Are Some Things Meant to Be?
An exploration of manifestation, empowerment, and fate with a surprising conclusion
Just over a year ago, my wife and I moved into our dream home — literally. It was a house we’d first seen in 2002 and dreamed of being able to buy but couldn’t afford. We told ourselves “if it ever comes back on the market, we’re going to get it”, but it never did and we got on with our lives.
Then last spring everything changed. The house came on the market, but it was still too expensive. Then they lowered the price and we made an offer and they accepted it. Then someone made an offer on our house and we accepted it. And while there were a number of twists and turns along the way, there was a feeling of inevitability to the whole thing, a kind of “if it’s meant to be, it will happen”. And a few long months after we started the process we moved into our new home.
In attempting to make sense of that whole adventure, it occurred to me that there are a few conclusions it would be tempting to draw from what happened followed by the way it actually looks to me like things work when you’re attempting to create cool stuff on planet earth…
Theory One: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”
According to the influential architect Frank Lloyd Wright:
“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”
While that’s the kind of quote I used to eat for a breakfast alongside a hearty helping of self-empowerment and a healthy dose of shame for not being able to believe in stuff enough to make it happen, it doesn’t seem apt here. Neither of us particularly believed it would happen, and in fact for many of the 17 years or so between seeing it and having it, it wasn’t in our consciousness at all.
Even a few weeks before we finally closed, when a friend asked me if I thought it would happen, I gave it a 10% chance based on the way things were unfolding. So if believing in a positive result wasn’t particularly relevant, what was?
Theory Two: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”
The personal empowerment theory would argue that we were able to buy this house as a result of hard work and consistent effort over time. While I have certainly worked hard and consistently on many things over time, buying this house wasn’t one of them.
While the amount of hopeful and paranoid thinking we’ve experienced over the past five months has certainly made this feel like hard work at times, the only ones really working hard were our tireless realtors, mortgage broker, and the moving company that finally left the house close to midnight on Friday night.
All we’ve done to “make this happen” was whatever was on our plate for the day. We read, occasionally questioned, and signed small mountains of paperwork; we tidied our house to make it look beautiful for our prospective buyers. When there was a problem, as there often was, we did what occurred to us to do to solve it and left the rest in the hands of the gods. Which takes us to theory three…
Theory Three: “God/The Universe/Fate wanted us to have this house”
There’s something deeply attractive to me about the notion that everything is predetermined and nothing we do can particularly make or stop anything from happening.
As the mystical poet Omar Khayyam wrote:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
It lets me off the hook for anything and everything, and in those moments that it looks true to me I do have a sort of a devil may care attitude towards life reminiscent of Robert Duvall taking his men surfing in the midst of the war in Vietnam and enjoying “the smell of napalm in the morning”.
But I’ve also seen that going too deeply down the rabbit hole of this kind of thinking leads us into a host of side conversations about whether or not we’re worthy or deserving of good things and what we could or should be doing to become more worthy by releasing our blocks to wealth, health, love, success, or whatever it is we think we need in order to be happy.
So how do I actually think creating in the world works?
Here’s what it looks like to me…
- Desire marks the path
There’s a reason you want what you want and don’t want what you don’t want. While some of it is to do with our conditioning — what’s desirable in one culture may be repugnant in another — there is another kind of wanting that seems to come from a richer place inside us. In my work I call this our “soul path”, because it feels like it’s being laid out one step at a time from somewhere deep inside us.
When we follow our unfolding desires and inclinations without worrying too much about where they’ll take us, good things seem to happen much of the time and it’s usually pretty easy to enjoy the game.
2. Neediness is a dream-killer
As soon as a desire starts feeling like a need, over-seriousness sets in and people begin to “play tight”. When I was at a real low point during the whole home-buying process, my coach asked me to ask my soul a simple question:
“Do you really need this house?”
That night I took my dogs for a walk past the outside of the house and stopped to reflect. After five minutes it became clear to me that I could be perfectly happy for the rest of my life without it, and that I would love to live in it if I could. From that moment forward, the whole process seemed a lot lighter — super cool if it happened, no big deal if not.
3. Keep your feet moving
In my first book, I wrote a story called “The Room of 1000 Demons”:
Every hundred years, members of an ancient order of monks gather in a secret location high in the Himalayas for a sacred ritual. For one day only, every monk is given the opportunity for instantaneous enlightenment. All they have to do is to walk through a room known only as “The Room of 1000 Demons” — and come out alive!
Rumor has it that The Room of 1000 Demons is pitch-black and filled, as you might expect, with 1000 of the nastiest demons from the netherworlds of hell. These demons appear to you in the guise of your biggest and worst fears — giant spiders, poisonous snakes, sheer precipices, or whatever they sense would fill your heart with terror.
There are only two rules to the challenge: first, once you enter, no one can come in and rescue you; second, it is impossible to leave by the door you entered. For those few brave souls who dare to face their fears in pursuit of happiness, success, and enlightenment, there are also two bits of advice:
- Remember that whatever you think is going on around you, it’s just a projection of your own mind.
- No matter what you think you see, hear, think, or feel, keep your feet moving. If you keep your feet moving, you will eventually come out the other side.
So are some things meant to be?
But I suspect this is a deeper truth:
The only way we can truly know if something is meant to be is that it is.
Michael Neill is an international thought leader and master coach, challenging the cultural mythology that stress and struggle are a prerequisite to creativity, happiness, and success. As the founder and CEO of Genius Catalyst Inc., Michael’s mission is to unleash the human potential with intelligence, humor, and heart.
To learn more about Michael and his work, visit www.michaelneill.org or join the nearly two million people who have enjoyed his TEDx talks Why Aren’t We Awesomer? and Can a TEDx Talk Really Change the World?