Fate: (n) the inevitable fortune that befalls a person or thing; the end or final result
Destiny: (n) the predetermined or inevitable course of events
Fate and destiny are very poetic terms, and they often come up in adventures. Some stories look to change or defy them, while others work under their guidance. There are tons of examples out there of stories with fate and destiny, and here are just a few:
The video game Xenoblade Chronicles is all about changing the future. The main character, Shulk, has visions of what is yet to come, and by being able to anticipate the future, he can take actions to change it. For Shulk, there is no such thing as a pre-written fate or destiny. Everything is in his hands, ready to be determined based on his actions.
The movie Brave is also very geared towards changing your fate. Merida, a princess who seems fated to live the life her mother chose for her, works throughout the whole movie to change that fate and make her life her own. The will o’ the wisps, floating blue spirits in the forest, are also said to lead people to their fates. In this movie, just as in Xenoblade, fate and destiny are what you make of them, and not decided by the stars.
The book Brave Story (which is not at all related to the movie) is another story that revolves around changing your destiny. The main character, Wataru, is struck with disaster in his life when his mom tries to commit suicide, and he travels to another world to meet a goddess who can grant him a wish to change his destiny. This is yet another example where fate is something you can change, but it actually has an interesting twist on the whole idea. This is a huge spoiler for the ending of the book, so if you’d like to read it, just highlight the white text between “start” and “end”.
START–> At the end of the book, when Wataru meets the Goddess of Destiny and is given his wish, he actually decides not to change his destiny and prevent his mom from ever having tried to commit suicide. Instead, he saves his friends, and returns home to his broken family. At this moment, it’s hard to say if he actually did change his destiny, since he didn’t change the course of time, but yet his life was changed when he returned home. He did, however, make a very powerful statement: “It isn’t my destiny that has to change. It’s me.” Perhaps we change our destinies simply by changing ourselves?<–END
It seems like a lot of stories explore the idea that fate and destiny aren’t set in stone, and that they can be changed if you only learn how. There are a lot of examples which don’t support this idea, though–namely in the form of prophecies. One I can think of is the book Fire Bringer, where the entire plot of the novel is guided by a prophecy told centuries ago. A show I love called Class of the Titans also has a prophecy, that the villain Cronus can never succeed as long as the seven heroes stand in his way. There are tons of examples of stories with prophecies, and the prophecies always come true. They suggest that fate and destiny cannot be avoided.
But how can fate and destiny be defined? There are the dictionary definitions I included at the top, but even they are subject to interpretation. Are fate and destiny written as a script that we must follow letter for letter, or are they vaguer, and open to countless variations and methods of getting to the end result? If you look at prophecies, you’ll realize that there are tons of ways they can be translated. The same idea can be accomplished in so many different ways, it can be impossible to tell if the one way that it is accomplished is the only way to do it.
So are fate and destiny written in stone? Do we live our lives following some greater plan? And is this plan detailed and scripted, or open to all forms of interpretation and improvisation?
I believe in fate. I believe that fate, the end result or goal in our lives, is something that we set for ourselves. By deciding today who I want to be, I am fating myself to reach a certain end state. That end state may change tomorrow, or ten minutes from now, depending on my thoughts. I’m always growing and changing, and I believe that my fate is doing the same. I believe that fate is dependent upon your current path, and can change in an instant.
I also believe in destiny. I believe that destiny, the course of events that occur in our lives, is something that we alter every day. Destiny is the path we choose to follow, but like any path, it has already set out its own course. You can’t change the path, but you can choose which way you’ll go when you reach a fork in the road. I believe that your destiny leads to your fate and that the path you take may change your fate.
Whether or not you believe in fate and destiny, and that everything happens for a reason, there is one fact that remains the same: things happen. Trouble happens, disaster happens, celebration, surprises, and happiness all happen. They might not be pre-determined, but they happen all the same. And as life continues, so too do our adventures. Perhaps the true definition of destiny is simply “those things which happen to us”, and the true definition of fate is “our last experience in life”. Who knows? All we can do is take life as it comes and enjoy the adventure as it unfolds.
Do you believe in fate and destiny? Can the future be changed?
May your destiny be a path with many forks, and lead you to the fate that you’ve always dreamed of.