We’re going to get a little metaphysical today. It’s mostly just my brain dumping out a few things that have been bouncing around it along with the usual earworms. It’s funny the things you find yourself thinking about when left with a quiet moment at work or at home. Or in the car. I do a lot of random thinking in the car.
“Is it written in the stars?” – Elton John and Tim Rice
When I was younger, I used to be a big fan of astrology. I’d dutifully check my horoscope every morning as I read the comics before school. I was never so into it that I decided I couldn’t leave the house because of something my horoscope said. In the interests of full disclosure, one of the things I was into was checking the my compatibility with my crushes. I was in high school. It was the thing to do. In the age before Facebook, it was a more difficult thing to do since birthdays were sometimes a challenge to discover. In any event, I gave up on that some time ago.
Ultimately, I think I gave up on astrology because it bothered me to think that my actions were dictated by some sort of outside force. I’m just not fond of not having that sort of control when it comes to my life and my actions. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I ended up choosing the spiritual path I did. There’s a little more wiggle room in my life with my gods. That’s another story for another blog. Here’s were we do the geek thing.
Destiny and the idea that there are some events that are meant to happen is a huge theme in all kinds of fiction. Gandalf even suggests that perhaps Frodo was meant to carry the ring as Bilbo may have been meant to find it. There are prophecies and fated lovers. It’s everyone’s favorite theme. Okay, maybe not favorite, but it’s really ridiculously common.
What is it about the idea of destiny that’s so appealing?
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare
Destiny is not just a common theme: it’s universal. Throughout the ages, there have been so many stories about destiny. They have been about how people have tried to circumvent it, bring it about, and just walk along their directed path. While I am not as well-versed in Eastern literature as I am in Western literature, I am fairly confident that my comment about the universality of the theme still holds true. I just wanted to throw that little caveat in there.
So, why do we do it?
The concept of destiny fits in a number of settings and doesn’t need as much explanation to get buy-in from your audience. It’s also something that speaks to the beliefs of a number of individuals. People like the idea that some things are destined to happen. For example, there’s the belief that you may one day find your soul mate. That ties neatly in with the idea that there is someone destined to be with you. I’ll admit that it’s a problematic example for a number of reasons, but that would likely result in a blog post about romance. We’ll put a pin in that one and save it for later.
There are likely a few psychological and sociological studies out there about why we’re so attracted to the idea of destiny. There are probably even more pieces of documentation out there to describe how destiny is a major theme in a great many fictional works. Maybe I’ll go ahead and revisit this idea for some sort of research paper or something later. You know. For fun. I do those sorts of things sometimes.
While I’m not exactly sure where I really planned to go with this blog post, I’m just going to say that there are many who find the idea of destiny comforting. It’s nice to know that everything that’s happened has happened due to some mystical plan. Some people completely reject that notion. Others fall somewhere in between. Regardless of their stances, it’s one of the more enduring themes in all forms of media. It’s a neat thing to ponder when reading books or just watching movies or TV shows.
I’d love to hear from you all as to why you think people keep on using destiny in their fiction. Sound off in the comments or on the Book of Faces.