By Nandini Garg:
“Is there something that defines FATE? Are our lives planned out from beginning to end? Well, many people believe that there is something bigger than us, that there is a reason for everything. Some believe that everything is a coincidence. It all depends if one believes in things of more importance than to us. Some believe coincidence to be real and not fate. However, none of this can ever be truly proven”
Webster’s dictionary of synonym compares them. Fate suggests inevitability. Fate is the most evocative synonym. The spoken word is powerful. The word has the power to enspell and ensorcel you. When one speaks, one casts a spell and cast one’s fate.
Coincidence is appropriately mundane: “a seemingly planned sequence of accidently occurring events.” One might think the collision of events was fated to occur, but one is mistaken. It signified nothing, but searching like we all do for an explanation and a sense of importance, one creates his fate by spelling out meaning from a jumble of coincidences.
We have all had it happen to us. We think about someone whom we haven’t seen in a while, and later that same day, we bump into them. We have an ominous feeling that something bad is going to happen and it does. We have a dream that depicts our future. We look back at events in our lives and we see them fitting together like a puzzle.
One thinks, “If I hadn’t been in that exact place, at that exact moment, my life would have gone in a totally different direction, I wouldn’t have met this or that person, I wouldn’t have done this or that thing, I wouldn’t have that job instead of this one, and even, I would have married that boy/girl instead of my husband/wife.”
Is it all connected somehow? Or is it just coincidence?
The notion that Death itself might actually be capable of ‘stalking its prey’ with a pre-laid out plan as to where, when and by what means our ends will be met is an intriguing one to ponder upon. Most are familiar with the long list of unexplained “coincidences” related to the assassination of president Lincoln and Kennedy, but less are familiar with those other equal, but no less eerie, examples of fate in its most obvious form. While it may sometimes be alluded to in certain situations, it is also often ignored for the most part, outweighed by common logic and rational explanations of reason. Coincidence is the term usually applied to ironic aspects of a happening. The superstitious fear of the numbers 3 and 13, when applied to certain situations for example.
Death appears to have kept very close company with the crew of Apollo 13 in 1970. In the end, tragedy was averted. But there are no questions in the minds of those who were there and witnessed the events unfold firsthand, that something strange was happening. It was NASA’s 13th Apollo mission into space (and 3rd mission to the moon). Lift off occurred at exactly 13:13 hours on April 11th. For the next two days, the mission was routine. But, then on April 13th, one of the oxygen tanks exploded, damaging not only the crew’s fuel supply, but venting the remaining supply of oxygen out into the darkness of space. Too far into the mission to turn back, Apollo 13 continued on, uncertain of its fate and into history as one of the America’s most gripping adventures. The 1994 documentary Apollo 13: To the edge and Back presented a chilling portrait- and reminder, of just how close the Grim Reaper had come.
In the 1997, car crash that took the life of Princess Diana, another car(never located) was thought to side swiped the Princess’Â vehicle as it entered the tunnel causing it to hit the number 3 support beam, just inside the entrance. This then sent the car she was riding in out of control, causing it to strike another beam farther down – number 13. It was beam 13 that caused the majority of damage to the car and was ultimately responsible for her death. Was it fate or coincidence that out all those beams that line inside of that Paris tunnel, only those particular two were involved?
In the early 60’s, a movie was released entitled ‘Fate is the hunter’. Based on a popular 1961 bestselling novel by former pilot Ernest K. Gann; the plot revolved around the crash of a commercial airliner and the unusual string of coincidences that preceded the accident. Loosely inspired by the real-life series of events that contributed to the crash of TWA Flight in 1942 (which killed actress Carole Lombard and 21 others outside Las Vegas), the 1964 movie presented an eerie reminder that often times we are not as in control of our lives as we would like to think. Because fate is not a word that traditionally exists in the vocabulary of air accident investigators, the more accepted word, coincidence, is often used in its place in order to explain which is difficult to accept.
To many, fate only occurs on a personal level. Chain reactions exist, certainly, where one person’s behaviour results in a massively far-reaching effect, but they are not ruled by fate. Incidents and chain reactions with a broader range of impact, such as the butterfly effect, have no intended purpose. It is fate that can play the triggering role within the intimate confines of a single person’s life. Sometimes, there are certain events in our lives that are just meant to happen. Those events happen for some reason in some person’s lifetime, meant to influence only the person they happen to.
Some years ago I heard a strange but true incidence “A lady gets on a tractor trolley full of forest wood. A serpent creeps into her garments, she cries, but the driver of the tractor does not hear her cries. A motorcyclist was passing through the way. He hears her cries. He signals the tractor to stop, but the tractor driver did not stop. He takes his motorcycle back and again asks to stop the tractor. The lady in the tractor threw away the serpent. The serpent then lies on the motorcyclist and bit him and he died on the spot. What could be concluded? Was it merely a coincidence or the death was predetermined and was it is fate?
No doubt coincidences happen, too. Not every occurrence in a person’s life is fated. Some are though, and randomness rules them. Ah, the paradoxical logic of my thinking. The fated meetings, actions, observances, even passivity that a person experiences occur without warning or seeming direction. Free will itself can direct the fatefulness in one’s life, so it is practically impossible to recognise those things that are fated. There are markers to indicate a fated meeting from and non-fated one. In retrospect, one can attempt the level of fate in a completed action in one’s life, but even then, it is only a supposition.
So what exactly is the difference between the fate and coincidence? Rather, the evidence is there that fate exists in a world of randomness? That’s where personal faith comes in. Sure, there are proofs to reveal the existence of God and so forth, but ask anyone who isn’t Thomas Aquinas who believes in God, why he or she does and, pared down, you’ll receive mainly a faith based response. Have faith in fate, sometimes, some coincidences are just too coincidental to be random.