Is it Fate or Destiny?

I love this topic.  When my sister Judy mentioned “destiny” in her comments to my post on Foreshadowing, I knew it was time to discuss my philosophy on the differences between destiny and fate.

Without going through the long history of both words, here are quick excerpts of their meanings from…and both are the first definition listed.  Destiny is “something that is to happen or has happened to a particular person or thing.”  Fate is “something that unavoidably befalls a person.”

Very similar.  Yet the distinction that I see is in the tone of each word.  Say destiny aloud, and you might find your lips curving upward into a gentle smile.  Something in the word destiny evokes positive images…like a new path brought before us.

Say fate aloud, and you might find a smile harder to induce.  The word conjures up images of ruin and destruction.  It evokes a tone of finality, as if nothing can prevent it.

Once called the moirai in Greek mythology, the Fates were three goddesses who controlled human lives…their length and the amount of suffering to be endured.  Clotho spun the web of life.  Lachesis measured its length.  Atropos was the one who cut the web, sealing the human’s ultimate fate.  The archetypes of these goddesses carried on into Roman and even Norse mythologies.

With such a history, there is little amazement that the term “fate” has come to symbolize death.  Not an uplifting idea.

As I research the word “destiny”, nothing dreadful appears on my screen.  Instead, I seem to find myself reading about manifest destiny, the belief in the inevitable expansion of colonists across the continent.  Ah, we are back at the idea that destiny implies a beginning of something…a new path.

So, here’s my ultimate summation on the difference between destiny and fate.  Both terms allude to some thing or event in our future…Point B.  You are currently at Point A.  It is how you go from Point A to Point B where the difference lies.

Your path to Point B is locked onto a chosen path…a web.  You are as stuck to this path as a fly to a web.  You will arrive at Point B, but only at the time and direction of Fate!  Sounds so confining to me.  (I shudder to think about it.)

Destiny, however, gives you a bit of breathing room.  (Ahhhhhhh.)

Destiny will eventually bring you to Point B, but there is no sticky web holding you onto some predetermined path.  You are free to choose from multiple paths along the way.  Yet, somehow whichever path you chose will inevitably bring you to Point B.  Destiny sounds so much more exciting…enlightening.

I would like to be set free, knowing that I will meet my destiny on a path of my choosing. 

How about you?  Has your life been stuck on a fateful path?  Or have you had a vivid moment in your life where you knew Destiny played a hand…brought you to a new beginning you didn’t expect?

A couple of quotes on today’s topic:

fates-old“The thirst for adventure is the vent which Destiny offers; a war, a crusade, a gold mine, a new country, speak to the imagination and offer swing and play to the confined powers.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To punish me for my contempt for authority, fate made me an authority myself.” – Albert Einstein


Lynda Gail Alfano

~ by immortaldiva on August 5, 2009.

3 Responses to “Is it Fate or Destiny?”

  1. I think a lot of things happen for a reason. I’ve met a lot of people through my noveling blog, Uninvoked, and have asked many of them for help in spreading the word about it. The response has been overwhelming. I’m now confident I will reach my goal of 1,000 readers with enough time and effort. It’s very exciting!

  2. […] at Immortal Ink, Lynda Gail Alfano talks about fate and destiny in her post Is It Fate Or Destiny? Lynda picks a word of the day, so pop in and see her […]

  3. I would say that both fate and destiny imply that things are predetermined by something other than oneself. One of my favourite authors Piers Anthony wrote a series called The Incarnations of Immortality. With a Tangled Skein was about the fates. In it characters which had done things to alter the plan had their fate put back in place when the fates just rewove the threads…rewired the connections…such that you met who you were supposed to etc. So that implies whatever we do..your fate is your fate. If something is destiny..then it is something you were meant to do and therefor implies immutability also. The difference in the words for most people is probably whether the path is a positive or negative one. And, of course, anything to do with fate or destiny which speaks to our helplessness in self determination brings the religious questions surrounding predestination and free will. I prefer to believe that God/Creator and Upholder of the Universe..however conceived..KNOWS what we will do, but does not make it happen…that we do indeed have free will and the ability to choose. Not that I mind some divine guidance 🙂 !!!!

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