“A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.” - Marcus Aurelius
If you could go back in time, what would you change about your life?
When you look at the most difficult, pain-filled moments in your past, what wells up inside of you? Is it a deep-rooted loathing? Denial? Hate? Bitterness? Terror? Gratitude?
I have a handful of regrets in my life, some things I wish that I could do-over, like the floral turtlenecks and corduroy jumpers of my high school years, or that perm in 1993… But when it comes to the Really Big and Terrible things that have happened in my life, I wouldn’t undo it. Not because I found any pleasure in those moments or because I am some sort of a masochist, but because it was in those moments, days, years, that I found myself. The person I am today, any growth or success that I have experienced, was made possible by the obstacles that were placed in my path. The unavoidable suffering. The things I didn’t ask for. The things that weren’t my fault.
This is what amor fati means: love of fate. The deep, resonant acknowledgement that everything happens for a reason. Not every day is a good day, but even the bad ones are necessary. On the surface, it’s easy enough to say that pain and misery give us a deeper appreciation for the joy and comfort we find later, but more than that, trials and tribulations give us the complexity, the problem-solving skills, the resilience to navigate the rough water as we move ahead in life. For every broken heart, I am grateful. For every ache in my soul, I give thanks. They have made me who I am.
The hardships I have suffered in my life pale in comparison to the ordeals that many have faced over the centuries. Studying great minds from history has taught me that my misery is the equivalent of a holiday for people who have survived so much worse. The horrors of the Holocaust taught us the power of the human spirit and the responsibility of all mankind for his brother, and it gave birth to powerful voices like Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate, who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps to later write “If the only prayer you say throughout your life is ‘Thank You,’ then that will be enough.” Wiesel witnessed atrocities that we cannot even fathom, and yet his message to the world is one of gratitude.
Life is a force that is, for the most part, out of our control. We buy the illusion of control with our meticulously cultivated plans and strategies, but all it takes is one breath of fate to blow us off our well-charted course into an oblivion, where it is up to us to buck and thrash against what has happened, grasping to regain our delusional sense of destiny, or roll with the wave and bob to the surface upright, looking for the new course and destination - maybe even with gratitude and excitement.
As a young girl, I fell hook-line-and-sinker for the line in the bible that promised me the desires of my heart, if I did what the lord asked of me. I did it, and more, and got shit-in-a-basket in return… far from what I thought the desire of my heart was, a fairy tale love and story book life. Come to find out, that’s not really what I wanted anyway. This restless soul wasn’t ever cut out for a happily-ever-after, turns out I am more of a choose-your-own-ending kinda girl, and it was the darkest moments of my life that have made that possible - I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So amor fati. Love fate. Bring it on. I’ve got my life jacket, which sometimes comes in the form of a bottle of wine, a beer with a friend, a road trip to reset, or sometimes it’s just really loud music on the stereo . We’re all on this ride together and I am grateful that my switchbacks have led me here, to you, and this place where we can ride out the storm together and see what’s on the other side.