Melissa Todd: Surrender yourself to fate

Melissa Todd

In 2019 I’ve decided to be more evil and pursue more cosmetic intervention. There’s nothing in the rules that resolutions have to be dreary. I’ve checked.

My friend Lou plans to lose eight stone and give up drinking. Well, that sounds ghastly, doesn’t it? Worse, she made the exact same plans last year, and failed colossally before Burns night. Her failure, and embarrassment at her failure, saw her take to drink and pies with renewed gusto, in true circle of life style. Yet she still believes that a man-made, entirely artificial division of time can invest her willpower with magical powers. Fear not, I’ll be there to pick up the pieces and mix up the martinis when she realises her blunder.

All that jog more and get up earlier stuff, be more productive, eat less cheese, is a nonsense. You’re doing the very best you can already, given your circumstances and character, and any efforts to undermine yourself by kicking away your particular preferred crutches are doomed to end in disaster. Whatever it takes to quieten your mind and get you through the night will always win. If it takes kilos of cheese to render your drab, wretched existence tolerable, so be it. You might find you surrender the cheese and substitute something vastly more scandalous. Stick to the vices that work for you, that’s my feeling. They’ve got you this far, after all. Where’s your sense of loyalty?

I’m a determinist. It’s not fashionable, I realise, but I’m confident there’s very little you can do to escape your fate. The family and class to which you’re born afford you a perfectly predictable future, give or take a few irrelevant details. Sure, maybe you’ll marry this one or that one, take that job or decide to emigrate instead. But your base levels of health, happiness and accomplishment are determined long before your birth. No amount of hoping, wriggling or cheese denial can change them.

I daresay the idea you’re not in control of your future has made you furious. See? So predictable. Determinism rocks. Actually, angsty one, relax; it’s a blessing. Once you understand you can’t possibly amount to any more than fate decrees, you can proceed to enjoy yourself however you choose, without guilt or regret. Relax and let life mow you down. It’ll happen anyway, and hurt more if you resist. And if you do instead choose to worsen the worst month of the year with a frenzied course of self-improvement, for heaven’s sake don’t inflict the details on the rest of us.

The only way to defeat fate is to accept it. Be content with your lot. Stop blaming yourself for your failures, vowing to change, then failing again. True happiness, true achievement, lies in relaxing, shrugging, surrendering.

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