforts to avoid her destiny, while running away, Eden crashes right into it.  It didn’t matter how far she ran or how fast, her destiny was always there, on the fringes, surrounding her and closing in around her. 

Jean de La Fontaine, a 17th century poet said, “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”

Not everyone believes in destiny.  I don’t necessarily believe it until I’m actually in the middle of living it (i.e., the ex-husband example).  Destiny, in so many ways, robs us of our power.  It negates our best laid plans, and makes us slaves to unavoidable outcomes.  Choice, having and making choices for our lives, is the mastery of living.  I guess, what I believe the most is that we choose as often as we can.  We master our lives to the fullest extent possible, but when destiny comes into the picture, we gird up our loins, hang on, and choose to meet it head on.

© Jayde Brooks, February 4, 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment