The concept of destiny implies that we have come to earth with a mission or focus. To forge ahead in life without reflecting on the unique personal nature of experiences, the feelings they arouse and how those feelings expand our awareness is to observe rather than engage. When we engage, we are becoming more aware of our thoughts, actions, and their consequences, hopefully leading to better choices in the future.
While it is easy to reflect on what we may perceive as more positive moments, what about those times when we experience pain, conflict or ongoing challenges? Medical Intuitive Caroline Myss speaks to this in her book, Sacred Contracts. She offers that before the soul incarnates, it determines what’s needed for growth. As this is, in a sense, predetermining one’s own destiny, we then choose which “teachers” can best help us achieve our life purpose. Though we all lose memory of these contracts at birth, there are yet agreements in place where we play roles for one another, presenting all involved with growth opportunities.
In many cases, our best teachers are our greatest adversaries. From parents to partners, we may discover that pain and adversity met through such encounters are necessary contributions to self-awareness. It is well known in certain spiritual traditions that suffering deepens understanding of what it is to be human. Liking or not liking pain and struggle are less important than enlarging one’s understanding of life, facilitating a more compassionate outlook.
Accepting pain as part of life paradoxically creates the potential to experience inner harmony. Although this concept may be difficult to grasp when we are in the throes of adversity, we can continually remind ourselves that the nature of life is cyclical. This gives rise to hope that we will emerge from our current situation with more strength and wisdom. Once the tension created from resistance abates, we may well experience joy as our senses have already been piqued by the painful encounter. This is presuming, of course, that we do not mask or medicate pain, but rather feel and experience it deeply with an open heart.
Open-hearted living can be challenging. If we are not vigilant, we might confuse the mythic Hero or Heroine’s journey, depicted in such beautifully crafted films as Spirited Away and Whale Rider with less evolved plots designed merely to heighten our senses or escalate our fears while garnering producers and studio magnates both accolades as well as financial reward.
Living in today’s society means that many of us have been moving too quickly to take time to honor rites of passage, observe sacred ritual, or to live our lives with deep, mythic significance. Popular media offers what appears to be a quick fix, for it may borrow the fantasy-like images and rapturous feelings from myth and project them onto the screen. This sets us up for longing, but much of this longing has an external object of desire. These fantasy projections are often cast onto other human beings, where they are found to be lacking or at the very least fleeting. What everyday Hero or Heroine can match the strength of Rocky, or the physical beauty of a (Charlie’s) Angel? It becomes unfair for us to expect another person to carry these projections, the source of which is deeply personal and symbolic in nature. When our all-important life’s journey seems insignificant as compared to a superbeing saving the world, we are left with disappointment and feelings of failure. On the other hand, when media inspires us to acknowledge our part in the current awakening of human consciousness, when we observe characters working through situations which parallel our own life challenges, we can accept a more grounded version of reality permeated with the magic of the Mystery. Many consider this nourishment for the soul.
Making time to nourish the soul includes reflective time where we allow the deeper parts of ourselves to integrate experience. When we find ourselves trying to reduce life to something rational or logical; when we measure the soul’s journey by a yardstick borrowed from our work ethic, we might expect life to grant us a fairy tale, happily-ever-after existence in exchange for all the hard self-improvement work we have been doing. It is then helpful to remind ourselves life is what it is, that as surely as the sun rises, night will fall. Challenges will present themselves, and we can meet and move through them. They are key to us welcoming our destiny with as little resistance as possible. As we emerge from each challenge hopefully wiser, we more fully appreciate life’s little gifts, like the perfection of an unfolding flower or the grace of a hawk in flight. A deep attention to what is always around us elicits profound gratitude.
If we embrace life’s journey with attentiveness to the symbolic meaning inherent in all things, we become more discerning as a heightened awareness begins to permeate daily living. The attachment to our personal agenda becomes less overriding as we open ourselves to what is placed before us. We both actively make choices in life and let life come as it will. It is in holding this balance that we may discover greater levels of inner peace. We are less guarded by our fears of what is unknown, for we realize we are not in control of what lies ahead. In essence, we move into our destiny with openness and acceptance.
Imagine destiny as a river, flowing through the core of our lives. On the banks of this river are structures, houses, farms and businesses which inevitably will crumble and turn to dust. We remain busy throughout our lives, building, remodeling, tearing down, rebuilding. Still, the river flows on. We might move downstream, upstream or further away, yet it continues along throughout time, unchanged but for humans attempting to alter its course or its nature. Eventually though, even dams will disintegrate, and on and on the river flows. We might distract ourselves, yet even in this process of diversion, we deepen our experience of the river. Though we might not touch onto its banks for years at a time, when we do, we perceive it differently. We notice things about it that were not obvious before. In this way, we have not lost track of our destiny. It is foundational. Our peripheral experiences, whether painful or blissful, contribute to our perception of the river. And perhaps that’s how it is meant to be.