Fate has its Way.

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Laozi  was an ancient Chinese philosopher and writer. He is known as the reputed author of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ and the founder of philosophical Taoism.

 

So there I was once again without money and prospects so in desperation I applied for a job to which I was probably unsuited but they offered me an interview, the first opportunity of its like in two years, so who was I to argue? Giving myself an ample two-hour lead in time I caught the appropriate bus and 45 minutes later was in the right area but unable to read my scrawled street directions missed the stop and it was another two kilometres before I realised my mistake.

At this stage I had no idea where I was but I did have my laptop and did find a chain burger joint with free wi-fi. Finding my bearings I set about my way arriving at the interview with a safe few minutes to spare. Never once during this wholly mismanaged process did I panic, as I would have done when I was much younger, because life had learned me a valuable lesson – things tend to turn out, not as expected but as they should and mostly fortuitously.

If I had made the right stops I would have been almost an hour and half ahead of time and would have had to ‘kick at stones’ for more time than I would have liked. Fate, happenstance – yes all that stuff. Rationalists like myself would have us all believe that it does not exist, that it is but a mere conjuring of the wayward imagination and that we make our own destiny by hard work and planning, by personal fortitude, by setting goals….you know, all that stuff and not because of mysterious and obtuse forces working behind the scenes.

Frankly I have never been up to much. Too flaky, easily distracted and bored I have drifted through life trying this and that and then moving on, mastering numerous things but not able to glean anything resembling even a modest return for my efforts. This lack of success has caused me all manner of grief and angst but I have never given up trying and despite my best efforts to sort myself as I think I should be sorted life grand game of cricket keep’s on bowling me googlies and pushing me in odd directions.

I have learned a lot on the way and have became better for it but to what application financially and with that in mind how many times have I thanked the gods for being born into a society that provides easily accessed unemployment benefits? At this task I am roaring success. Yes, it often seems that these mysterious fates have other ideas for me than the ones I have for myself and I often feel like a stick being tossed about on rough seas and every time I sight dry land and try to swim for it the winds whip up and I find myself adrift again.

 

 

I did some radio in my home town a couple or three years back and thought that this might be something I could do for a living so off to Auckland I went to do a technical course which I thought would get me a leg up into the industry. One morning about halfway through the course I sat down at a café next to guy who the publisher of a magazine that was about dead on its feet. “I need a writer” he said and I replied “I could do that” with all the naivety of a lamb chatting up a pack of wolves. (The money was crap but I had none so it looked promising on paper at least).

After a time I did get the hang of writing and because it was just me and me alone I became editor by default. By the time the creditors moved in I had learned more than I bargained for and among other things found myself at the centre of a scandal that ended up as national news (courtesy a piece I wrote for the magazine)  and naturally with all this going on I failed the course putting an end to any dreams I had about being a radio personality.

I limped out of there only to be immediately approached by another publisher to do some freelance work for his website ending up a good million miles more from where I expected to be when I set out on this particular adventure. “Where is this all going?” I asked myself more than once especially when the freelance work began to dry up?

 

 

As I walked to the interview it suddenly occurred to me that I knew these streets. I had walked them before as a callow youth fresh out of school and door knocking. It was during one of NZ’s regular economic downturns and it was a futile experience.  When I did eventually find work, in Melbourne as it turned out, it was of the mind-numbing sort, which was all I was qualified for. “Oh dear god, what am I doing?” I thought as I walked toward an interview for the kind I mind numbing job I flitted between as youth while tossing about thoughts of the joys of having actual money with which to pay rent and buy food and clothes and have fun with. The refrain of a song I had recently written echoed about my head – ‘Be careful what you wish for’ as I contemplated another thought – “Full circle”.

I could tell the guy did not think I was suitable for the job (“You are too well spoken and nicely mannered” were his exact words) but he said he knew somebody who was looking for a guy with my experience in the Pie business (I was the sales guy for a major brand for a number of years – a long story of weird design). “Oh dear god, not that again” and while accepted his offer graciously I was thinking “Look, all I want is a job to pay the bills, one that is not going to grind me down with care and worry and require that I exhaust deepest part of me, that one I want to keep safe for writing” and by writing I mean songs. This last year of writing stories has taught me the hard way that I am not made for it.

 

 

I have been writing songs since I was a kid and of all my endeavours this is the one that has remained constant though I have to say, like everything else, it has been an exercise in economic futility. By chance (fate?) I had run into an old musical associate early on my return to Auckland and he pretty much dragged me into his home studio setting me up in front of a microphone before I had a chance to resist. “Whatcha got” he asked. “Nothing” I replied, “I don’t do this anymore”. “Why?” and I explained that it was pointless. Then he explained he always thought I was a bit of genius at the art and encouraged me to give it another go. So I did and between us we have written and recorded a batch of songs of the like I have been trying to write all my adult life.

I couldn’t do it the way I wanted when I was younger because of the missing ingredient – life experience. I could make tunes but not words and now the words poured out – words about heartbreak and loss, about grief and triumph, disappointment, failure, fantasy and the meaning of love. There it is, that bloody fate thing again and perhaps I am back where I belonged all along dreaming up melodies and concepts and arrangements like there is no tomorrow. Full circle.

 

 

The ‘Tao De Ching’ is a treatise of Chinese origin that examines a particular brand of metaphysical philosophy that dates back to the fifth or six centuries BCE. The author, one Laozi, tells of The Way (The Tao), a neat little package that combines all the physical laws inherent in the universe with musings on the mystery from which they arise. He says that while it cannot be understood or ascribed but it can be intuitively ‘known’. To ‘know’ it is to is to find peace and fulfilment. To deny is to experience grief, pain and angst.

To Quote:

It (the Tao) is filled with infinite possibilities, hidden but always present.

Practice not doing and everything will fall into place.

Free from desire you realise the mystery, caught up in desire you see only the manifestations.

 

Maybe I should do as Lao Tzu advices  through the course of his writing – roll with the flow. Resistance is counterproductive and when you let go and let the currents to carry you along it works out a lot work a lot better.

Society says that I should be aspirational, I should be planning and pro-active. That luck like success is made and all that, but no, the harder I try the messier it gets and yes, with all of this in mind, it seems that at the end of the day I am a fatalist, one who is happy to let the strange currents that flow through space and time do as they will with me. It makes no sense but by the same token it makes all the sense in the world and when I allow the fates to take their course everything seems to work out suitably and me feeling happier. I wish I could say it better but I can’t. It is all too strange. As for the job, well I get the sense that something has been set in motion and as to where its going to lead I have no idea but I looking forward to finding out.

Full circle….. I can’t but help think that here in the last round of life I have been taken back to the beginning, that place where I made so many errors and took so many missteps and have been offered a second chance to try it again, this time with a little wisdom and experience on my side. A chance to make better choices and more suitable decisions.

 

I will leave the final word, a counter to everything I have just said, from one S.L Scott who I found in the Huffington Post:

Most people use fate and destiny interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. Fate is the life you lead if you never put yourself in the path of greatness. That’s the direction your life moves in without any effort on your part. That’s your fate. Fate is a negative and is defined as the expected result of normal development. Normal development. Never taking a risk is your inevitable fate.

(S.L. Scott is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author. She spends her days escaping into her characters and letting them lead her on their adventures. Live music shows, harvesting jalapenos and eating homemade guacamole are her hobbies. Scott lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband, two young sons, two Papillons and a bowl full of Sea Monkeys).

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