CHARACTER IS DESTINY. So said Heraclitus. But what did he mean?
It would be presumptuous of me to tell you what he meant, but I’m going to anyway. Besides, what is Heraclitus going to do about it? He died about 2500 years ago. I’m not too worried about pushback.
What he meant about character being destiny is that people don’t change. A person’s nature – just like that of a tree, or a fish, or a single strand of solder – is what it is. Whoever you happen to emerge from your mother’s womb as, all wet and red and crying, that’s who you are on your deathbed, and at every moment in-between.
So people don’t change. Well, good. We shouldn’t want them to. That’s not what they’re here for. They’re not here to change. They’re especially not here to change into what you or I wish they were.
No, they’re here to blossom. If you don’t believe me, read this, from Steven Pressfield in The War of Art:
In other words, none of us are born as passive generic blobs waiting for the world to stamp its imprint on us. Instead we show up possessing already a highly refined and individuated soul.
Another way of thinking of it is this: We’re not born with unlimited choices.
We can’t be anything we want to be.
We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.
Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
If we were born to paint, it’s our job to become a painter.
If we were born to raise and nurture children, it’s our job to become a mother.
If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it’s our job to realize it and get down to business.
Do you agree? I certainly do. We are not here to change. We are here to blossom.