We are all on our own journeys. We all have a separate path that we must follow. On our journey, we may come across many others. Some we will just meet for a moment and then carry on with our separate paths. Some will go in our direction and we will get to spend more time together. But even then, we will be on our separate paths. We might walk side by side, but still only we know how our path looks like. No one else will experience our paths like we do. No one else will experience our happiness and pains like we do. Each one of us will have a unique experience.
On our path, we will encounter many things. Some good, some bad. Even good and bad are defined by our own subjective view. What is good for me might be bad for the one walking next to me.
We are only responsible for our own journey. It’s not even possible to understand why someone else is taking a certain path, let alone be able to change it for someone else. We can’t even change our own pre-destined paths.
Fate, Destiny or Karma
Whatever pain and happiness we get is predestined. We have little control over it. It may be the Karma from our previous births or simply what the fates have decided for us. In any case, all we can do is bow down and accept the fate. Embrace it like it is the best thing to happen to us. Stoics call it Amor Fati.
It doesn’t mean we are not responsible for our own actions. Rather, our actions and our thoughts are the only two things we have complete control over.
So, we are responsible for taking actions but have no control over the results. This is the core teaching of Gita as well.
Coming back to our life’s journey or the path that we have to follow – We might not have any control over which path is assigned to us or what hurdles or treasures may be stored on the path. We do not have control over who we meet on our journey or for how long. But we have control over what we do when we meet our fate. What we do when things go as per our expectations or when things go horribly wrong? What do we do when the path brings us to an unexpected turn?
In my opinion, we can just accept the fate and keep moving.
Accept our limitations.
Accept that we are not in control.
Accept that controlling the external world is not our purpose to begin with.
What we need to do is to follow our virtues. Our principles, our moral values, are what that defines us. And it is very easy to have integrity in easy times. But are we capable of holding ourselves to the same moral standards when the path is not easy? Do our values change?
And there is no one right answer to this. Sometimes, if we realize that the values we have held on to for a long time are flawed, then we must learn to let it go as well. We must let go of every value that no longer serves us or the world. As humans, we have a higher responsibility. We must have virtues and values that will not only make us a better version of ourselves, but also make this world a better place.
So, we covered that we all have our own paths that are unique to us. We don’t know what we will face. We can just control our thoughts and actions and hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards. And the last thing that is important to remember is that we must not get attached to anything.
End of the Journey
Our paths may be different, but every one of us is headed in the same direction. Ultimately, we all will reach the same destination and that is death. Every day, we are moving closer to our destination. Doesn’t matter if we are running or doing everything in our power to slow it down. We will all face death sooner or later.
Remembering death, or like the stoics say – Memento mori – is a good way to keep us grounded. We may feel that happiness is our goal, but ultimately, it is death that we will encounter at the end of this path. It can make us sad or make us happy, but nothing can change the fact that death is the only guarantee in life. Everything else is optional.
After talking about death, what is remaining? The only thing I can think of is to take each day, each step at a time. Not bothering what is in store for us next. Whatever it is, we can deal with it. Whatever we might encounter on our path will be temporary, be it pain or happiness. Who ever we meet on our respective journey will be with us only for a little while.
So, enjoy the journey. Enjoy whatever experiences you encounter. Either it will bring you happiness or pain, accept both with the same humbleness. Cherish whoever you meet on your way. You never know how long you might have with them. You never know if other’s path will bring them closer to you or you are already on a diverging path.