Amor Fati

My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.  

-Ecce Homo, Friedrich Nietzsche

Amor Fati is latin phrase that means ‘Love of Fate’, which can be interpreted also as ‘love of one’s fate’.  It is a notion that presents the ultimate emotional/mental challenge when what appears in your path brings you to your knees.  When the something that happens makes you want to tell Fate to go fuck itself with the business end of a .45. 

At first glance, loving whatever comes your way sounds like lunacy, right?  A truly awful thing has happened and you just want me to accept it?  Not only accept it, but love that it has happened. Yes.  

That seems like a stretch, right?

The way I see it, there are levels to this, just like with any type of mastery.  You start small, like with everyday life.  Long lines, getting the wrong order, traffic.  

You start with the understanding that nothing in life is inherently good or bad.  It’s the value that we assign that makes it so.  You decide how you are going to react to what is happening.  You can decide to go completely apeshit and bemoan the fact that the world is indeed against you, or you can decide to look at things as opportunities for a different experience.  

When I was in Seattle last month, I lost my wallet.  On the airplane.  It was completely my fault.  I didn’t put it back in my purse properly, it landed on the floor somewhere and I walked off the plane and out of the airport without my ID, a couple hundred in cash, my debit and credit cards.  I didn’t realize what I’d done until a couple of hours later, when I reached in my purse to pay for something and there was no wallet.  It was late when I the discovery was made - after 11 pm.  

There was the initial heat of panic.  I’m not a person that loses things frequently; this wasn’t a situation I was happy to find myself in.  I took a breath and remembered, that getting mad wasn’t going to change anything.  I was visiting relatives, so at least I wasn’t trying to stay at a hotel with no ID and no way to pay.  In that moment, I decided that while I would do everything I could to get my wallet back, if I didn’t, then I would just roll with the situation.  Getting home via airplane with no identification? I would figure it out somehow.  I knew I wasn’t the first traveler to lose their wallet during a trip. 

The first call to the airline that night yielded no results, but it turned out that mine was the last flight for that plane for the day.  That was a plus, but I was sitting near the front of the plane, so that meant that no less than 50 people passed my seat.  Any of them could’ve spotted my wallet and helped themselves to the contents. 

A second call to the airline the next morning meant another small wait, while the helpful contact reached out to the morning crew to see if anyone found my wallet.  I waited an eternity - about 7 minutes - to finally hear my cell phone ring.  

They found it. 

I picked my wallet up from the Virgin counter at SeaTac airport and everything was in there.  Cash, license, credit cards - everything. 

Without a doubt, I was ecstatic that I got my wallet back.

I was even prouder that I didn’t lose my shit.   Did I love what happened?  Hell no, I’m not at master level with this, but I decided not to descend into complete panic. 

The way I see it, if you can live this principle, you become impervious to the vicious turns that life can take.  Almost like a super power. It does not mean that you don’t have any feelings about what has happened, nor does it mean that you cannot make moves to try and improve the situation.  It means that you recognize that your reaction to these circumstance is always a choice. 

This is acceptance in its truest form. 

Knowing that what happened cannot be changed and life must continue, even with this event as part of the timeline.  It’s where you can release it, so it has no power over you.  It’s you letting go of the notion of what should or what you wished had happened, instead accepting the reality of what did happen. 

This is a lifelong journey.  One you have to bring yourself back to daily.  The longer you are here on this plane of existence, the higher the probability that you will experience something potentially devastating.  

None of us is getting out of here alive, but we all have the power to decide how we’re going to spend the time we do have.   We can decide how we’ll react to our fate and whether or not what happens gets the best of us.