WORDS: Destiny by David Whyte

The Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

Destiny by David Whyte

From Consolations


always has a possessor, as in my destiny or your destiny or her destiny, it gives a sense of something we cannot avoid or something waiting for us, it is a word of storybook or mythic dimension.  Destiny is hardly used in everyday conversation; it is a word that invites belief or disbelief: we reject the ordering of events by some fated, unseen force or we agree that there seems to be a greater hand than our own, working at the edges of even the most average life.  But speaking of destiny not only grants us a sense of our own possibilities but gives us an intimation of our flaws, we sense, along with Shakespeare, that what is unresolved or unspoken in human character might overwhelm the better parts of ourselves.

When we choose between these two poles, of mythic triumph or fated failure, we may miss the everyday conversational essence of destiny: our future influenced by the very way we hold the conversation of life itself; never mind any actions we might take or neglect to take.  Two people, simply by looking at the future in radically different ways, have completely different futures awaiting them no matter their immediate course of action.  Even the same course of action, coming from a different way of shaping the conversation will result in a difficult outcome.  We are shaped by our shaping of the world and are shaped again in turn.  The way we face the world alters the face we see in the world.

Strangely, every person always lives out their destiny no matter what they do, according to the way they shape the conversation, but that destiny may be lived out on the level of consummation or complete frustration, through experiencing a homecoming or a distant sense of exile, or more likely some gradation along the spectrum that lies between.  It is still our destiny, our life, but the sense of satisfaction involved and the possibility of fulfilling its promise may depend upon a brave participation, a willingness to hazard ourselves in a difficult world, a certain form of wild generosity with our gifts; a familiarity with our own depth, our own discovered, surprising breadth and always, a long practiced and robust vulnerability equal to what any future may offer.

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