Do you believe in fate or do you believe you can control your own destiny?
Whenever I think that we hold the keys to our destiny, I always remember my cousin, Randy. Outside of my older brother, Randy was my cousin and my best friend. We were of the same age, and we were always paired together during summer vacations. We were even paired together at my aunt’s wedding. I was a flower girl and he was the ring bearer, and to this day, it’s something that people will mention when his name comes up in the conversation.
Through the years and the summer vacations where we’d end up together, we played games – play house, ride bikes with all my brothers and cousins on hot summer days, take swimming and diving lessons at the Y and even spar in our own karate and boxing matches. As we got older, though we had different interests, he always found time to hang out at our apartment, enjoy the meals I cooked (he developed a crush on my roommate and so he was always “in the area” though he never once asked her out because he said he was focusing on his studies) and bring over ears of yellow corn he’d buy on his way home from the university, and together we’d steam them and then sit on the stoop at sundown to enjoy every juicy kernel and talk. He even had a band – a new age band ala Depeche Mode – and they even managed to sing at the grandstand at Fuente Osmeña.
When I left for the US, Randy went to law school, returning to his hometown to be with his parents. Though he lived in the dorm, he always found time to make sure his parents were alright. When he graduated top in his class, he already had jobs lined up to hire him. For the first time, I did not feel bad to be compared to him – that of all the grandchildren (except for my older brother), Randy was the best one (while the rest of us, I guess, were an unaccomplished lot) for he was smart, kind, funny and was such a gentleman. With all that, clearly here was a man who was crafting his destiny. He was named after our grandfather who had been a lawyer, judge, counselor and mayor – and he was on his way there.
I don’t remember what I was doing when I heard that Randy was crushed by a boulder in a fake waterfall of sorts at the beachfront resort they were staying in prior to taking the board exams. I thought my mother was joking when she said it – she always joked about death, though never once attributing someone we knew in her jokes. I still remember hearing that his friends realized that something was very wrong when the water from upstream (Randy had gone ahead to explore the waterfalls) came trickling down red with blood.
That day, I remember going to the church for the first time in years. I didn’t attend mass – I couldn’t bear to hear someone about to tell me that it is all god’s will, that it was part of some plan. Instead, I lit a candle. Maybe two. And maybe I said a prayer but mostly I was angry – really angry at the joke that had just been handed down to us. Why him? I remember asking god then. He was the best of all of us combined.
So craft your destiny the way you want, the way you wish it to be. There’s no harm in trying after all. But never forget that there’s someone else at the wheel, and it’s not you. And whoever he is, he’s got the keys to your fate. And sometimes, maybe as a joke or maybe because he really believes it’s for the best, he can simply just turn it all off, and take it all away.