The Kirundi proverb, “You may get up before the dawn, but destiny gets up before you,” raises some interesting questions. If our fate is determined by Destiny, why bother to pursue our dreams? Why bother to have goals? Why bother to put any effort into life at all?
Though fate will always play a role in determining what will – or will not – happen to us, we have free will to make choices. And, in an odd sort of way, fate and free will are not in opposition to one another.
I see our relationship with Destiny as a kind of dance. In dance, there is a lead partner and a guided, or follow, partner. The partners are not in opposition to one another, but intertwined, because one influences the movement of the other.
Sometimes Destiny’s lead may seem random, and everyone can cite numerous instances where Destiny changed the course of his life, both in major and minor ways …
“Had this not happened, I never would have met my spouse.”
“I was very upset when my car broke down, but the mechanic discovered a problem that may have saved me from having a cataclysmic accident.”
“Who would have believed that I’d like my new job better than the one I lost?”
And, of course …
“I thought my world had come to an end when we split, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.”
The examples go on and on, but the message is always the same: Don’t allow the immediate impact of an event to throw you out of rhythm.
Remember, the initial impact of an event is often nothing more than an illusion, so it’s wise to get in the habit of immediately looking for what Destiny may be trying to tell you. As Richard Bach so eloquently put it in his book Illusion, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.”
The dance with Destiny can be nothing more than an everyday happenstance. As an example, my oldest son played organized baseball in his youth. At a pool party to celebrate a team victory, he playfully flipped one of his teammates into the pool. The wrestling coach happened to witness the incident, and asked, “Have you ever thought about wrestling?”
Wrestling had never entered my son’s mind, but he was willing to explore Destiny’s lead. He may not have been consciously aware of it, but because he was open to being guided by Destiny, wrestling became his favorite sport, and one in which he excelled. He also received important lessons form a legendary coach who changed his life, a coach he never would have met had he not been open to dancing with Destiny.
As with my son and his wrestling experience, it’s wise to be an open and curious partner in the dance with Destiny. You never know who you will meet or what opportunities might cross your path. That’s the really fun part of dancing with Destiny.
Sometimes, of course, it’s not fun. But even in the worst of situations, it’s wise to follow Destiny’s lead. In life’s darkest hours, I find solace in the essay “Welcome to Holland.” Though it’s about parents who live their lives with the uncertainty of raising a child with a disability, the lesson is applicable to all of life’s challenges.
As difficult as it may be to travel to the allegorical Holland, it is there that the author finds treasure. Even in seemingly bad situations, there is peace and tranquility to be found in the art of letting go.
When you change your perspective and surrender the lead to Destiny, your dance has the opportunity to blossom into something deliciously unexpected. The empirical evidence clearly suggests that the cliché “go with the flow” has a lot of merit.
So, yes, despite our planning and diligence, there are circumstances that are beyond our control, but how we react to those circumstances is totally within our control. The dance with Destiny is part of being human — part of being alive. My personal experience has convinced me that things tend to work out much better when I join the dance willingly and open my mind to universal intelligence.
Dancing with Destiny requires only that you be a willing, guided partner who is open to new people, places, and experiences. Never, ever, prejudge the dance. If you are an unwilling partner and not open to following, you might just miss Destiny’s lead and become a misguided partner.
By all means, make plans and pursue your dreams, but always remember that Destiny is the lead partner and you are the follower. So long as you are willing to surrender the lead, there is a possibility that Destiny will take you to wonderful places you never could have imagined.