By: Chris Warren
Most people appeal to God or whatever they believe in to deliver on a big request. When the request is not granted, they are disappointed. It may take some time to realize it, perhaps even years, but in most of these cases being stopped by fate from getting what we wanted was the answer to a prayer.
Back in my younger years I went off to college with the intent of becoming an electronics technician. I had an unbreakable interest in electronics since I was in grade school and was very eager to pursue it as a career. Unfortunately, my passion as a hobbyist/experimenter did not translate into the classroom. By the end of my first year, I was washed out.
I changed direction and decided I wanted to be a high school English teacher. I had an aptitude for language and this time had the grades to prove it, so I thought it would be a good fit. Everything went as planned until I landed a teaching assignment at a small high school in rural Illinois and was given a class of my own. The students liked me, and I was an effective teacher, but I quickly realized that this was not what I wanted to do for the next thirty or so years.
Barely out of college, fate already put the brakes on my life plans, twice. Or maybe I was just clueless. Being stopped from making a bad move is good, but it does not really get you anywhere, either. At some point, you have to release the brakes and find a better route. My story has a happy ending: I went back to college and tried electronics again as more mature and disciplined student. I finished the degree program with excellent grades and ever since have prospered in a field doing what I’ve loved since I was a little kid.
Fate is as much about forcing us to look for a better way as it is about stopping us from going the wrong way. In that regard it’s a double-blessing. Stopping for anything is against what modern culture teaches us. We are conditioned to keep moving and making progress, yet high-achieving people will often say that being stopped from proceeding on one path and diverting to another is a major factor in their success.
What I get out of this is that fate is nature’s, or God’s, or whatever’s, second chance. There is no benefit in avoiding trouble if it does not lead you to something else. And most good things come only after some sort of hardship. Maybe that’s why so many people who are successful without any sacrifice (lottery winners, for example) disproportionately end up with broken relationships, broken careers, broken bank accounts.
I’m at a point in my life where I feel like it’s time to evaluate what my next move will be. I’m not unhappy and I don’t feel like I’m just sitting on the brakes, but fate has saved me from enough mistakes to make me more circumspect. Fate, it seems, is not a mysterious external “power” after all. It’s an intervention, a moment of realization, a warning, and a compass. It forces us to look for opportunities we might not otherwise notice and choose a different path.