Lately, I've been wrestling with fate. That is, I've been contemplating the concept that one's existence requires her to behave in accordance with the life choices she has made. I'm operating here under the understanding that the life choices people make constitute their "destiny" or fate.
Ideally, we make our life choices consciously; for example, a woman may love many, many men in her lifetime; however, when it comes to choosing a mate, she combines as much awareness as she can muster with a generous dose of dumb luck and chooses one man. What results is the life she leads as a married woman to that particular man; i.e., her "fate." Likewise, a woman gets pregnant with her husband (they are poor artists, they are "not ready," they have decided to wait; nevertheless, she gets pregnant the old fashioned way--without "planning") and chooses to go ahead and become a mother, knowing that having children will complicate her life in the deepest way. She lives, in short, with her eyes and heart open to the experiences she's having; she does not crash or thrash through her life, complaining that the life she's creating for herself -- whether consciously or unconsciously -- is unfair. She does not become a victim of her fate.
Sometimes, while contemplating my fate, passages from Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being seep into my consciousness, passages like "The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become" (Kundera 5).
Before I became a new mom/shut-in, I enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle: I played in a band; I wrote and produced original performances; I acted in plays; I taught English Literature; I traveled the world. My husband and I spent a lot of time out with our friends. We attended parties -- pool parties, cast parties, democratic parties, garden parties, galas. We even threw a party now and then. Mine was a relatively light existence, a troubled existence to be sure -- whose isn't? -- but free of irrevocable responsibility for the most part.
Not so much these days.
Recently, my friend Jason asked me if I wanted to be in a play -- the world premiere rock opera by Daniel Johnston and Infernal Bridegroom Productions. Jason is directing it. It's gonna be amazing, and I would love to be in the play more than most anything else. But I had to say no. No. No. No. Because not only am I a wife, and the mom of a fourteen month old daughter, but also because I'm carrying another baby in my uterus. These three things are major responsibilities, each one compounded by the next. Being a wife is easy; being a wife and mother is exponentially harder. Being a mother of two, I've heard, is exponentially harder than being a mother of one. Besides the responsibilities to my family, there's the reality that by six p.m., I can barely stand. The only thing I'm successful at during the evening hours is passing out from exhaustion.
Is it worth it? Is giving up this extravagant, seemingly expansive lifestyle for the limited, burdened one of family worth the exchange?
Yes. It is. I think. I hope.
I used to think of the Fate phenomenon as the opposite of Free Will. But over the years, I've learned that Fate is a result of Free Will; there is no versus between the two. They are intimately connected, in the same way all great oppositions are connected: dark/light, male/female, parent/child, heaviness/lightness. There is no one without the other.
There is no extravagance without burden.