Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fate verses Chance...


How much do you believe in "fate" verses "chance"? Do you believe we are placed here in the circumstances we find ourselves "for a reason" or "just because"? Do you think there is a greater force working over us and through us as we come in contact with others, or is there nothing but happenstance working in our lives? Have you ever felt that you were "destined" to meet someone? And if so, do you believe that there is a "reason" for such meetings? Or, have you ever really "connected" with someone, even if that connection was for just a brief moment?


Hollywood is full of such stories and examples. Great literature often wraps itself in the development of such encounters.


When I met Samantha in person last year, she testified to me of her assurance that we, in this little community of the bloggosphere, have been put here together for a "reason" - that this isn't just something of chance or happenstance. I have come to feel the same as she does.


***


Several years ago, I had an amazing experience that was out of a Hollywood script or the pages of a great novel. I was standing with my wife and kids in southern Utah taking in the wide and spiritual vista of the summer's late afternoon glow over the colorful desert landscape at an isolated location. We were alone, or so we thought. Soon, we noted, however, that there was one other couple nearby. They were speaking a foreign language that was surprisingly understandable... Yes, they were marveling at the scenic view before them in Italian. Not wanting to intrude on each others space, we both stayed silent for a while. But, then I couldn't help myself and I started speaking Italian to him and my wife to her. Within minutes we were chatting about all sorts of things, of our common interests, of our likes and dislikes, of our love for the desert and the West, of our love for all things Italian. We found ourselves amazed at how similar we were. Massimo and I shared the same profession and the same passions! Before we knew it, the sun was setting and over two hours had quickly passed by... and to the relief of our children, it was time to say goodbye.


Like we often say but never do, we told each other that we would write and keep in contact with each other. We shared contact information, gave each other affectionate hugs, and then we parted - never knowing if or when we would see each other again, but knowing that we had an amazing "connection" in a breathtaking place together.


Was this chance? Was it "meant to be"? What is chance and what are things that are "meant to be"?


Well... whether it was the spirit, or whether it was my gay-sensitivity kicking in, or my desires for friendship with this attractive, beautiful man, I don't know - but we did continue to stay in contact with each other. We shared our work together and swapped photos of our favorite places in each other's country. We opened up to each other about our desires and our passions. But, neither thought we would actually have the occasion to meet each other again...


until yesterday... when Massimo came into my life again five years later...


I knew he was passing through the area on another visit of the West and the desert, which led him back to Utah. He called. Things were quickly arranged. And yesterday came where he paid a visit to our house and we fell into each other's arms in an embrace of sincere brotherhood and kisses of friendship. We ate together, took photos, shared stories, updated each other, and felt each other's spirits again. We told each other that we needed to find a project where I could work in Italy with him and he with me. We talked about writing a book of our experiences in each other's countries etc. It was magical. We "connected". And now he's gone on his way again... (how I longed to go with him, but alas that was too Hollywood of an ending, us driving off together in the western desert sunset... ahhh!)


We hugged each other multiple times and kissed the double cheek thing multiple times. We were ragazzi "mates" and it felt spiritually right and of a "higher purpose". He asked about the church and my mission and that led to Temple Square etc. But, my pointing to a feeling of "destiny" is not centered around missionary efforts here (though some may feel it should be). No, I'm drawn to the fact that we are amici (friends), fratelli (brothers), amati (lovers) in a real and very predestined sense.


I mean, why did we first connect at the same place in that same instance in that same remote place speaking the same language (both literally and spiritually)? Is there a reason for these brief and intense encounters? Why did we not allow time and distance to diminish the spark of intense friendship? Is it possible to bond with someone so strongly and yet so briefly?


Is there a higher purpose in all of this? Or am I just a gay guy who finds any beautiful young male paying the slightest bit of attention to me, a passionate subject of interest and being the helpless romantic that I am (as my gay self lends me to such thoughts) I can't see this for just the fact that it was another chance encounter?

14 comments:

Damon said...

Hi Beck,

I love that you asked this question, I ask it too- all the time.

I have always been taught, and I believe that during the pre-existence we had friendships with each other. I've also been taught that we made promises to each other. Perhaps to share the gospel, perhaps to meet during this earthly life. I have always heard it from a teaching the gospel perspective, but have always believed that it would apply to other things also...why wouldn't it?

Like you, I have had very intense friendships with others...where my soul rejoices. I imagine that when we experince these things we're often meeting friends that we had in the pre-existence and our souls recognize each other.

Specifically, to the question about fate verses chance. I believe in both. I think sometimes we meet with specifc divine reasons. Perhaps something promised or planned in the pre-existence, but I also believe Heavenly Father puts people in our lives sometimes. It may need we need them or they need us or both.

I also think that sometimes things are just chance. I am not 100% sure how we tell the difference.

~Damon

Public Loneliness said...

Hi Beck! Great question! You must have one of those personalities that people feel drawn to. Are you an extrovert? (I wonder how many of the 'family' are?). I generally have no problem making friends, I'll strike up a conversation with anyone in line at the grocery store, at the movies, on the bus and we'll be sharing all kinds of things. I've wondered what causes that, or if this is a specific trait or a survival skill we develop? I know that this is a generality, but if that's the case, I like it and it is awesome that you were able to reconnect with your friend!

Beck said...

DAMON: I do believe that our souls recognize each other. I do believe in the pre-existence. It makes so much sense to me.

I also believe that a lot of things that happen to us are just by chance. I don't feel like we are that micro-managed from above... but I do believe that there are times when we do connect that was "meant to be" and that has much more to do with love and experience and growth than just missionary work.

Beck said...

PL: No, I am a shy introvert. I do not like talking with strangers. I do not reach out to new people easily. I can be an extrovert professionally and ecclesiastically as called upon to do so, but I'm happy sliding under the radar and not being the center of attention. I don't talk often to those next to me in line at a grocery store or sitting on an airplane, but occasionally I do and we connect and it's wonderful.

If you take a great looking young man, that's Italian, that loves what I love and WHAM I'm immediately an extrovert and I spill my guts and I become affectionate and open and gregarious.

My question is: Why is that? Is there a reason behind why we connect with some and not with others - or that some "by chance" meetings become so important and significant?

santorio said...

for every story of a "chance" encounter that turned magic, I can come up with another that saw magic turn to dust. i want to think that i am special, recognized, appreciated. that i have a guardian angel to thank and a demon to blame.

Beck said...

SANTORIO: Way to go raining on my parade! :(

Yeah, we all think we're special. So what's so wrong about that?

Silver said...

I love that feeling when the planets align and all feels in harmony. Doesn't happen all that often but, it is joyous when it does and it gives sweetness to life. There are the days when all feels like fate and then those days when the whole program sucks and I wonder where I got so far off track. I'm a man of many contradictions.

Regarding fate; yeah I think our lives are directe for good in many aspects by a loving God but, I side with you Beck in the assumption that a lot of things are by chance, left up to natural law and that we are not micromanaged. I hate managers who micro me and I never knew a child who liked to be restrained. Ultimately I feel we have our freedom and our own choice in what we pursue but, when we choose well our spirits recognize good in our fellow beings and our souls leap.

I've been blessed with many wonderful friends in recent years. I rejoice in what they do for my understanding and the way they touch my soul. There is nothing more joyous than that connection. There is a quote by CS Lewis that says "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You, too? Thought I was the only one." ...A very loved friend of mine shared that with me.

When things get rough I think that I must have chosen my circumstances to some degree and known where I was called on this life mission I am on. I can't comprehend a God who would thrust me blindly into a situation or family without at least having a brief interview and helping me to feel a part or be a part of my own destiny. What do you think? If things aren't going so swell I remind myself that I probably signed up for this program and it's all part of the agreement, good and bad, there is something to be gained.

robert said...

Hi Beck,
What a beautiful and inspired post. You said: "I mean, why did we first connect at the same place in that same instance in that same remote place speaking the same language (both literally and spiritually)? Is there a reason for these brief and intense encounters? Why did we not allow time and distance to diminish the spark of intense friendship? Is it possible to bond with someone so strongly and yet so briefly?" Wonderfully rendered questions.

I intuit that such experiences are responses to our own internalized questions. The answers we are supplied in "chance encounters" and in no lesser degree than more cultivated relationships are
"given" to us to assist us in our journey, because we have asked either directly or indirectly for them. There is a message in this "relationship" for you. It is up to you to decipher the message, because it is specifically for you. Your friend is no different than you in this regard as the message to him is being delivered through you.
I have witnessed this many times in my life and the degree to which I "get the message" or the answer seems largely up to whether I am open to it. There have been times when I have not been open to it, so the answer to the question I was asking within myself remained unanswered. In some cases, the question, itself, is forgotten.:)
"Forgetting the question" never occurs with deep and abiding questions and answers continue to present themselves through various "others" in my life.

For example, my work with AIDS patients in the 1980's opened my awareness that the apparent duality of the world is an illusion, that enmity and competition are not inherent; and to the mystical sense that we are participating in the life of God in the course of our daily activities. I have also been given the message rather recently that the children of mixed orientation marriages within certain religious traditions carry enormous potential to "see" from a perspective that honors religious traditions as poetical sources of wisdom without mistaking them for factual descriptions of the external world and making fetishes of details that no longer fit modern reality. Of course, these children will teach their parents as much as their parents have taught them in the same manner as the Vietnamese children teach me as I teach them. It seems so clear now Jesus's desire to have us "be as little children". Children know that they don't know...As adults, we are hardpressed to admit it.

With the passage of time, I am very grateful that the distance between my internal questions and their delivered answers has shortened considerably. If I am very quiet, I see that as I approach the end of this life...both questions and answers are quickly revealed as I, too, am running out of time.

Beck said...

SILVER ASKED: "When things get rough I think that I must have chosen my circumstances to some degree and known where I was called on this life mission I am on. I can't comprehend a God who would thrust me blindly into a situation or family without at least having a brief interview and helping me to feel a part or be a part of my own destiny. What do you think?"

I don't believe in the one-and-only concept of the church culture, but I do believe that we are here to help each other as we take the opportunity to do so. In the process, I think we do have a great part in our "destiny". But, I feel like God gives us the opportunity / situation / challenge / experience etc. and sees what we will do with it - verses managing every step along the way. But, is it too much to hope that He sometimes places another person in our path to help along the way? Is that too presumptuous?

Beck said...

ROBERT said: "There is a message in this "relationship" for you. It is up to you to decipher the message, because it is specifically for you. Your friend is no different than you in this regard as the message to him is being delivered through you."

I concur that we give each other messages and it is up to us to be open to receive that message. I like that. I like being a delivery boy! I just have a lot to learn about being open to others and ready to receive!

Silver said...

Recent frienships and "chance" meetings have brought me to believe that there is great devine purpose and meaning in my relationships.

I have been richly blessed by the hearts and souls of great friends who touch my heart, speak my language and with whom I have a soulful connection better than words.

Beck asked: But, is it too much to hope that He sometimes places another person in our path to help along the way? Is that too presumptuous?

No, absolutely No! It is not presumptuous. My own experience and my heartfelt convictions tell me that I have been blessed with other persons and their wisdom just at my very moments of despair. I also believe that I have been that person for others as well. I firmly believe that God works his magic through us.

A good friend told me once that although we are not to rely on the "arm of flesh" it is good to realize that we are literally the "hands of God" in this life and that he works through us, even though we are very poor instruments at times.

I bumbble through relationships. I can mess up the best of opportunities. I can get caught in my own needs and pride and totally miss the point but, I firmly believe that a loving God guides my steps, nurtures my hurts, patiently waits for me to come to my senses, forgives my errors, understands my weakness and daily works through my companions to bless my life.

Ultimately, all is based in "LOVE". The more fully I can embody the example of the Savior, forget myself, serve others and trust in God's love; the more the details are no longer important; only the spiritual message and the peace that comes from honest communication, spirit to spirit.

Beck, I rejoice for you in the connection you have with your Italian soulmate. It's a blessing. One of those connections that tells us that God really does bless us when we open our eyes to see his work and our spirits are in tune with His will for us. I would savor every moment and every opportunity to enjoy the relationship.

Forester said...

Why is it that these types of friendships are few and far between? At least, for me they are? I too am an introvert and it has caused me much anguish over the years. My career has suffered, my relationship with my wife has suffered, my relationships with extended family have suffered...so it is amazing when something...someone comes along like this. I don't believe it's just a gay thing - but maybe it helps to some degree.

Beck said...

FORESTER: They are too far and few between. That is why they stand out and scream "bigger plan" or "destiny" or whatever - because they are so rare and beautiful. I don't know whether it's the "gay thing" or not - it just is.

Thanks for understanding.

Beck said...

SILVER said: "Beck, I rejoice for you in the connection you have with your Italian soulmate. It's a blessing. One of those connections that tells us that God really does bless us when we open our eyes to see his work and our spirits are in tune with His will for us. I would savor every moment and every opportunity to enjoy the relationship."

Amen!