Two Roads Diverge…

February 23, 2014

Recently listening to eminent Jungian Analyst James Hollis lecture from his book, What Matters Most, he raised the issue of fate and suggested we are faced by the limiting powers of fate as well as the developmental power of destiny. The result – we may set off in one direction and end up somewhere else.

Recently while developing a story for ZenMen, (my blog on my previous life as an advertising guy) I encountered a story within a story. It concerned my promotion to manager of the agency with whom I worked. I was sitting across from the President of McGavins Foods while my boss disseminated the news of his retirement and my move up. My client was making a series of positive affirmations and congratulations; needless to say it was one of the more positive moments in my career. Little did I know how far apart destiny would take us.

My client and I shared many similarities. We had both grown up in England, had attended institutions incongruously named public school, actually a private institution where the ruling class were generally educated. Evelyn Waugh once quoted that “anyone who has been to an English public school will always feel comparatively at home in prison” a sentiment that mirrors my own

We were both in our mid forties, smart, successful and at a point where the world was our oyster. The prospect of continued success and growth in the corporate world appeared certain.

Yet within two years I had given it all up, fallen impetuously in love with a younger woman: left my job, my wife and home, my friends and cashed in all my airline points for two first class tickets around the world.

He continued on the predetermined path of commercial success moving from promotion to promotion eventually running the largest brewer in the world and building a legacy to his own success – a 47,000 square foot stately home titled Chelster Hall costing $45 million in Oakville, Ontario.

This moment, a fragment in time that occurred in 1989 brought home once again the fascinating relationship between fate and choice. Hollis would argue that much of what happens to us is outside the sphere of our conscious awareness. In hindsight my course of action at that time seems to verge on the lunatic and I do not recall making a conscious choice. It was as though I was swept away and recall no hesitation or sense of doubt.

The ancient Greeks believed that there was an ultimate agency that predetermines the course of events. Was there an unconscious energy prompting me to act in such an irrational manner?

Four years later an observer could have argued that I had made a really bad decision. The love of my life left me and my life was in tattered ruins. It is as though fate ordained that I leave the comfort of the status quo for a bold new adventure.

Kahil Gibran in his masterpiece The Prophet says, “your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding,” It is clear to me today that this was when the true journey of the second half of my life began. Like a deer in the headlights I had no idea what was coming or where I was going. Little did I know that this was the first step in the journey of a cynical type A advertising executive becoming a spiritual coach.