Monday, November 14, 2011

Fate

The snow finally arrived. Well, sort of. I missed it falling, though I heard about it from co-workers. Not much snow, all things considered, a cm max on the driveway. So little that I didn't even count shoveling it as part of the workout.

I got on the bike a little bit later than anticipated, side tracked by blogs, and writing a really long, really creative comment. Blogger and the stupid character limit on comments totally broke the flow and made me post it in two parts. So if I don't win, I'll blame Blogger for breaking the mood.

One the bike. 20 minute warm up. 2x10 min at 1.9 watts, with 5 minutes easy in between. 15 minute cool down. Felt great!

I've been thinking about the life map metaphor I brought up a few blogs ago. We go through life blithely making decisions as best we can on incomplete knowledge. Some of them we recognize as big decisions at the time, and some not. Sometimes small things have big consequences that we only understand in hindsight. Once you get to a certain age you start thinking about the what ifs'. You might be perfectly satisfied with how things have turned out, and still wonder about those paths you didn't take.

Life is so fragile. There are so many ways we can die, and that's in modern day North America, which is one of the safest societies ever to exist. Sometimes, even worse, is almost dying. Lingering on in a coma, or after a bad stroke, to become mentally incapacitated in any number of ways, to become a prisoner of the medical system seems almost worse than dying. I earnestly hope when my time comes that it's quick and painless.

The medieval Norse society had a strong belief in fate, that our destiny was decided by forces beyond our control. Twist and turn as you might, you couldn't escape your fate. Oddly enough, this did not lead to a passive acceptance. They took the attitude that if you're going to bite something, bite deep. This led to great ferocity in battle, under the assumption that if it was your time, it would happen, and if not it didn't matter what risks you took.

I sometimes wonder about this. Are there other possible worlds where people very like me are living lives perhaps very like mine, or perhaps very different? Are there worlds where different decisions led to different lives, or do we share the same fate? I think about that poor woman who was killed under the wheels of a truck while riding her bike. What would have happened had she driven; would she have been run down walking from the car park to the store? Or walked the entire way; would she have had a heart attack or some other fatal accident? What about the driver of that truck? If it hadn't been her, would it have been someone else? It's a certainty they didn't plan to kill someone. Their life must be hell right now.

It hurts now to read about bike crashes, or bike collisions with cars. People have talked about getting a flat, or hitting a patch of bad pavement, or losing their concentration for a moment, with a variety of outcomes. Riders have done everything right and still been killed or injured. I've been faster than 90 Kph (56 mph) several times on my bike, and it's a complete exhilarating rush. It's also likely to be fatal, or at least extremely painful if anything goes wrong. I just make sure my bike is as mechanically sound as I can make it, and that I'm totally focussed on the task at hand.

There are many fictional stories about people being told of an outcome of an action, taking action to avoid it, and yet still succumbing. Perhaps the most famous example is A Death in Samarkand. We don't choose our lives really, we essentially make them up as we go along. And would we make better choices if we could see the future better? I don't know. Would I really get on a bike, knowing I was going to crash no matter how careful I was, and maybe also knowing I'd meet my one twue wuve (per the bishop in Princess Bride)  during physiotherapy? What if I was already married? Or would you get on the bike knowing that the training would take you to the age group podium at Kona (or the Boston Marathon, or whatever) but you die young alone and childless because you didn't go for a walk instead of the bike ride, and therefore never met that right person who would take of you?

So many choices. Maybe it's better we make them blind, and don't know about the other choices turn out. All I know is that my choices so far have led me to a life that I'm enjoying. And appreciating my good fortune, because there are sure some times it was that and not good management on my part. I've done some very stupid things in my life, but that's another blog.

What are your thoughts about fate, or Fate? Have you been lucky and you know it? Whats the story there?


12 comments:

  1. Perhaps all we can do is simply make the best choices we can for ourselves in that given moment. Since hindsight is 20/20, we can always say, "should've, would've, could've..." But in confidence, we must move ourselves forward, no matter the outcome.

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  2. I think you live the life you're meant to live and become the person you're meant to be. I don't mean that to say that you don't have choices along the way that can change your fate.

    When I was in high school, I was extremely good at two subjects: math and theatre. I went on to pursue a bachelor of fine arts with a major in drama (BFA, also known as a bachelor of f@$% all). Sometimes I wonder where life might have taken me if I'd pursued something related to math. Perhaps I'd be making a lot of money, but would never have met my husband and had my children. Who knows. That's a different Deb. And, the choices I've made are what has made me the Deb I am today.

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  3. I wish sometimes there was a way to recognize which decisions are going to be the big ones. I think we'd be surprised at how the small ones can have such a big impact.

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  4. Our choices do make us the person we are now. But I'm not sure sure about become the person you were meant to be. I don't know what that means. I think it gets back to the free will vs predestination discussion.

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  5. This is EXACTLY why I am writing a book now. I have been thinking about writing a book since I was a kid. I would always plan on starting tomorrow, after I did this or that or the other thing. Nope, the only way to do anything is to actually do it. Right now. I have to give myself this pep talk every day when I am caught up in the gray cubicle of my job and I want to skip working out. I am not going to do it later. I have to do it now. Wake up!

    As for fate...or Fate... some part of me rebels mightily at the thought of it. I like to think that fate is for people that sleep through their lives, people who are awake get to choose their own adventure.

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  6. I think my faith makes me believe that there is a bit of a plan to my life that the Lord has for me, but that my own stubborn behavior and free will sometimes messes it up. Darius Rucker (formerly of Hootie and Blowfish, now a country singer) sings a song called "This" and talks about "every stoplight I didn't make, every chance I didn't take.." and how it brought him to THIS place in his life. That sometimes the plan for our lives is just bigger than what we can see from our myopic perspective and sometimes that plan works out pretty damned good on its own. I think of all the hard times I've been through and thank God that I have learned so much along the way in a mere 38 years. Maybe I was destined to become a triathlete/blogger...but I had to endure losing my job to get to a point in my life where the Lord could put this desire in my heart. Just one of many things that have lead me to This.

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  7. I used to be a profane, irreverant blogger/runner, but then Fate intervened and now I am the Fashionista Queen of Belarus. Shit happens.

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  8. The only time to respond to this is right now. So I am. I had a book on the go, then got a job that involved a lot of writing. That lowered the writing pressure a lot, and I've never got back to it. There's a conspiracy, and kittens, but no zombies, no aliens. I'd like to think we choose our own adventures. I really would.

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  9. I don't have the same outlook on a planned life as you do, but we could well be using different words towards the same purpose. I've had relatives of mine use "God's plan" a little too often for my liking. Their approach was that if God gave you poop you had to eat it, but my feeling was that you should learn to build a waste water treatment plant, or use it for fertilizer.

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  10. Just so you know, I miss the profane, irreverent blogger runner. Every now and then GQH, Carpe, X, and I get together for coffee, and we talk about you. I just though you'd want to know.

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  11. Miss you, LooMoo.... :(

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  12. Awww! Thanks, guys.

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