how did you get here?
what brought you to this moment?
free will mixed with fate
I was participating in a Breathwork class on the Insight Timer app with Michael Kass, the founder of Story and Spirit. At one point, Michael said something about how we all arrived in this place on the Internet.
It sparked the following musing.
What brought you here?
You are here right now reading this because you clicked on a link.
Why did you click on the link?
Why this link, on this day, at this time?
You made a choice, you acted in free will.
But did you, really? Fully?
What precipitated your clicking on this link? What emotion were you feeling when you clicked?
Everything in our lives is the result of choices we made in the past. The past of 30 seconds ago and 30 years ago. And everything in between.
Our friends. Our jobs. Our neighbors. The furniture we sit on. The actives we pursue. What we read, watch, and listen to.
Where we find ourselves in any given moment is the result of a series of small decisions made over time.
The smallest shifts can lead to massive changes in trajectory and destination.
All those little decisions stack up.
A link you click today leads you to one article, then another. You get on someone’s list. You enroll in a program.
You meet new people and get exposed to new ideas.
Your perspective starts to change.
You shift your path slightly.
Before you know it, you’re in a radically different place.
Experts say that 95% of our decisions are not conscious. Most of our actions are driven by habit.
Even where we are conscious of what we chose to do, how often are we fully aware of why?
What are the factors that led you to click that link, to turn down that particular street on that particular day?
This is one of the greatest curiosities and mysteries of life. A vast well of deeply hidden motivations and influences.
I clicked a link to join Michael’s class on Insight Timer. But before that moment, there were dozens, if not hundreds — or maybe even thousands — of tiny decisions that led to it. It would be impossible for me to retrace every single step.
I’ve found that meditation and mindfulness, and the practice of slowing down and attuning to my thoughts and emotions, helps me see these steps with more clarity at the moment I make my choices.
And yet our choices only account for part of what we experience. Even if we took every step with full awareness, we can’t always predict what is waiting for us behind each door.
This is life: a mix of free will and fate. The more we pay attention, the more we realize how much is beyond our control.
And also, in my wiser moments I can appreciate that this is what keeps life interesting.
Life is a a dance of free will and fate.