Anybody who thinks the world is designed so as to provide us humans with lives of fulfillment, contentment, and self-actualization, I’d like to sell you some Kool-Aid. Yesterday I glanced at a story in the paper about children being forced to join the army (in some country or other) and being beaten if they try to desert. My opportunities have been immeasurably greater than those children’s, and my privations are small potatoes indeed. But still … by my own criteria, my life hasn’t turned out at all the way it could have, and should have.
I’m not proposing to rehash all of the reasons here; that’s private stuff. I’m just wondering, is there anything in the concept of Free Will? Do I bear any responsibility for the way things have turned out? Or did it all just unfold in the manner that it was bound to?
I’m inclined to think nothing could have happened any differently. I dropped out of college because I was severely depressed over some personal issues. In the absence of those issues, I would undoubtedly have gone on to get a B.A. from Reed and graduate degrees from UC Berkeley. My life would have had most of the same themes (words and music), but almost none of the same events. Those issues have affected, in subtle ways, almost every aspect of my life.
Could I have become a successful novelist if I had stumbled onto the right mentor? Quite likely, yes. But I was blundering around in the wilderness, doing it on my own. Making unnecessary mistakes. Getting discouraged. The world was not providing resources that would have enabled me to blossom.
I knew there was a problem that needed working through. I spent, over the years, tens of thousands of dollars on therapy. The therapists didn’t know how to fix the problem. I tried, but the world was not providing the resources I needed.
Can I walk away from the army now? Will the sergeant order the other recruits to beat me?