By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
Here we are – midway through January 2020. Have you crystallized your vision of vitality for 2020? Has anyone noticed you have a new routine or attitude? Have you already given up? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Between coping with severe weather and assorted viruses, many people are doing well to be functional right now. Fortunately, it’s never too late to focus on the future and take corrective action. After all, ships and planes rely on constant corrective adjustments of their navigational systems to reach their destinations. How much more do fallible, fatigued, and sometimes fickle human beings need to take corrective action if we’re to achieve our destiny?
Now there’s a word that gets far too little attention in our culture. Destiny. No doubt there are those who would roll their eyes and dismiss the concept as delusional and arcane. But I really believe each of us has a destiny or at least a potential destiny. The key is recognizing it and taking steady action to achieve it. Andrew Roberts, the acclaimed biographer, describes Winston Churchill’s profound sense of personal destiny in his book, Churchill: Walking with Destiny. An intense spiritual experience at the age of 16 implanted in the young Churchill a deep conviction that he would be called upon to save London and indeed, Great Britain, at some point in his life.
Churchill had some major failures along the way, as all great people do. And, despite stunning successes, he was the target of relentless, vicious criticism from political opponents, pretentious journalists, and even people in his own party. Many of Churchill’s speeches were greeted with ridicule and contempt by his detractors. This should not surprise us. Nothing fosters criticism more predictably than jealousy. Those speeches would later be hailed as some of the most inspiring rhetoric in history. Winston Churchill endured massive criticism at nearly every turn, but his sense of destiny allowed him to persevere.
The concept of destiny infuses the wisdom of the ages. Several thousand years ago, Solomon wrote a sentence in Proverbs that should be noted by individuals and nations alike. He wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Solomon was onto one of the great secrets of the universe. Can there be much doubt that communism has largely collapsed because it tried to suppress the vision of its people? Would inner city darkness and despair exist if people pursued a vision of future success? Would many of us wallow in depression for long if a vision of great destiny propelled us forward?
If you were less than thrilled with the accomplishments and personal progress you made last year, make a change. Change whatever isn’t working in your life. Of course, that means changing the way you think. It means daring to dream and develop a vision for the future. Don’t dwell on your circumstances, change them.
The vision to see, the faith to believe, and the will to work can bring your destiny within reach. Solomon and Churchill were onto something. The question is, are we?