I am traveling to Europe shortly to see family and old friends. While the advent and affordability of modern air travel at times shrinks the world to proportions seemed unimaginable even a generation ago, like all things in life – choice – our decisions we freely have the ability to make– has a huge impact on our life. Should I book that flight to see my dear friend or not? What is holding me back? How much longer will I wait until that choice is taken away from me? As I have been learning in my journey – these decisions are mine and mine alone to make. The obstacles preventing us from making many decisions is; fear, anxiety and uncertainty of the aftermath. We seek and desire guarantees in life. We dread the decision resulting in a negative outcome – so often times we simply make what we think is a non-decision. But you know that that too is a decision and a choice.
Do you believe in fate? I myself have wrestled with that concept. Friends have said to me that the reconciliation with my father was clearly guided by forces not under my control. That the peculiar circumstances that transpired over the past several years were all pieces of popcorn placed in the forest and I was helplessly picking up one kernel after the other leading me back to him after forty-two years. One of my yoga instructors to whom I have immense gratitude, said the following in our class several months ago; “Everything you have ever done in your life, led you to be on your mat at this time, in this place.” So the question is, “how did I arrive here?
If we think critically enough, we will see how in less than an instant, an opportunity to turn left or right, to stare down at your mobile device or walk with your head held up to see what or whom is before you, to ask that distressed individual how they are or ignore them, or to look up in the sky at the airplane while riding your bike or be focused on the path (yep – I “looked up” this summer and survived to write about it here). Is that fate, or do we freely make decisions? If you suggest that the decisions we make are fate, then I will propose that we are nothing but robots and therefore there is no substantive meaning in our life. However, I see us as creatures that are freethinking, intellectual and sentient beings.
Thirty-three years ago I arrived at a kibbutz in Israel to began a year of traveling – the experiences and individuals very much with me to this day. I met people from all over the world. I chose to befriend some – tolerated others as they befriended or tolerated me. I remain friends with some who are exceptionally special souls. One such person with whom I will see on this upcoming trip I will find in Europe.
Reconciling with my father only a few short months before his passing was life changing for me. But I am fully cognizant of the active choices I made in making that happen and fundamentally changing the narrative (mine) that had plagued certain obstacles of our past.
So I ultimately don’t believe that “fate” took control of my life. I do however believe that I orchestrated my life and I will continue to do so. I made decisions. I choose to bring my father back into my life. I am choosing to visit that dear friend in Europe. As we amble through life we will actively allow people into our life that can dramatically impact that life. The trick is – we are never quite sure who they will be … Keep your head up.
I remember when you went to the kibbutz. I went to India that year. We were the two non-Christians on 3rd Lanark and we had spoken about how we were a part of things but also alienated because you are Jewish and I a Hindu. We were making our trips to discover ourselves. We were supposed to meet up in France and then on to Spain. A few days before I was to leave Mumbai I got a letter from you saying that you had decided to stay on Israel. I was so angry at you for you had ruined my plans. I was so ready to leave the restrictions of my strict Brahmin family let loose. I know that trip defined you and that it was the beginning of your spiritual journey but for me it was the beginning of the end. You and I were becoming very different people. It took a very long time but I am glad to get to know you again. Good luck with your present journey.
Thank you for sharing that with me Aruna – I never knew this was the case. And thank you for your role in all of this – I have much gratitude to you.
We’ve both grown up since then. Back then it never really occurred to me that we would be middle aged one day. But I think if the 23 year old us was to see how we turned out they’d be okay with it.
The one piece of writing I have of you from those days is the wedding card you gave me. It has a picture of a bride in boxing gloves. I will have to show it to you one day.