You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. ~Dr. Seuss
There’s a fascinating story behind Theodor Geisel, who later became known as Dr. Seuss. (And who hasn’t read the great doctor?) I can recall reading Dr. Seuss books in my youth, rediscovering him when my daughter began reading the same strange and whimsical books I enjoyed in my childhood. While most of us are familiar with classics like The Cat in The Hat and The Lorax, one thing you may not know about Dr. Seuss is that he was almost not published at all.
Geisel’s first book was rejected by 27 different publishers. Dispirited, he considered packing it in and continuing on with his day job of 15 years, working as an illustrator in the advertising business. But one day, while walking home from the office, he literally bumped into an old friend on the street. The fellow happened to now work as an editor at a publishing house. Geisel was holding a manuscript and the editor noticed it. He was invited in for a meeting and not long afterward the incomparable Dr. Seuss was born.
Talk about the quirky hand of fate: had Geisel been simply walking down the other side of the street, or had he left the office five minutes later or earlier, he might not have ran into the friend and ever published a single word. Yet fate interceded that day and put Geisel’s life on a different path. And his world—and our world—were made all the better for it.
The New Oxford American Dictionary’s definition of fate is “the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power.” But I wonder if Geisel’s fate didn’t have as much to do with his perseverance as it did with a supernatural source.
I came across an interview with mythologist Michael Meade who for years has stressed the importance of discovering our true selves and creating our own unique life stories. Meade, whose books include Fate and Destiny, believes that fate plays an integral role in the story of our lives. The author is quoted as saying “We can’t run from fate, but can only run into it”, adding “when we face our fate, we find our destiny which is our soul’s destination in life.”
It leads me to believe that we must do our own part to meet and cultivate fate in our lives. You’ll note that in Geisel’s story, he was still toting his manuscript around with him even after 27 rejections. He was down, but not out. He knew to follow his life path, as long and time-consuming as it was.
Seth Godin adds to the conversation on fate with this point: Waiting for the fickle finger of fate to point at you (and cursing the universe until it does) is a lousy strategy. What a shame that so many people rationalize their lives this way. It might be a useful rationalization, but how does it increase the likelihood you’ll get what you want?
So, by all means believe in fate, but as author and Patheos blogger Mark Nepo says “Hold nothing back…be completely present in every moment of life”. When you’re alert and ready to meet your fate. it just might run into you, as it did with Dr. Seuss bumping into a book editor on the street. It seems that sometimes, even when you least expect it, fate has a way of just showing up.
If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too. ~Dr. Seuss