The Hinges of Destiny

wooden spoon

Pythagoras once said that “choices are the hinges of destiny” and it can be argued that this statement becomes increasingly relevant as we grow older.

There is no denying that we each only have so much time to walk this earth and the quality of that experience largely depends on our attitude. There are moments when we each one of us are unhappy with a situation and it is tempting to claim that the circumstances are beyond our control; that it is too late, that we have no choice, and that we just have to accept our fate.

And perhaps if we sit alone that might be true; but if we ever found a way to overcome our fears and shame and prejudices things might be entirely different. I heard a story at a seminar once that sums it up very well:

A man died and he was met at the gates of heaven by an angel who asked him if he wanted to go to heaven or hell. Being a wise person, the man asked if he could see them both first before making a decision.

The angel agreed and first led him to hell which turned out to be an enormous cave filled with desperate suffering emaciated people. Although there was a huge caldron of steaming delicious soup in the middle of the cave, each person had a heavy wooden spoon lashed to their arm with a handle so long that they were unable to get anything to eat.

“This is not for me” cried the man, “take me to heaven!”

The angel nodded and whisked him away. An instant later the man found himself standing in what appeared to be the same cave, with the same huge caldron of soup and all the people had the same long handled spoons lashed to their arms. But unlike the first cave, these people were happy and well-nourished and thriving.

The man was perplexed. “I don’t understand what the difference is,” he said. “Is this some sort of a trick?”

“Far from it,” the angel replied. “In heaven they have learned to feed each other”…

Thinking about this story now, I do think there might be a catch because when everyone is stuck in a world of suffering nothing changes until someone is brave enough to make the first move.

Sometimes, to make life better for yourself, even though you are in pain, you might well have to feed and care for others who are not yet strong enough to help you, and there is no guarantee that they will ever return the favour. This is a very difficult concept for most of us to embrace because any time we take half a step in this direction a little voice inside us screams, “Stop! What about me?”

And that is the moment that your destiny hinges upon your next move. You can withdraw back into the selfish darkness, or you can choose to believe that it will all work out somehow and simply get on with the task at hand.

The question is … when the moment comes what will you do?


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