Are We Free?

Recently, I felt a bit overwhelmed while in the middle of moving at a time when my schedule was already packed. I was also listening to a Great Courses program on The Big Questions of Philosophy and particularly on lectures about whether or not we have free will. The lecturer presented strong arguments for the likelihood that our lives are determined to a much greater degree than we might like to think and this conclusion is backed by some pretty convincing science. I was reminded of a poem that I wrote, Measure Of Your Moments, published in my third book of poetry. Here's an excerpt:

Partnering with ourselves is part of a process for transforming experience into wisdom, living life beautifully, making your unique contribution to the world, and leaving behind a meaningful legacy. I call this process: 

Wording the World

We each may be destined
to be a cog in a greater wheel,
but I will know my spirit.
I will claim my soul.
I will turn in my own time
and at my own pace. 

Our lives are lived in a great dance between fate and free will. In actual fact, we are not the lead in this dance. Forces greater than ourselves sweep us along the way. Even our conscious self is nested in a larger Self that is largely outside of our awareness.

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It is often said that the one thing you can control is yourself. Actually, this too may be an exaggeration. I suggest changing the focus from self-mastery to self-mystery. Self-mastery implies a relationship of dominance over oneself in which we batter or coax our “self” into submission.  Self-mystery opens us to a genuine relationship with one's Self. It invites us to discover ourselves anew and creates curiosity about our own unknown potential.

We can claim our spirit and our soul as partners, not as loyal subjects. We can find our own rhythm and our own pace in the dance with the greater Self, who is, by the way, a master dancer. We enter into genuine intimacy with ourself once we let our footsteps follow this partner’s lead.

Fate is the promise that life is not a random string of tragedy and comedy without meaning. Fate proclaims that our lives are in fact so meaningful, so necessary, that our stories are written by the gods and goddesses, by the heavens themselves. We may only glimpse our fate, hinted by the stars or the creases of our hands; but even this glimpse is evidence of our contract with the universe, that we are players in the great wheel of life.
— Sy Montgomery, Spell of the Tiger

Prose and recital © 2016 Nick Leforce
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