Famous people throughout history have said some interesting things about fate.

Napoleon Bonaparte, 19th century French military leader, one of the most triumphant military commanders of all time, said, "Circumstances--what are circumstances? I make circumstances." It seems Napoleon didn't believe in fate.

But he also said this, "There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed," perhaps during his final defeat at Waterloo, or as he spent the last six years of his life in a British prison, before his demise at age 51.

"I don't believe in providence and fate, as a technologist I am used to reckoning with the formulae of probability."
Max Rudolf Frisch, Swiss playwright and novelist

Interestingly, Max Frisch seems to entertain the notion of fate in his 1957 novel “Homo Faber.” The main character, Walter Faber, believes in reason over predetermination, yet ultimately rethinks that position. Malcom Forbes in the Montreal Review puts it this way:

“Faber exercises his rational mind by regaling us with statistics relating to the likelihood of improbable accidents and incidents befalling us. He downplays any significance of providence but from this point on experiences a series of extraordinary coincidences, mainly in the form of chance encounters. When Sabeth turns out to be the daughter he never knew he had he is compelled to re-evaluate the faith he placed in technology over fate. 'I'm a technologist and accustomed to seeing things as they are,' he informs us early on in the novel. But when the unforeseen occurs and when the improbable morphs into the unbelievable, he is left floundering. Faber revises his whole outlook at the close of the novel when lying in his hospital bed, vanquished and desolate. 'Life is not matter and cannot be mastered by technology,' he decides.”

"Fate laughs at probabilities."
E.G. Bulwer-Lytton 19th century English novelist and playwright

“Fate is for losers.”
Douglas Coupland, novelist and artist, appointed member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

His quote, “Fate is for losers,” is amusing considering how his writing career began, according to Wikipedia: “He completed courses in business science, fine art, and industrial design in Japan in 1986. Established as a designer working in Tokyo, Coupland suffered a skin condition brought on by Tokyo's summer climate, and returned to Vancouver. Before leaving Japan, Coupland had sent a postcard ahead to a friend in Vancouver. The friend's husband, a magazine editor, read the postcard and offered Coupland a job writing for the magazine. Coupland began writing for magazines as a means of paying his studio bills. Reflecting on his becoming a writer, Coupland has admitted that he became one 'By accident. I never wanted to be a writer. Now that I do it, there's nothing else I'd rather do.'"

“It is nobody's right to be waited on and nobody's fate to do the waiting.”
Margaret Heffernan, writer and businesswoman

Perhaps she is seeing ahead in the future where artificial intelligence takes care of all the service industry jobs? Does she believe it should be illegal for a woman to be a housewife, even if that's her desire? Or, is this her way of dealing with guilt about her success or perhaps she's merely indulging her audience? “It’s not your fate to ever work in a service job” sells more books than “You have to start somewhere.”

“Change your plate. Change your fate.”
Kris Carr, New York Times best-selling author and wellness activist

While we applaud Kris Carr for overcoming cancer and we also believe that diet and wellness has a lot to do with longevity and vitality, you can’t change fate with vegetables. When fate summons you, you have free will to react, but no amount of antioxidents and green juice will change what is destined. That is a catchy marketing phrase though, isn't it?

"Not what we experience, but how we perceive what we experience, determines our fate."
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, 19th century German writer

While we admire and agree with her suggestion that positive thinking can improve your life, we disagree that changing your perception will change what is destined. Denying the cold, hard realities of life won't make them go away.

These final six quotes, we believe, encapsulate the essence of the philosophy of personal fate:

"If there's any business that instructs you in the strong hand of fate, it's show business. You can plan and plan, but it's what happens to you that really determines what your career will be like."
Sam Waterston, American actor, director, and producer

"My fate cannot be mastered; it can only be collaborated with and thereby, to some extent, directed. Nor am I the captain of my soul; I am only its noisiest passenger."
Aldous Huxley, English writer and philosopher

“All things are subject to decay and when fate summons, monarchs must obey.”
John Dryden, English poet and playwright

"Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Fate leads him who follows it, and drags him who resist."

Copyright © Scott Petullo, Stephen Petullo

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Scott Petullo and Stephen Petullo offer vital, 
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