Warning: Uncharacteristically philosophical/existential post follows. Read at your own risk.
I don’t really believe in fate.
I don’t really* believe in God. Or gods. Or powers that be.
But I believe in The Universe***. I believe that as Earth turns on its axis and circles the sun, as it exists weightlessly in an as-yet uncharted, endless space, all the things we can’t define on a daily basis are a result of these incredible facets of the space we live in every day. Do you ever stop to think about the infinity of space? The blackness of the universe? The unbelievable existence of planets and solar systems and our tiny, insignificant and yet vitally important role on these floating rocks?
*Read: Not at all.**
**But I reserve the right to use certain phrases traditionally associated with religious dogma, simply because I find them culturally relevant. I think this is fair.
***”The Universe” is an all-encompassing term for things I don’t understand but which I believe have impact on my life. This is my version of God, gods, whatever – and I’m fine with it.
I do, and it boggles my mind.
So when I say I believe in The Universe, I don’t mean that I believe that unique situations are “provided” by a higher power, but simply that the place we exist in any moment in time is directly related to the the rotation of the earth, the trajectory around the sun, our position in the greater expanse of the universe. I believe that wherever we are, because no one is looking out for us, we have to decide how to handle everything that comes our way.
Which is where b’shert comes in.
I had an amazing dinner with my friend the rabbi not too long ago, and in the course of conversation, he asked me about dating (at which point I snorted into my wine). I shared with him some of the trials and tribulations I’ve experienced over time, and he – always the jokester, the king of forwards, the man who’s ever laughing – said to me, very seriously: “I know you’ll find your b’shert.”
Something about the way he said it, and the exoticness of the word itself immediately, IMMEDIATELY spoke to me. I asked him to explain, and he shared that b’shert is a Yiddish word that means either destiny, or a person who is one’s destiny. While I have a tendency to be overly emotional (that would be the “flair for the dramatic” in me) something about this word struck a chord that resonated in complete harmony with everything I believe about my place on this earth, and what I can expect to find here. Because I don’t believe that I have a “path”, but I do believe that I have a purpose – that everyone does! – and that I’ve just not yet found it. You see, to me, b’shert doesn’t mean that God or gods are providing the map for my life – it means that a destiny exists for me, and that it is simply what I choose to make it! Isn’t that amazing?! Isn’t that liberating? To think that you don’t have to wait for your destiny to be put in front of you, but that you can make it whatever you want, starting right now. B’shert means to me that a destiny exists…but whether that’s to be a person who simply exists on Earth or a person who makes a dent in others’ lives and this world is completely up to me to define. It means that my b’shert – my destined someone – will be who I choose, not who is put in front of me. I’m not waiting for him…I’m waiting to decide upon the person to whom I assign that title. It means that when I eventually say to someone, “You are my b’shert”, my path has not been chosen for me…but that I have chosen the path that makes my life.
I know, in many ways, this logic isn’t really different than someone who believes God is providing a path, or that fate or destiny has provided a situation that is a defining moment in time for a person. But the fact that I feel every day is simply a product of the place I happen to live on this earth means that I can choose what my b’shert will be.
So b’shert means something to me. It energizes me to think that my life is a choice. I know it’s easy to say when all is going well – when I’ve not been struck my major tragedy, or poverty, or misfortune – but I hope, that (God/Universe forbid) if that day comes, I’ll find a way to define my b’shert and thus my rightful place in this world.
At the end of the day, if we’re not always, always seeking the path to enlightened existence, in however small or large capacity…what else are we here for?
My b’shert exists – my destiny, and my destined one. And when I find them – nay, when I choose them…the whole world will know.