Philosophy Friday once again….
Free will. Or destiny? Are we in control of our own lives, or are we just playing out a script already written – by God, life, the universe, or whatever/whoever.
I can’t think of a way that we could prove an answer to this one way or the other. If we try to assert our free will by deliberately doing something unexpected or contrary to character, it could be argued that we were destined to make that self-asserting decision.
Conversely, if we try to prove that our lives are governed by destiny by always going with the flow of events, it could be argued that we have made a conscious choice to go with the flow, thereby asserting our free will.
So I would come at this question from a different angle. Which option makes me feel better? Do I prefer the notion that I am in charge of my own life? Or do I prefer to feel that somebody or something else is running the show? My personal preference is to believe that I am in charge.
Of course, I fully acknowledge that I am never entirely in control – my life will be affected by the era that I live in, the family I was born into, the actions of other people, random chance, and so on. A better way of putting it, then, rather than saying that I am in charge of my life, is to say that I take responsibility for my life. No matter what happens to me, or around me, I am still free to choose how I will respond to it. Even Viktor Frankl* in the concentration camp, with no personal liberty at all, was still able to choose how he would conduct himself.
But other people may find it more comfortable to believe that they have a destiny – that they were destined to play a particular role, do a particular job, marry a particular person. I’ll say it again, different people look at the same world and draw different conclusions, depending on their own unique blend of personality traits.
There was a moment in my life when I thought I heard destiny calling. It was when the urge came upon me to start rowing across oceans to promote environmental and personal awareness. Those of you who have read my book (Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean
But over the years I’ve come to see that moment in a different light (different lightbulb!). Before that pivotal moment I had already defined the criteria for whatever my new life direction would be. And I was completely open to receiving an answer. I knew that ocean rowing existed, and had even met a couple of people who had rowed oceans – although it was not something that had appealed at the time.
So I now see it this way: I had tucked all these ideas away in my subconscious, where they had quietly got on with the job of synthesising themselves into a fully-formed answer which, in an unguarded moment, suddenly popped out of the subconscious realm and into my conscious mind. And instantly I knew it to be perfect – because, after all, it was the product of my own desires.
And this, I think, is why some things feel like destiny. It seems as if everything in our lives has been preparing us for this course of action. We can’t quite believe how perfectly it fits us. But the fit is perfect precisely because, subconsciously, we have created it ourselves.
I think there is more that needs to be said on the subject of free will and destiny, in relation to our immediate future on this Earth. Tom raised a question that I would like to address in a future blog: What good is free will if we have an aversion to all our choices? But a) this blog was long enough already, and b) I’d be interested to hear from you with comments on the above and how it relates to present challenges. Bring ’em on!
At last the rough conditions have subsided. I am celebrating, and apparently so are the fish. The dorados have been going nuts, leaping and backflipping as if trying out for the Olympics. Maybe they are.
To add to my store of happiness, I got the electrical system working again. The Sunsaver Duo unit was, not to put too fine a point on it, completely buggered. So I have now bypassed it. It wasn’t straightforward – initially my solution did not work. In desperation I started flipping switches, and found that, bizarrely, the batteries will only charge when both fore and aft batteries are turned on. But who cares? It works! Hurrah!
I called Glen, the Australian electrician who came out to the Abrolhos when I had a problem with the system before. I just wanted to ask him a couple of questions about running the system without the Sunsaver unit, but we ended up having quite a nice chat. He told me I was on Australian TV a few nights ago, for having passed halfway and having eaten a TimTam. He didn’t say which of these was the headline of the news item.
Now that the waves have subsided, I decided it was time to pump out the water from the lockers. For a while it was quite useful having it there as extra ballast, but now that the wind has subsided it makes the boat very heavy. My boat is now sitting several inches higher in the water – but mostly on the port side. We are listing. I have redistributed various items but may have to resort to pumping some water back in again. Sigh.
Sara Gordon – thank you for your kind message. I see that The Climate Project is being rebranded as Climate Reality. I hope this reflects a new sense of urgency – we need it!
Pamela Green – you are too kind. I don’t yet feel worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King… but I’m working on it! 😉
Aimee – your Solidarity Sunset spent with an Abba tribute band sounds just perfect. I grew up on Abba, and still abbasolutely love their music. Nothing like Dancing Queen to lift the spirits!
Thank you, Mat, Grace, Callum, Fraser & Freya Ellis for the sponsored miles. Mat, how our lives have changed since UBS all those years ago….
Henrik – great to hear from you! I was invited to do the Arctic voyage next year, but at that time I was planning to be on the North Atlantic. That plan has now changed… but now they have filled their speaker slots. But hopefully I will get there in 2013, if not before. Hope to see you then!
Photo: I’m trying to get a photo of a jumping dorado, but it’s not easy. Almost got this one – just a split second after he splashed back into the water. Doh!
Quote: “Sow a habit, reap a destiny”
Quote 2: “We must believe in free will. We have no choice.” (Isaac Bashevis Singer) Haha.
Latest podcast is now available: Episode 44: It’s a Jungle Out There.
Sponsored Miles: Grateful thanks today go to Bonnie Sterngold, Amanda Reader, Julian Hamm, Emma John, Daniel Collins, Sally Phillips, Rolando Cuadrado, Terence Liu, Chris Ferreira, Wayne Batzer, Bruce Gervais, Nancy Bowman, Amanda Atkins and Courtney Elwood who between them have sponsored 22 of the 35 miles Roz has rowed since yesterday morning. A word of thanks, too, to a number of people who have been making monthly payments to Roz for a long time – one of whom is also mentioned today for sponsoring miles.