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shilolo's avatar

Do you believe "fate" plays a role in your life?

Asked by shilolo (18013points) January 9th, 2009

I consider myself an evidence-based kind of person. Yet, I can’t escape the idea that certain choices I made were somehow “fateful”. I can think of many examples in my life where trivial events were life-altering.

For example, out of college I was interviewing for post-graduate schools, and was tired of the process. I got a late interview to a school in New York City, and was going to reject the interview (I had already interviewed at 12 other places), but my brother convinced me to go (just for fun…its NYC after all). The day before the interview, there was a blizzard, and we almost didn’t make it to the train (I wouldn’t have been sad). Eventually, I went. I liked the place, but not better than another program in St. Louis. I had already decided on St. Louis, when, the day before my “final decision”, I reversed course and decided on NYC.

In NYC, I met my scientific mentor (another crazy story), my wife (yet another crazy story), and so on. Tiny little events in the process led to wholesale events in my life.

Sorry for the long-winded description, but I wanted to describe my view of “fate”. Thoughts?

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14 Answers

Grisson's avatar

I suppose it could be viewed as fate: Every time I’ve been laid off, it has always worked out as an improvement in my career.

On the flipside: Every one of the [edit] companies , that laid me off has ceased to exist [or got out of the industry]. So maybe it goes without saying that it would be an improvement.

mea05key's avatar

Oh yes. Fate and luck.

bythebay's avatar

If not fate, then serendipity. Too many occasions things have fallen into place in the most amazing ways. When I went left instead of right, took a job I really didn’t want, left for a far flung place on a total whim only to meet someone I truly needed in my life.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think there are many things in life outside of my control, but I’m not sure I’d call those things fate. It’s all how we respond to events, and not the events themselves, like how you made the choice to go to NYC anyway. A situation arose, but you made a choice. That’s the ticket!

nikipedia's avatar

Huh. I was just having this thought process walking back to my new lab. I just happened to go to a talk almost exactly a year ago that completely changed what I wanted to do, and ever since then events have been falling into place exactly right to make it possible. I just happened to end up at the perfect school, at the perfect time, in touch with the perfect people to put me on this completely different path, and it took a dozen tiny coincidences for things to work out just so.

I don’t really know what to make of it all.

elijah's avatar

Oops double post

elijah's avatar

No. I think things happen coincidentally. Kind of the right time, the right place. I don’t think things are meant to happen, they just do. If you didn’t meet your wife you wouldn’t know she existed. You would of met another woman in another place, and if you end up very happy with her and thinking she was the very best one for you. I probably didn’t explain that very clearly…

rooeytoo's avatar

I think “fate” provides the opportunities, how I take advantage of or ignore those opportunities is my choice and not coincidental. I like the whole idea of it, always something new on the horizon if I keep my mind and my eyes open!

fireside's avatar

Yes, I believe in fate as you have described it.
I may interpret it as my soul leading me forward despite what my conscious mind wants to do, but I think it is the same phenomenon.

I can see how past “coincidences” have made a difference in my life and have brought me to where I am. I could have just as easily ended up where other people were who had similar opportunities, education, locality, etc. but I feel as though I am where I was meant to be.

Knotmyday's avatar

Not fate, just fortuitous happenstance.

If you really want to bend your mind a bit, imagine what would have happened had you missed the train.

I wouldn’t have met my SO if I’d won a coin flip nine years ago- too true. My entire life today hinged on that moment; no one wanted to man the booth at a trade show, so: rochambeau, then a coin flip.
And I met her there.

bythebay's avatar

@Knot: Lurve for fortuitous happenstance!

augustlan's avatar

Whatever it is, whatever we call it, I’ve experienced it many times myself. Both of the men I’ve married have seemed to be my destiny. Even though my first marriage ended in divorce, I still feel we were destined to be together for the time that we were. I don’t know how to account for it, but there it is.

syz's avatar

No. I have never felt that fate influenced my life. And as they used to sing on He-Haw, if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

theabk's avatar

I don’t believe in fate. I do think that our minds like to interpret coincidences or random happenings as occurring for a reason, probably because the ability to detect logical patterns and understand our experiences as a meaningful narrative is what allows us to survive as humans. So I can say “If I hadn’t decided at the last minute to go to this place on this day I wouldn’t have met so-and-so”, but what my brain will leave out is all the people I didn’t meet because of what I didn’t do.

In a similar way, we tend to interpret coincidences as more significant than they are, because we always notice when a coincidence occurs and never when it doesn’t occur. For example, when we meet someone who shares our birthday it seems notable and we remember it, but when we meet someone with a different birthday we never think, “Imagine that! That person has a different birthday than I do!” so the coincidence is what we remember, and coincidences subsequently seem more common, and more significant, than they are.

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