Friendship and Fate

I should probably begin by saying that I do not believe in fate, destiny or that anything is “meant to be”. These imply purpose, which implies the presence and interference of external, supernatural forces in our lives. Anyone who reads here regularly will know that I file that sort of thing under the heading of bollocks, and more specifically, woo.

My disclaimer out of the way, it’s not really the point of this post. It’s not about criticizing people’s general belief in destiny, the stars or the Fates all of which henceforth I will refer to as “fate”, for the sake of simplicity.

There is one aspect of these beliefs, though, that’s been bugging me for quite a while, and I think it’s time I share my thoughts on the subject.

When recounting failed, broken or forgotten relationships, people who believe in fate often say things like, “It wasn’t meant to be”, or “It was only meant to be for a season” and other words to that effect.

It’s true that not all friendships last for ever, and that there’s not always a guilty party or someone to blame. People change and grow throughout life, not always at the same pace or in the same direction. This often leads to a parting of ways. Sometimes the parting is painful; sometimes it’s done with cherished memories and no hard feelings. Occasionally, the parting occurs without either party taking much notice at all. It depends upon the individual relationships and their dynamics.

Some fate-believing people, however, have a (very calloused) knack for categorizing every broken relationship as “not meant to be”. Even when the people with whom they have parted ways express pain or hurt feelings, certain fatalists refuse to take responsibility for their own behavior and how it can affect and even destroy friendship after friendship, relationship after relationship. Fate is at work, after all, and it was only meant to be for a season.

What a total crock!

This is often nothing more than the refusal to look honestly at oneself and own up to being insensitive, uncaring and selfish; a direct desire to avoid having been part of the reason for a life-long series of broken relationships.

The slightly amusing part is that, more often than not in my experience, we see this kind of behavior in people who claim to be deeply introspective and highly enlightened. I wonder how many of them would recognize themselves from someone else’s perspective; assuming, of course, that they actually have the ability to see things from someone else’s viewpoint.

Friendship needs to be nurtured and cared for: it requires mutual respect and consideration. It’s give and take, and that doesn’t mean one person does all the talking while the other does all the listening.

People who can leave others wounded in the wake of their self-centeredness, time and again, who can write off every failed relationship as “only meant to be for a season”, have no idea what true friendship is about. In a way, I pity them, for they may never experience the joy of true friendship, as I have.

There is a comfort in being loved and accepted in spite of, or perhaps even because of, your quirks and idiosyncrasies. There is a contentment in giving, if only by making a friend laugh, or reminding her how much she is cherished.

So, believe in fate all you please, but don’t use it as an escape hatch from the sinking ship of your own inability in relationships. Some friendships can last for ever, but they require far more than ‘the stars’ to make them shine.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On

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18 responses to “Friendship and Fate

  • B.T. Murtagh

    “Some things just weren’t meant to be” is an easier thing to say to a hurting friend than “You didn’t try hard enough” or “S/he didn’t care enough about you to make it work” or even “You two just weren’t ever going to make a match.”

    The latter preceded or followed by “You had to try to find out” is my preferred response to inevitably doomed relationships when they end. It’s not always the best of comforts to fatalists, but it has to beat “I told you so.”

  • Lottie

    Oh, I agree, B.T. I was referring to specific fatalists who consistently treat people like shit, and when their abusive behavior finally alienates those people, just shrug it off and attribute the broken relationship to “fate”.

    I understand where you’re coming from and, again, I agree. The wounded party doesn’t need to have salt rubbed in his or her wounds. It just chaps my ass when those who inflict the wounds, stroll away singing Que Sera Sera.

    Sometimes relationships just fizzle out — no harm, no foul. Other times, the failure is a direct result of shitty behavior by at least one of the parties involved.

    I, personally, find it highly offensive (like salt in a wound) when someone treats me like shit and then carries on like it was just “meant to be” that way. That’s the kind of thing I was talking about. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

    It’s good to hear from you, as always! 😀

  • thehun

    I think the preferred atheist/skeptic alternative is/should be “shit happens.” Because that is scientific FACT! 😀

    I really liked your last paragraph. It summed your article up perfectly.

    I was concerned that a person could use “shit happens” in the same way, mainly since that has generally been my attitude when the shit … err… happens.

    So then I had to run down the list of failed friendships/relationships. They can pretty much be categorized as:

    – moron/asshole
    – crazy
    – just fizzled

    I’m pretty confident I had each of those situations adequately figured out rather than blowing them off with some glib thought be it “fate happens” (NOT proven!) or “shit happens” (Fact!)

  • Lottie

    Sorry Matto! For some reason you comment got stuck in my spam filter.

    Bad Akismet! Bad! 😆

    And yes, shit happens! I have no problem with that, as long as people take responsibility for their own shit!
    😆

  • Nolan P.

    Through these last few years. I have become an increasingly firm believer in fate and destiny. With plenty of free will to spare.

    I have seen things that “happen too often” to be considered coincidence. Or luck. The world is replete with examples.

    In 1980, a young man topped off a very successful amateur career by making his country’s Olympic boxing team. He was considered their best hope yet to dethrone Cuba’s Teofilio Stevenson, a 2-time Olympic heavyweight champion.

    The fighter KNEW in his heart he could beat the Cuban, and had special motivation. For an entire decade, you see, Stevenson had shown a special knack for easily defeating, if out-right destroying, the young boxer’s countrymen. By working hard he earned a chance to pull off his redemptive feat for all the world to see. and win a gold medal in the process.
    However, he was part of what is referred to as “the ill-fated” U.S. Olympic boxing team. Because of the boycott, he never got his turn, Because of the boycott, perhaps, Teofilio’s destiny as 3-time Olympic champion was sealed.

    Not too long afterwards he and some other teammates were to fight in a big-international tournament in Germany. But for some apparent reason Tucker, passport-ready and bags in hand, missed the flight by a few scant minutes.
    Some could say it was bad luck or that, once again, it wasn’t HIS time yet:
    “It wasn’t meant to be.”

    Undoubtedly in bad spirits, the Michigan native had no choice but to fly back home, this time to California. It was only then, a few days later, did he learn the bad news: the airplane he was supposed to be on crashed and killed everyone on board, (“all of my best friends…”)

    His eyes wide-open now, he felt he was saved for a reason, and the greatness he felt inside him inside was confirmed. He said it was then that he realized that his destiny was to be heavyweight champion of the world.
    Only time would prove it to be it to be luck or fate…

    Tucker turned pro and won 36 straight fights.
    On April 30, 1987 he stopped James “Buster” Douglas to become the IBF heavyweight champion of the world.

    In his fight, he would engage in a battle to unify the title against another unbeaten slugger, a guy by the name of “Iron” Mike Tyson.

    Although, he hurt the favored fighter in the first round and give him trouble throughout, Tucker would lose by unanimous decision. He had suffered a small fracture to his right hand just days prior to the bout, though, which ended up breaking early in the fight.
    Had that not happened, perhaps Tucker would’ve been the undisputed champion of the world and not Tyson.

    But maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

    Maybe it wasn’t HIS time, but someone else’s…

  • Nolan Portillo

    The philosophy of fate is a legitimate one. Those who counter it must do so with just as much substance. I can see their reasoning and understand. And I am fully aware that fate shouldn’t be used as a coverall or as a convenience, with nothing to back it up with.
    Like the person-as-example who says it is fate time and again at the end of each and every relationship, to the point it renders its meaning to shallow excuse…

    This only reinforces skepticism. And rightly so, especially in first or second-person experiences. From the skeptic’s view, the fate argument is made ever-less valid and ever-more questionable when it comes from subject, or person, like the one described above.
    However, from a distance and over the long-run, the skeptic will see that the subject in question himself becomes a legitimate argument for the validity of fate.

    Because that person is 100% CORRECT!!! Each and every time!!!

    “It wasn’t meant to be.”

    Obviously that callous person wasn’t meant for the who was hurt.

    And vise-versa.

    “It was only meant for a season”

    Refusal to take responsibility, or to share blame, or work together dooms the relationship to be a short one. It can only last so long…

    The person’s inability or unwillingness to look his or her own fault’s will, in time, cut down friendships or relationships, and head off the number of new ones. The lack of personal growth will in effect stunt the blooming of a potentially good friendship or relationship. And will shortly-after whither away and die.
    Like flowers in a season.

    The longer the person remains stubborn and never opens up to reflect on the self, the more his or her fate is ensured.

    Having many short-lived relationships and friendships that will dwindle over time until they are alone…

    THAT will be their destiny.

  • Lottie

    Nolan,

    Thank you for your very thorough comments. I appreciate your taking the time.

    I think it’s worth reminding you and other readers of something I said in my post: It was not about refuting or criticizing general belief in fate, but about people taking personal responsibility in their relationships.

    However, I now have a responsibility, as author of this blog, to expose some of the holes in your arguments.

    A few things:

    The philosophy of fate is a legitimate one. Those who counter it must do so with just as much substance.

    I’m sorry, but no. You assert that “the philosophy of fate is a legitimate one”. The burden falls on you to prove or justify your claim. It is not my job to try and disprove it.

    From the skeptic’s view, the fate argument is made ever-less valid and ever-more questionable when it comes from subject, or person, like the one described above.

    The fate “argument” is invalid and questionable with or without the subject of my post.

    Because that person is 100% CORRECT!!! Each and every time!!!

    Only in the same way that hindsight is 20/20. Not very impressive.

    I have seen things that “happen too often” to be considered coincidence. Or luck. The world is replete with examples.

    Please take nine minutes to watch and listen to this presentation.

    A poor understanding of probability leads many people to put forward supernatural explanation for events that are far more common than they think.

    This video shows how probability theory is sufficient to explain even seemingly remarkable coincidences. — Doug aka Qualia Soup

    As for the rest of your comments, they are so loaded with circular reasoning and begging the question that I scarcely know where to begin. Even if I could find a starting point, I simply do not have the time or the drive, at the moment, to deal with it all.

    Thank you again for taking the time to comment so thoroughly.

  • Job Search, School and Frozen Bits « Rambling On

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  • dam

    This is truly a great post, Lottie. You wrote it so well.

    I’ve often had this conversation with people about fate: it takes responsibility out of the hands of the person who believes in fate. A lot of folks don’t get that because they see their lives as being influenced by a higher power. It is just hard for them to grasp a world and a life without “god.”

  • dam

    Yes, Lottie, I agree with your comments to Nolan. “Luck” was the precise word I thought of when I read the boxer story. Lady Luck.

  • Lottie

    Thank you for the nice compliment, Deb. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Terra

    I agree with the point of this message.

    As for the idea of fate itself, I am not a believer, but wish I was? It does make things simpler, much simpler.

    I do wonder if the point behind the post made by Nolan is something along the lines that if we believe in fate, and believe something to be true that we have the power to make it happen? In which case I would agree with that… 😉

  • Lottie

    I don’t know, Terra. There are some things that just are not going to happen not matter how much we believe or want them to. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t put forth our best effort, of course, just that sometimes the harsh realities of life override determination.

    Good to see you again by the way. Did you get a new keyboard?

  • Terra

    ROFL, I forgot who I was talking to! Yes, of course we have limitations. I should have said “with reason” in the above comment.

    I simply meant to point out that it appears that when people want to see fate as a true (and good) thing it appears to be a mind over matter type thing. The guy that is told he will never walk, then “miraculously” he does.

    After loosing my son, I was not “able” to have children anymore. To much scar tissue, a weak uterus (was cut all to heck when having Chanzhe), and on and on. If I did by chance get pregnant I wouldn’t be able to carry… It went on and on… I got pregnant, and decided I would carry her to term. (Katrina) I made adjustments to my life, it was miserable, the doctors decided to let me carry until 36 weeks. (Of course I went into labor the day before the scheduled c-section.)

    Friends say it was fate or God. I say it was mind over matter. I made a decision, I basically sat on my rear for 8 months, because I wanted it that badly. Looking back it was a horrible decision, I risked to much (thinking of Heaven), I am still glad I did if though. Now if I would have failed, because of limitations beyond my control, it still wouldn’t have been fate… Hopefully that makes better sense.

    Yes! I bought “The Virtually Indestructible Keyboard.” I cleaned the one on my laptop a little to well, and killed it…

  • Lottie

    ROFL, I forgot who I was talking to!

    Just call me Ms. Cynical. LOL

    Thank you for sharing your story. I better understand what you mean now. Sometimes you just have draw me a picture, huh?

    Sorry for you what you went through, but I’m glad you got your baby.

  • Nolan Portillo

    No problem.

    And thank you.

    I wasn’t trying to argue with you at all. I wasn’t really trying to put forth fate as an argument per se. I was saying that it is as legitimate as those who put forth a “non-fate” point of view.

    And I was using the case as an example for example’s sake.

    Kind of like the self-fulfilling prophecy type of deal.

    I don’t use fate to explain everything. It is something that has just set itself upon me, without my wanting to. There are coincidences, but after a while when does something stop being coincidence if it happens enough times…?

    Thank you for posting my stories, esp. on Tony Tucker. Lotta work. Lotta typing. But I enjoyed reading your blog and felt compelled to get in the mix. Excellent stuff.

    Peace.

  • Lottie

    Thank you for the nice comment about my blog, Nolan. I must admit to being confused, though. I wasn’t aware that I had posted any stories by you. I don’t generally post other people’s work, so I feel like I would remember. Are you sure you don’t have me confused with someone else?

  • Nolan Portillo

    Hey can you please delete my comments? I don’t know jack shit. Thanks!

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