There are days when I wonder how much of our lives are predestined, and how much is truly left to us, to chance, to a simple choice made. Do I go to McDonald’s or stay home and whip up some eggs? Do I get up at 10am or noon? Do I live or die?

There are times when we all experience that sense of deja vu, the sense that what is happening has already happen. Times when life feels like a badly filmed re-run as you watch the hockey game. It jumps up and bitch slaps me at least once a week. Of course, there is also the business of psychics, those bestowed with the ability to know the future (for $9.99 a minute of course). Prophetic dreams, visions of what is to be, warnings from beyond the grave - all these things suggest that our futures are laid down upon the pages of time and we, unknowingly, are merely turning pages. We would like to believe we have control, that we are in charge of our destinies. But are we?

How often has someone told you over a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia that your recently departed lover may not be gone forever, that "if it’s meant to be you will find your way back together"? We console ourselves with fate almost daily. "Everything happens for a reason" screams out the real truth: that this event, A, must come before something better later, B. There are those who believe that our lives are already determined and we are but mice scurrying along the maze. In the end, no matter how many twists and turns we may take, the result is the same: we find the fucking cheese, and it’s over. We are plucked out of the maze and deposited into our resting place. If life were merely fate, what joy is there for us? Why try to make a difference in this world? Why feel empowered when you have effected change - after all, the only reason you have done so is because fate decreed it to be your destiny. The concept of predestination and fate can be found in Shakespeare’s classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. "A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life". Is it all in the stars? Are we merely puppets with intangible string? If so, then what does life mean to us?

Or is life truly shaped from our every action and choice, a mound of clay waiting to be pulled and formed into a shape? If I hold off on leaving the house for half an hour, perhaps I will avoid being on the bus that breaks down, as buses eventually do each day. If I break up with someone I love madly and endure emotional turmoil because things are a bit rough, will I regret it even when I am 60 and living with a lover of 20 years? Or will I, by enduring the chaos, end up with someone even better for me and have the former lover be a godparent to my children? This of course presents us with the greener grass paradigm: which path, which choice, will yield the maximum of proverbial pasture enjoyment with the least effort put forth? If life truly is completely up to us, up to our every action, then we have no one but ourselves to blame should life be unsatisfying.

Girls and boys, say it with me. What. A. Fucking. Depressing. Burden.

By this way of thinking, if I’m a miserable thirty-something, it’s because I didn’t choose well. And this is the equivalent of the nightmare known as depression. "It’s all my fault!!" Soon you find yourself crying when someone dies of cancer in Greenland because you wonder if your decision to use an aerosol hairspray in the big hair 80's led to ozone depletion and thus gave the poor old chap cancer. You begin to over-analyze your every moment, your every decision. And then, truly, your choices affect your destiny. You end up 40, with grey hair, wrinkles like war-time trenches in your forehead and a pair of friends named peptic and ulcer. Your best friends, having tired of your neuroticism which can better be described as hysteria, have deserted you, leaving you with a cat and a bottle of Tums to keep you company as you watch old Julia Roberts movies and bemoan ever stopping to give your every day such careful consideration. But by then, it’s too late. Life has passed you by baby and there ain’t nothin’ and I mean NOTHIN’ that can bring it back.

So what do we do? What are we to think? Is life a scripted suburban wasteland? Or is it a freestyle rap competition, where we all take hold of a mic and break it down as best we can, flying by the seat of our hanging-past-the-ass pants? There is what is called balance. The cosmic middle ground. Those of us who come to this land know that fate has a general guiding duty, similar to guard rails on the highway. They define the limits of our life, provide some idea of which way is right and which way is the way to the city morgue. They let us know that not all of us can become physicists or astronauts. But what we can choose, is which precise route we take. In the end, we all reach that same destination. But along the way, no matter what exit we take or what lane we travel in, we are sure to pass certain landmarks. You are bound to pass the McDonald’s with cobwebs in the bathroom (which is good because you’ll need them for toilet paper in this dump). You are bound to hit a radar cop to trip you up and set you back. You’re bound to find gas stations, the things in life that refuel us, give us strength to continue on when we’re running on empty. You’ll meet the friendly people, the assholes, the guy in the Mercedes who cuts off your poor little Toyota and snickers at your mode of transportation. The raccoon who tried to cross the road and never made it to the other side. Along the way, you have choices: routes to take, lanes to change in and out of, whether or not to rear end the fucker who cut you off and gave you whiplash from jamming on the brakes. These choices will shape your destiny, your feelings, your life on this little journey. But in the end, there is something to fall back on, some semblance of support, something greater that we cannot control.

And that is a beautiful thing. Because when we fail, we know it wasn’t entirely up to us, and all we can do is make something from nothing. When our loved ones move on, we know that it wasn’t simply because we were cruel or distant. Yet simultaneously, we know that there is a point to fighting, to trying, to doing battle with the demons and attempting to rise above. There is meaning.

And to me, the fact we are fated to do meaningful things by virtue of having some control, is the best destiny of all.



I choose YOU Pika... er page 4!.