Great destinies and bad endings

Most tales and stories of destinies that led to greatness didn’t end so well

In Summary

• Since you can’t see what lies ahead, enjoy the now


Destiny. It means the things that will happen in the future. For some, it means the force that controls what happens in the future and is outside human control. A person’s destiny is, therefore, everything that happens to them during their lives (whether it’s outside their control or not), including what will happen in the future.

Destiny is sometimes used interchangeably with fate, but there are those, probably Americans, who hold the motivationally inspiring and positive view that fate and destiny are quite different. To them, fate is that which you cannot change, and it happens to those who don’t actively place themselves on the path to greatness. Destiny, on the other hand, is what happens when you take decisive action to learn, grow, take chances and, in so doing, you choose your future; you become the master of your destiny.

I don’t hold any particular opinion about destiny mastering, or whether it is a force, or if there’s any difference between it and fate, but all of the above do lead nicely to this quote from the movie ‘The Last Samurai’: ‘…A man does what he can until his destiny is revealed.’

For the longest time, I thought that line was supposed to be inspiring. But then I looked at it another way. Often, we associate destiny with greatness revealed and think that is a good thing. But is it a good thing to be destined for greatness? I mean, if you mull over it, in most tales and stories of destinies that led to greatness, it didn’t end so well for the person or people who destiny made great.

Perfect examples include the famous last stand in The Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. 300 Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidas, stood their ground against an invading Persian army numbering 100,000 to 150,000 led by Xerxes I. Though vastly outnumbered, Leonidas and his men fought bravely, they held off the Persians for a while, but in the end, the 300 perished. Songs of this battle were sang, books were written about the 300, movies were made centuries later about their valour, the 300 were destined for greatness, but they had to die for that to happen.

Then there’s Achilles, the greatest warrior in Greek mythology, hero of the Trojan War, killed near the end of that war by Paris of Troy, who shot Achilles in the heel with an arrow. It was a heroic death that had been predicted by a seer when Achilles was nine. It was Achilles’ destiny to be great in the battle against the Trojans, and the dying bit was part of the deal.

And it’s not just warriors that destiny makes great by killing them. There is, of course, Jesus of Nazareth, who, if not for crucifixion on his destiny card, probably wouldn’t have been so well known if you compare it to, say, if he had peacefully passed away of old age.

Great destinies don’t look so good now when you see it from the view of the 300, Achilles, and the man from Nazareth. But what of it? Destiny is what will, might, or could happen to you in the future, and since you can’t see what lies ahead, enjoy the now.