Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A is for Aramis

Tonight I went to see Slumdog Millionaire with my book club. So well done! I really enjoyed watching it, and not just because of the Bollywood dance number during the credits (though that was AWESOME, and really looked like a lot of fun...maybe at my PhD graduation my classmates and I could coordinate something similar?) -- everyone should believe all the hype that this little film could be a Best Picture contender this year.

This movie talks a lot about destiny, a concept I have trouble grasping and constantly think about. It's a nice idea in theory...there are these fantastic things that we are all destined to do or be, and regardless of the twists and turns in our lives, we will all achieve our predetermined (hopefully happy) ending. In some ways, it's a comforting idea. It makes our mistakes seem makes our obstacles seem matter what happens, we're just along for the ride until we achieve our purpose. The way our life plays out is in someone else's hands. This thinking limits our responsibility for our own lives, which can be a hopeful way of looking at things when our failures or setbacks have us down in the dumps. God (or fate, if you are not so religious) has a plan for us, and we will fulfill it.

But what happened to seize the day? Being accountable for who we are and what we do? After all, when things aren't going poorly, we may thank God (fate), but we also usually credit our judgment or talents. When our lives are successful, it is much nicer to think we played a direct role in doing well.

So which is it? Is life a book already written that we live from start to finish, or is it a choose your own adventure novel, where the ending changes as we make decisions? I truly don't know. It's probably a mix of both, but I doubt I'll ever truly understand how these two conflicting concepts coexist in one universe. Call me a control freak, but I lean towards feeling like I am "taking charge" of my own destiny. I cannot accept that I am not responsible for the way my life turns out and the type of person I continue to be, even if who I am is God's creation. But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying to think about why I was created, and what my purpose in life is.

I loved how the main characters in Slumdog Millionaire believed in their destiny and followed it through until the end -- it made for a great story and a really entertaining/uplifting film. (And if you want another great movie about this sort of subject, I also recommend Sliding Doors from the 1990's.) I'm just not sure what I believe my destiny is yet. Or what I can do to work towards accomplishing it. I guess all I can do is keep asking and answering multiple choice questions until I can answer that million dollar question.

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