Do I believe in fate? I’m not too sure. But what I do know is that there’s something out there looking out for me. About a year ago or so, my little brother (who’s six now) started karate at a studio near our house in Boulder, Colorado. He had been studying for a few months and went in one day after seeing a demonstration by one of the studio’s instructors , when he came home and said to me,

“Joel, Joel, Joel!! I’ve found the perfect DATE GIRL for you!!”

Now of course I was thinking that he had found some cute little girl who was probably way too young for me, so I naturally blew it off. I disregarded it even more when my parents began to agree with him on the subject. Not that I had any prejudice against her for any reason, for I had never met her, but I just couldn’t imagine how a six year old knows how to pick out girls for his 18 year old brother to date. It also didn’t help that I had just started dating another girl (whom I eventually dated for just over 8 months.)

So Daniel forgot about the date girl and I did too, till about a month after I broke up with Sarah. I had lunch with Sarah a month or so after breaking up with her, just to tie up loose ends, and that’s when it hit me: I was over her. Granted I had broken up with her, but she also hurt me pretty badly. It was not that pretty of a breakup and it took me a little while to fully let go. In any case, that following Tuesday night, [Tuesday July 18th 2000, to be exact my friend Taylor and I were out driving around and had just decided not to go to a certain club to see a DJ that was playing there. It so happened that he wasn’t going to come on ‘till around midnight and I had to work the next day, so we decided to just call it a night and head on back.

On our way back across Boulder a light turns red and so of course the good drivers and upstanding citizens that we are, we stop, and up beside us pulls up a blue 4Runner. A 1988 blue 4Runner to be exact. She pop’s her head out of the driver’s window begins a little exchange with us:

“How old are you guys?” Becky said.
What’s your number?

So I gave her my number and then at the next light I asked for hers, where right after I did she was a little giddy, as was I, after having someone ask for her number and almost ran the red light we were at. We couldn’t stop laughing. It was hilarious.

That next day I called her up and we started talking about stuff and things. After a little while we started talking about jobs and she mentions that she teaches karate in a studio in Boulder. I mention to her that Daniel, my little bro studies at a studio in Boulder, and as it turns out she works at the same studio. And what’s more, she’s also the DATE GIRL that Daniel was talking about the 9 or 10 months prior. I don’t know if it was fate or what but there was something at work there. What’s more is that she and I are still going strong. It will be 4 months this Sunday and I have to say that even after only 4 months I love her more than anyone or anything that I’ve ever loved before. Even after that 8-month stint I spent with my ex-girlfriend I’ve never felt like this before. It’s the most wonderful feeling that I’ve ever felt before. Just the feeling of knowing that someone out there thinks the world of you is a great feeling.

fate (n) - the tendency of reality to follow a seemingly pre-determined path; often accompanied by the statement "everything happens for a reason".

The concept of fate seems, at first to be complete unrelated and unimportant to philosophy. It is more often used in the context of infatuated teenagers that state that they were brought together by a supernatural sense of destiny that wanted nothing more than to see them together. However, upon further examination, the idea of fate is central to many philosophical questions:

Nature vs. Nurture

This debate has a very simple basis - the question of whether or not a person's human characteristics are more (or entirely) attributable to one's chemical / genetic make-up or the manner in which that person was raised. However, these two theories (or amalgamations thereof) unite on the assumption that personality traits and physical characteristics do not allow for variations in decision of the person whose human nature is in question (person x, for the sake of discussion). While person x does have the ability to make decisions, the decisions that he or she will make is directly output of only his or her environment or genetics. The Nurture theory takes into account the decisions a parent makes, however, those decisions are again directly determined by person x's grandparents and so forth. Adversely, Nature takes into account the decision of whom with which to mate, which is again a direct output of person x's parents' genetics. Here is the concept of fate in both these theories: what you are is because of the situations surrounding your creation. What you are is what you were logically (or supernaturally) meant to be.

Behaviorism / Freudian Psychology vs. Humanism

The origin of personality, while discussed in Nature vs. Nurture theories, is more deeply pondered in the three leading personality theories. Behaviorism (considered to be fathered by B. F. Skinner) and Freudian Psychology both fall under the Nature vs. Nurture category in that they don't consider it possible for random changes in personality based on self decisions. In other words, both do not include the concept of free will in their theories. Humanism, being much more idealistic, depends on two principles: Humankind is basically good and every individual is endowed with free will. Differently from the last theory, fate is the point of seperation in these ideologies. B. F. Skinner and Freud would say that fate is the only logical approach to personality while the Humanism school of thought would say that fate holds no bounds on our futures as an individual.

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design & The Big Bang or Inflation Theories vs. Creationism

The classic battle of religion against science also centers around fate.
If we are to believe the scientific theories as they are stated as well as the concept of fate, we can follow this logical path: If everything happens for a reason, everything has a cause. The cause of everything must also have a cause. Therefore, everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, is caused by the first event. This leads to the belief that the entire course of history in the universe was held in the nearly-infitessimal point of matter at time 0. On the other hand, Intelligent Design/Creationism as it applies to fate results in a paradox - how can one have God-given free will if everything that happens (including everything an individual does) for a reason? If an individual choses to do something senseless or extremely damaging, it does not seem to fit under the concept of fate.

The final point - Is anything random?

Randomness is the state of being wholly unpredictable or having no pattern whatsoever. This idea is wholly scary to some - the idea that there are things that don't have rhyme or reason. But in all our humanly power, mankind has been unable to generate something as simple as a random number. Computer random number generators are based on events or numbers that are very hard to predict, such as the millisecond that the random number is asked for. However, this quantity is not random.

Belief in fate requires a certain amount of faith. But, it seems, not believing in fate does as well. As long as man can't find anything truly random, it is impossible to say for sure that fate does or does not exist. It's a point to ponder.

The Last Thing

As the day disappears into night,
And the wrap of the stars is unwound,
And our tissues tumesce
For our fluids confessed
To the ways that our bodies allow;

And the seed opens up to the sky
To make work for the far-sighted bee,
And to brown in the light,
Try to bloom as it might,
To be felled into plain potpourri;

Anything that has walked or just set,
That has breathed, or been breathed, or just been,
Has an end, its fair cause,
By the pure natural laws,
And will rank among all of its kin

In the ground where all death is the same,
And what’s been is itself in the past,
And has little to do
With the world reborn new
But except what that thing had done last.

Late on a Monday night
and beneath a bed
(large enough to cause
the muscles in the back
of a middle-aged man
to become badly twisted
when he tries to lift it)
a stray cat hides in the exact
center as though the spot there
was measured by machinery
far more expensive than this ordinary
household will ever afford.

As a consequence
of the effort required
to remove this shabby animal
from the place it hoped
would afford a warm reprieve
from a Texan night in January
the bed frame is separated
from the little coasters its feet stand on
and many pillows
are scattered on the floor
as if crumpled clouds
unhooked from their regular sky.

Foolishly (and having consigned
the stray cat to the darkness)
a father with his back stiffening
mentions over a mother's shoulder
to a ten year old boy
lying in another bed altogether
the details of his previous struggle
and thus does the boy
in a desperate effort to delay
a similar erasure of the light
beg for a moment
to see the wreckage for himself.

The mother suggests otherwise
but in doing so (suggesting,
rather than denying the request
with proper and sufficient authority)
she signals to the child
that his way up the stairs
to his parents' bedroom
is in fact wide open
and within the single minute
it takes for the father to leave
and then come back again
the boy seizes his chance to run.

Later, not much later,
(but in a little while longer
than both parents' naively anticipate)
the child hears the father's footsteps finally
coming up the uncarpeted stairs
to find his son and this sound
causes the boy to suddenly appear
and in passing and casually
does he hold up his right hand
and mention he is cut
and indeed it appears most certainly
that blood is thereby leaking.

It transpires (beyond the wall
the father is listening through)
that the boy had become distracted
by a pair of scissors
and attempted
to cut open an item
encased in plastic packaging
and it was this unnecessary task
that led him to the little snip
(that consumer's circumcision)
deeply and across his fingertip
that his mother pale and aflutter
now tries to staunch.

All the while and as the clock ticks
the boy explains the event
and commentates in great detail
as to the mother's remedial actions.
He asks to lick the Neosporin
that is applied to the wound
and apologizes politely
when his request is angrily rejected.
All in all it is a good test
for his worried mother
who is completely torn between
his injury and evident procrastination.

In the dark of the garden
the stray cat observes the bathroom light
and the racoons that are gathering
and the possum that may have leprosy
according to an article in the local paper
the cat has certainly not read.
A train goes by its whistle blowing
while the temperature continues to fall
and Fate glides on thinking to itself alone
how people only consider its presence
in times of great or dreadful import
when in fact it is always and everywhere at work.


Fate (?), n. [L. fatum a prophetic declaration, oracle, what is ordained by the gods, destiny, fate, fr. fari to speak: cf. OF. fat. See Fame, Fable, Ban, and cf. 1st Fay, Fairy.]


A fixed decree by which the order of things is prescribed; the immutable law of the universe; inevitable necessity; the force by which all existence is determined and conditioned.

Necessity and chance Approach not me; and what I will is fate. Milton.

Beyond and above the Olympian gods lay the silent, brooding, everlasting fate of which victim and tyrant were alike the instruments. Froude.


Appointed lot; allotted life; arranged or predetermined event; destiny; especially, the final lot; doom; ruin; death.

The great, th'important day, big with the fate Of Cato and of Rome. Addison.

Our wills and fates do so contrary run That our devices still are overthrown. Shak.

The whizzing arrow sings, And bears thy fate, Antinous, on its wings. Pope.


The element of chance in the affairs of life; the unforeseen and unestimated conitions considered as a force shaping events; fortune; esp., opposing circumstances against which it is useless to struggle; as, fate was, or the fates were, against him.

A brave man struggling in the storms of fate. Pope.

Sometimes an hour of Fate's serenest weather strikes through our changeful sky its coming beams. B. Taylor.

4. pl. [L. Fata, pl. of fatum.] Myth.

The three goddesses, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, sometimes called the Destinies, or Parcaewho were supposed to determine the course of human life. They are represented, one as holding the distaff, a second as spinning, and the third as cutting off the thread.

⇒ Among all nations it has been common to speak of fate or destiny as a power superior to gods and men -- swaying all things irresistibly. This may be called the fate of poets and mythologists. Philosophical fate is the sum of the laws of the universe, the product of eternal intelligence and the blind properties of matter. Theological fate represents Deity as above the laws of nature, and ordaining all things according to his will -- the expression of that will being the law.


Syn. -- Destiny; lot; doom; fortune; chance.


© Webster 1913.

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