The Frail Logic of “Meant to Be”

One of my favorite ways to help me make a decision or re-think a problem is to post it on Facebook or Twitter and ask for an opinion. I value other people’s perspectives and ideas. It helps my brain run in new rivers of thought.

Aboriginal art from the Gippsland coast.

The other week I asked a “should-I-or-shouldn’t-I?” question and got clever, good, and thoughtful answers. The one answer that I don’t fall into the flow with is “if it was meant to be, it will happen.”

I’m not a person who believes in predestination–that everything is pre-planned, and people are meat puppets acting out their destiny. It takes away that free-will decision making process that has taught me so much in life. (That’s nicer than saying “I made huge mistakes, and often.”)

And how far can I ride the “meant to be” stream? If my teeth are meant to be flossed, someone will come do it for me? If the mortgage is meant to be paid, someone will send me money? I know, those are far fetched, but I don’t know where the horizon line is in the “meant to be” scheme.

The first peoples of Australia (and Albert Einstein) believe in the Everywhen–a universal time in eternity, where past, present and future are all present.  In that case, I understand that my problem, decision and consequence are all visible at the same time. I can understand that.

For the life of me, I don’t understand that items will fall into my lap if someone (fate? destiny? a god?) declares it “meant to be.” If that were true, then I could work for years toward a goal, which has secretly been declared “not to be” and I wouldn’t know it. Or reach my goal. Or (and this is the big one for me) not know why I’m not getting close to my goal. Some of my finest learning has been discovering why my efforts are (or are not) moving me toward a goal, why failure happened.

Shrugging off failure, ineptness, laziness, as “not meant to be” also means I can sit in the same ineptness and laziness and expect something to work if it is meant to be.

So I’ll continue to be confused until I work it out. You know, if it was meant to be.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who is watching for an opportunity.

Create Where You Are Now

Wishing for what isn’t is not way to boost your creativity. Wishing that it were cooler (if you live here, in the Sonoran Desert) makes it seem hotter. Wishing you were richer makes you feel poorer.

Used to be green with tons of yellow flowers. Not any more.

In July, the serious heat sets in. July is the hottest month for most Northern Hemisphere areas, and we often have 30 days of more than 110 degrees–they aren’t consecutive,  but most of them happen in July and August. Each year, I buy plants that say “full sun” on their needs. Now, “full sun” may mean 6 to 8 hours of sunshine, but it doesn’t mean the broiler we have here. And each year I struggle to keep those plants alive. That makes as much sense as trying to keep the leaves on the trees in October in Vermont. It’s just not going to happen.

This morning I quit watering the straw those plants turned into and decided to put

Not going to make it, no matter how much care I give it.

my efforts into the ones that could survive without a lot of extra work.

And that’s exactly what happens with your creativity, too. Put it in a place where it can’t possibly survive, and the struggle is ugly and non-productive.

Whether that’s a bad relationship, bad conference you feel you should have loved, bad project you thought would be great, or bad book you are reading, there are some efforts that won’t be rewarded. Goethe, the German thinker and poet, said “Die Arbeit ist nicht immer mit Erfolg gekrönt,” —Your work is not always guaranteed success. (I know it’s not the literal translation, the interpretation was called for here.)

So why not eliminate all those dead places that aren’t worth saving? Flogging a dead horse is not always noble or even what’s called for. Sometimes it’s far more worthwhile to be very honest, determine that you do not have the stamina, strength, materials, smarts or spirit to make this project succeed, or even move forward. The smart thing to do is to stop pouring your effort into a bottomless pit and spend more of your effort doing something that will give you a better result.

This is the one that will make it. This is the place to put the effort.

Yes, this is different from stopping because you are bored or tired, or walking away from your marriage because there is something more appealing to go after.  You know the projects. You’ve been there. Spend the precious water you have in the Sonoran desert to nurture the plant that can adapt to the desert. Put your energy behind the projects that will work. You will be better off for it.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and life coach. She has a website at QuinnCreative.com