Drawing of The Fates by Bertel Thorvaldsen
Bertel Thorvaldsen [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In previous posts I have referred to my life as being like a tangled ball of string – I wasn’t specific at the time, but I imagine it as the kind you get when you give a cat a ball of wool to play with.  When you try to unravel it, you pull one strand and all the others tighten or loosen, knotting or loosening depending on the knot.  Change in one loop affects all the others, and my last post (the February progress report) became more or less a case study of the impact of writing Stress Free Dinner Parties across my life, so I thought I’d take a little time to discuss how I came to this understanding.

My first stringy realisation came about when I was a child as the result of watching a stop motion animation movie with my family. I can’t say for certain, but I think it was probably a Ray Harryhausen film, mainly because he was the genius who developed “Dynamation” and some unforgettable animation sequences like the skeleton sword fights.  I couldn’t say which film this was, or when it was made, but I remember watching it cross-legged in front of the tv – Sunday Night Movie – in my Australian childhood home, and these circumstances place it sometime 1974 – 79.  The movie included a scene with the Fates.

The Fates are known in Greek mythology as the Moirai, and in Roman as Parcae but they have a place in many other ancient European and Asian myth systems.  They are three sister deities, believed to be incarnations of life and destiny who controlled the thread of life and thus the fates of gods and mortals.  In Greek they are:

  • Clotho the maiden, dresses in red, carries the Book of Fate, sings of the past and spins the thread;
  • Lachesis the mother, dresses in black, carries a measuring staff, sings of the present and determines the thread’s length and;
  • Atropos the crone, dresses in white, carries shears, sings of the future, determines the method of death and cuts the thread.

They are recorded variously as the daughters of necessity, divine order or night, depending which Ancient poet (or translator) you prefer [e.g., Homer (The OdysseyThe Iliad), Plato (The Republic), or Hesiod (Theogony)].  Some refer to them as the sisters of death, nemesis, lawfulness, justice and/or peace.  Some give them a moral role punishing vice or enforcing order.  Some put them at Zeus’s command, others independent.  They do not control fate per se, but allowing mortals to make their own choices, manage the thread such that destiny is fulfilled – that thing where every time you say yes to one thing you are also saying no to a load of other things.

My mythological background casts them as wyrd or fairy sisters tending the tree of life and weaving the tapestry of life, or as the three faces of the goddess.  When they are happy they are the Graces, and when they are cross, the Furies.  Many toasts and blessings relate back to attempts to please them, as do our attempts to downplay our successes lest we tempt Fate.  Seemingly they can be pacified by gifts of hair, which explains why some haircuts are life changing events, and possibly why my current lack of hairstyle inspiration leaves me adrift.

These traditional beliefs include a component of predestination, the inevitability of what is to come.  They encompass the cycles of nature, and of life, death and rebirth so that you might marry for one life or all of them.  Or if you elude your destiny in this life you maybe compelled to return again and again until you complete your allotted tasks.  And in this way, life constantly spirals around and around us as the impact of the past decisions affect our future and we deal with what is going on in the present.

And so we come to now.

My tangled stringy life makes its own small tapestry, possibly something akin to a crocheted antimacassar…  Each of my choices has its own spiral of impact – the micro version.  So I exercised my will (wisdom: choice).  Publishing has changed the way that I and others see me (beauty: presence).  It gave me the opportunity to give my knowledge to others (friendship: contribution) and I really enjoyed the process, learning new things and taking a chance (pleasure: adventure).  And eventually, two months in arrears, there will be a tiny royalty payment (wealth: income).

However, my life is one single strand of a larger tapestry that contains all of our strings – some places will be woven tightly with bunchy misshapen threads, some will have dropped stitches or worn out tears and yet others will be plain and smooth.  I imagine that my thread is woven tightly with the people most intimate with me, and it makes sense that changes I make to me ripple further and further out across the whole.  Perhaps this very moment in time is a knot wrapped around my thread!  And at the same time, when things happen to Toseland or Katy they have an impact on me.  I guess you’d call this the macro version.

After my recent clinic appointment, I met Katy for coffee.  She thinks it’s amazing that I wrote a book, she says the idea would never have occurred to her, but even if it did she wouldn’t know where to start.  But it makes her want to try something bigger.  She rides her bicycle to work most days, and she has exactly the kind of figure that you imagine a bike rider would have (weight, what weight?).  I can’t imagine myself riding a bike every day, least of all on the actual road with actual cars and trucks.  But this time our stars aligned and while I am not going to rush out and buy a bike, I do feel more inspired to try to take her advice and make a lunchtime walk a part of my daily routine.

Have you ever considered how your life impacts on those around you?  Do you think you could inspire others to become more than they are?  Or do you thoughtlessly pull people down from your own fear about what they are trying to accomplish?  Do you say “Hell yeah!” or do you say “Why even bother, it’ll never work”?


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