Free choice versus free will: one exists and the other doesn’t
In my earlier blogs on fate or wyrd, I have tried to explain why we can’t really oversee which impact our so-called choices will have on our lives. We are part of a larger web, an unmeasurable three-dimensional tapestry which is being woven by all creatures on earth as we speak. Therefore, we can hope to influence but never to purposefully control the exact direction into which we are heading. What does this mean for the concepts of free will and free choice? Do they exist at all? To discuss this properly I must first point out that the two aren’t interchangeable. Free choice is not the same as free will. The fact that we aren’t able to choose exactly what we want with our lives, doesn’t mean we cannot exercise our free will. It is only somewhat limited.
The past creates the present and thus the future
Let’s try an example. A while back I found myself without a home. In our temporary house, my family and I sat down to weigh our options. Or so it seemed, because we in reality we didn’t have a choice. You see, our present had been woven from our past. Everything we were and the situation that we were in had been created previously. So, as a result, we didn’t really have a choice. From the outside it looked as if we had many options: stay in the Netherlands, go to a different country altogether, live a nomadic life… However, due to loads of factors, our personal preferences, the crowdedness and housing shortage in the Netherlands, feeling the need of a fixed abode to call home, feeling the need for social coherence, there was only one way to go.
There’s no free choice, only free will
I won’t lie to you, in what seems a lifetime ago I would have felt paralysed by what looked like a lack of options. Nowadays, I know better. Although there are still moments of frustration, I know there is no such thing as freedom of choice. We are racing forward on the waves of our life, like water always finding the obvious route. I therefore exercised the freedom that I do have, which is my freedom of will and freely accepted the course life was taking me into. We went abroad and found a lovely house which we called home and continued to call home until we were pushed into a different current. In Dutch we have this saying: als het niet gaat zoals het moet, dan moet het zoals het gaat. It means as much as: if it doesn’t happen the way you envisioned it, then you adjust your point of view.
This doesn’t mean that you cannot occasionally have the feeling that a situation is just downright rotten or that you should just hide that feeling, focussing on all that’s going right for you. Compare it to accidentally putting your hand on a hot surface. The heat is a warning, so it’s a good idea to pull your hand away immediately. If you didn’t, you would be injured even more. But, once you’re out of that panic mode, it is still wise to pay attention to your burnt hand as soon as possible. You should at least investigate how bad your skin has been burned and what you need to do to limit the damage. Otherwise, you could end up with an inflamed hand and maybe even sepsis. Accepting that things are going as they are is not the same as forcing yourself to stay positive. The latter is toxic positivity and that can seriously damage your well-being.
Is that so?
Of course, the words choice and free will are interchangeable in this blog. It really depends what meaning you attach to which word. That’s the difficulty with language, as I stated before. However, I hope my example clarifies what I mean. Seeing, really deeply understanding how things work is important to my craft. Thing is – and now I’m going to flip what I’ve said before completely upside down – you can play with wyrd. You can intentionally make the web vibrate. In fact, that is exactly what a hagetisse does when she’s crafting. That is exactly how witchcraft, sorcery and magic work.
Maybe I’ll write a piece on that one day. If I can find the words and feel it’s my place to do so. So why don’t I just conjure myself the perfect place, you’re asking? Two reasons… first of all, I’m not sure what the perfect place would look like. Secondly, I do not believe that magic should be used that way. I feel that this path has something to teach me and it is wise to pay attention.