It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.
I’ll be honest, I believe that some people have a destiny and some people don’t. The reason is that not everybody chooses to follow their destiny. Why? Because it’s not easy! In fact you can usually tell when you are on the right path towards your destiny when the going gets tough—it’s never the easiest route. Following your destiny means doing the hardest thing that you can do, it requires you giving your utmost day after day. This is because your destiny is you realizing your fullest potential, it’s about you living your best life.
In a way choosing to follow your destiny means traveling the path of most resistance, because it is the path that will stretch you the most, it is the path of growth, the path of realizing one’s full potential. Out of all of the different possibilities, paths, and versions of your own life that are possible choosing to follow your destiny means living your best life.
I love that phrase “living your best life” it paints this picture that there are thousands of lives out there that you could choose from—which is true if you think about it. Every time you make a choice you are choosing which version of yourself to become, which path to embark on. Out of all the possible choices and actions and you could have made in your life so far—it’s the ones you did make, the path you have chosen that amounts to who you are now and where you are now. Who you become next, and where you go next are always up to you.
Embracing this philosophy is empowering because it makes you realize that your life and who you are, are completely up to you. That is what it means to choose your destiny. The truth is you are choosing it constantly. It is a journey, your destiny is the path that you take to your destination.
The Greeks spoke of it as character, saying a person’s character is their destiny. We often think of destiny as simply meaning fate. Like the Shakespearean idea of star crossed lovers who are destined to be together, but it’s not as simple something that just happens automatically on it’s own. Romeo would have never gotten together with Juliet if he hadn’t put himself there at the right time and place underneath her balcony! So you can think of destiny as hidden potential, it must be discovered, it must be coaxed into growing, it starts as an acorn and becomes a tree. It is the blueprint, the DNA, the ideal version of yourself at your fullest.
There is an old Hindu parable about a tiger cub who becomes lost from his family, he wonders about until he comes upon a flock of sheep. The cub thinks: well, they have four legs and tails, this must be what I am! He joins the flock and grows up trying to be a sheep, he eats chomps on grass all day with his sharp teeth, he rolls in dust to hide his stripes, he practices waggling his tail like a sheep, bleating, and trying to walk like a sheep, talk like a sheep, sheep like a sheep. Of course he feels pretty awkward! The other sheep think he looks funny, he is no good at prancing and head butting, his bleat sounds strange and eating all that grass gives him a stomachache. One day a grown tiger comes upon the flock of sheep and pounces at them. The sheep all run away terrified, but the young tiger stays there frozen: he feels afraid of this powerful and frightening hunter, but something also calls him towards the magnificent tiger. The cub experiences a tingling feeling of recognition. The grown tiger says “what kind of strange creature are you?”
“I’m a sheep!” the tiger cub says, and lets out his best bleat which honestly sounds more like a strained meow.
The wise old hunter laughs, “You certainly are not! Now you can stay here and go on pretending to be a sheep the rest of your life. Or you can follow me into the jungle, and learn the ways the tiger, and learn how to use your tail, how to use your stripes, your whiskers, and your claws to become a hunter— I can show you who you are really meant to be.”
Now what do you suppose the young tiger chooses? On the one hand he has lived his whole life a sheep, and has been taught to fear all of the things that come naturally to a tiger; the wild jungle, the night, and the how to hunt, yet it is his destiny to be a tiger.
The tiger cub in the story is you, and the sheep represent society. We try to fit in at all costs, we try to please others, we try to just be one of the flock even if it is not who we are really meant to be. The wise old tiger in the story is one’s destiny, it is that calling to embrace the true self, to find out what you are made to do, who you were really meant to be.
Another way to look at the parable of the tiger is that the wise old tiger represents the higher self, that which calls us and guides us toward our destiny. The appearance of the wise old tiger feels like a calling, in fact that is what we say when somebody finds the career that is best suited for them, we say he or she has found their calling. That is what the word vocation means: it is from the Latin vocare which means to call. The idea is that your true self, your life’s work is calling you. Think about that. We often think that our career, our life’s work is something that we have to go in search for—but what if it is something that is actually calling you, and the trick is to learn to listen to what it is?