I first discovered the word kismet when I was an adolescent in Grade 8 just bordering on the teen-age stage of “I know everything”. My grade 8 teacher was one of those teachers that comes along once in a lifetime if you are lucky. The kind that doesn’t pretend that you’re just kids, that treats you like the budding adults you are and despite the fact that he probably did know better than us in almost every situation, never once said it. On our grade 8 graduation trip we went to a rustic summer camp for a weekend a few hours away by bus. On that trip our teacher mentioned that we should keep an eye open for the word KISMET. He asked us what we thought it meant. I don’t think any of us had a clue.
On the way to the camp we passed a small abandoned boat, beached on the shore. Written on the back was it’s name – KISMET. He explained the meaning of the word and related some urban legend about the origins of the word that involved Horatio Nelson’s death and Captain Thomas Hardy (see: Kiss Me Hardy). I never forgot that word, my teacher or his unique methods of imparting knowledge that stay with you some 30+ years later.
I have always had a problem believing in fate. To me believing that we are fated to something implies that somehow we have no freewill. That word implies no matter what we do our fate is sealed. In Greek mythology the Fates were three figures that were responsible for weaving the fabric of everyone’s lives and even the gods themselves couldn’t interfere with their decisions. When the fates cut your thread, you ceased to exist.
Now, even though I don’t believe in fate, I do believe that things happen for a reason and that universe moves in mysterious ways. I know that sounds all mystic mumbo-jumbo, but hear me out. Kurt Vonnegut in his brilliant satirical novel Cat’s Cradle (go and read it if you haven’t) explores a religion called Bokonism as part of the book. One of the concepts of bokonism is the karass – a group of people working together, often unknowingly, to do God’s will. While I may not subscribe to a religious deity manipulating things behind the scenes, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe that people come into your life for a specific reason and that somehow your destinies are intertwined.
In the novel I am currently working on there are two characters who’s destinies are intertwined in this way. When they are apart the universe is out of harmony and their lives suffer, its only when they are together do things work in their favour. The fact that exist in different universes to start makes things even more interesting
Was it kismet that my Grade 8 teacher came into my life and planted these seeds in my head? Probably not, but I still think about him nearly every day.