Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Luck vs. Destiny vs. Personal Control

I've noticed (through my relatively brief years on this planet) that many people fall strongly on one side of a three way battle between luck vs. destiny vs. personal control. What I'm about to say is grossly over-generalized, but bear with me.

I know many people of various religious persuasions fall strongly on the "destiny" side. God has a plan. Things happen for a reason. Typically that "reason" seems to be related to the aforementioned plan of God. Didn't win the lottery? God decreed it must not be so. Struck down with a terrible disease? It must be God's will. Been wronged? God will set it right. God has mapped it out for us, and that's the path we're destined to tread. In essence, God is the major Insurance CEO and Head Cartographer. Bam.

Now I know that not ALL spiritual/religious folks believe this. Some faiths readily contest that man was given free-will by God; ergo man is readily equipped to fuck up at will. Made a bone-head move? That's all you. But the good things - well that's God, naturally.

Then there are those that believe in Luck; that chaotic gambler of mysterious circumstances. Luck seems to be readily distributed in inanimate objects. Luck is, rather unluckily, a fair-weather friend. Knock on wood, don't change your game socks, wear your lucky necklace all the time - even in the shower. Maybe you win 50% of the time. That's okay; just think how little you'd win without your magic object?! As such, ritual is often involved. Ironically, Ritual is also involved in destiny - it's just called prayer.

There's a heathenistic sub-culture of vagrants who believe not in things, not in prayer, not in anything - except themselves. Often, I've found that these people don't believe in a deity or an idol, but rather they believe in themselves, arrogantly and absolutely. These people make their choices, stick with their decisions, and head right into the storm, come what may. There's an absolute freedom in this. It's also a hell of a lot scarier than Destiny or Luck. What happens if we're not enough? What happens if we can't blame anyone but ourselves? Personal Control is the free unknown, the black hole of the future, the destroyer of insured happiness.

And then there's me. I readily utilize all three of these doctrines. Sometimes at the same time.

Here's an example:

I wore my Scott Niedermayer jersey while watching the Ducks play the Kings tonight. They won 4-2. The last game I watched, I did NOT wear my Scott Niedermayer jersey, and they lost, 4-5. Therefore, I need to wear my Scott Niedermayer jersey for all of the games I watch for the rest of the season. OR ELSE. (They won and lost games when I was in Long Island, but since I couldn't watch them on the television, my luck was neutral and didn't matter... Yeah. I'm THAT powerful.)

I submitted my resume for a PR job late last week. I have not been contacted for an interview, even though I know I'm more than qualified. I'm okay with this; it's for the best. It's obviously not meant to happen. That's all you, G-O-D.

I'm now writing Indie Music articles for examiner.com. Do I have any journalism experience? No. Am I hipster who hangs out at record stores and spends all my money on over-priced bootlegs of obscure and elitist bands? No. Why am I doing it? Well ... why not? I went into college wanting to be a rock journalist for Rolling Stone. I can hold my own enough to write about things that interest me, and hopefully other people. Go big, or go home. I can make this whatever I want it to be. If I suck ... it'll only cost me readers.

One of the books I'm reading right now is a non-fiction account of hiking the Ulster Trail around the circumference of Northern Ireland, written by Will Ferguson. In one passage of the book, Will is told by locals that the Hawthorne bushes that ominously dot the North Ireland farms along the trail are "Faerie thorns," and Farmers won't cut them down, for fear of the wee fay folk seeking revenge and wreaking havoc on the poor farmers, their families, and their farms.

Will asks one Farmer, "Surely you don't believe in faeries and spirits."

The Farmer replies, "I don't. But that may not matter."

And that, ladies and gents, is a sound philosophy in a nutshell.
This blog post is brought to by:

Will Ferguson
North Ireland Faeries
The Anaheim Ducks
chocolate pudding


jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Probably the most important thing for each of us to believe in is ourselves. Second, we're not alone. Third, (my grandfather told me this in a dream after he'd died) no matter what, it'll be ok.
Works for me.

QueenFee said...

That farmer is one smart cookie.

Kristin Quinn said...

Believing in too many things is better than believing in black or white. I would like to think that believing in a little bit of luck, destiny and personal control eventually leads us to the best we can possibly be!

tyler said...

Oh boy. Not an hour ago I finished reading "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", so the subject of fate vs. free will is weighing upon me today.

I do love what Guildenstern said:

"Where we went wrong was getting on a boat. We can move, of course, change direction, rattle about, but our movement is contained within a larger one that carries us idly towards eternity without possibility of reprieve or hope of explanation".


tyler said...

...and it doesn't take a lot of luck to beat the Kings.

Radical Bradacal said...

Tyler, I do so love the opening moments, when Rosencrantz flips that coin, and time and time again, it's heads. And re: The Kings - they're doing ridiculously well this year. It makes me a little ill.

Kristin, I think so too. :)

Fee, you said it!

Jennifer, oddly, my grandmother told me the same thing, in a dream, after she died. WEIRD.

MildlySensational said...

My mom used to tell me, "I'm not going to tell you it's ok. I know it's not ok. But it will be, and then we will have dinner." Dinner made everything better. And the time in between gave you a chance to fix it or find a way through. Because dinner was waiting, and it smelled like pot roast.

Jen said...

that just about sums it up for me. Do I reeeeealllly believe that if I don't wear my lucky Packers underpants on Sundays, they will lose? Well... dammit, not really, since you asked. But, I know if I don't wear them they are almost assured to lose. I don't want to ruin their season, ya know ;)?

Robin said...

Believing in luck is like believing in coincidence and I don't. So, that is one down for me. From there it's a lot more complicated. Ultimately, I think that we are the captains of our own ships. Is God out there? Yes. Angels? Yes. Spirit guides? Yes. Are any and all of them sometimes that voice that we hear in our heads that we know isn't our own? Could be. Yes, probably. This is one of those questions that we don't have an answer for now, but it's interesting to think about.