George Michael wrote and sang that you gotta have faith (a-faith a-faith aaaah). But sometimes, I think, you have to believe in fate, too.
I've had this conversation with a lot of people in the past, more so in my heady, more optimistic, youth; I seem to recall too many marathon phone calls with my more spiritual friends in high school, when we sat for hours discussing the existence of God, whose God, higher powers, spiritual entities, whether or not destiny was a real concept, etc. I have to thank my parents for allowing me to tie up the phone line (did we have more than one, no!) for such valuable philosophical debates. As I grew up, however, more mundane and consequential matters filled my time (rent, bills, work), and with it increased the desire for more control and a feeling that it was me, and only me, who held the reins to my own destiny. Remember that old high school essay topic, fate or free will? It seems like the natural course of things is for one to start on one side of the pendulum, swing to the other extreme, and then settle somewhere in between.
I don't know that I remember the exact stance I had on this old debate in 1999, but to this day I still consider the matter of a predetermined plan to be highly comforting. Dealing with the losses my family incurred over the last few years, coping with unanswerable questions, packing up and picking up to move across the ocean, gives me the perspective and wisdom to sit back and allow the world's centrifugal force carry me along with it. Coincidence and charmed moments abound, and once I start taking notice of them all together, it seems like there is a force that can't be ignored.
Case in point: during the negotiations for my move to London, I realized that my daily planner, one that I had designed and constructed myself because I can't stand the format of store-bought planners (another post topic right there), ended on May 2 - my last day at my New York office and the day of my flight to London. Coincidence? Maybe. But it hit close enough to home to register with me that it was a sign - positive, negative, it's up to me to decide - or maybe an omen, foretelling of impending adventure and change.
I had a boss in New York whom I clashed with, and ultimately couldn't work with; here in England, my boss and I share such similar experiences, and I have such a high level of respect for her, that I can't help but marvel at such a happy coincidence… or not.
We lost the apartment on Upper Street in Angel, Islington, because of red tape, but the estate agent has offered us a comparable alternative. I'm going to go see the location now, and it might be better than this first place. One never knows. But it could also be fate.
People enter and depart from our lives daily, situations present themselves and unfold, daily traumas reverse upon themselves to show a silver lining. The question of whether or not fate exists, whether or not our individual stories are already written for us, or simply waiting for us to fill in the blanks, or completely blank pages of a n empty book, can never be answered by humans. But the discussion of this existence, fated or not, is the true gift: the interaction we share when we investigate and tease apart the nuances of our existence - that is what is in the end truly magical.
(I started reading The Biography of London by Peter Ackroyd last night, a gift from my mother, and obviously it is influencing how I think about the world I now inhabit. That, and the absolutely divine experience of exploring hidden brick passageways and forgotten courtyards).