On Fate & Free Will

I wrote this personal essay during my senior year of high school.

“Meee!!!” I screamed in excitement, raising my tiny hand. I was fascinated to learn about my future in the next 5 minutes. My grandfather picked up my palm and said: “Lucky hand, you will live long.” That’s it? While my cousins got news about their careers, juicy details about when they would get married, and the number of homes they would own, all I got was the vaguest response a palmist could give. I felt the truth was withheld from me…was there something wrong with my hand?

At age ten, my grandfather predicted I would leave India. He was right; I immigrated to America the next year. The fact that he knew about my destiny, in a mere span of five minutes, creeped me out. I inspected his eyes as he read my hands, and I skimmed through his palmistry books. After constant pestering, he revealed the lower-left line in my palm responsible for travel.

5 years later, I sat in my literature class, reading Macbeth, as my teacher questioned us about fate versus free will. This was the first time I dwelled on this topic. Almost none of the students, except me, believed in fate. My teacher responded with disbelief and shared a “weird” story of how an astrologer predicted her being wed the same year. With a strong gut feeling, I told her to believe the prediction in a journal entry submitted to her. The next year, she was engaged, which further affirmed my belief in fate.

While my grandfather was visiting us the following summer, I managed to persuade him to describe my future. I learned that I will injure my foot and make strides in scientific research. Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I have since experienced a splinter, a cut, and a sprain on my foot. Watching predictions turn into reality, I became lazy in one of my science classes, as I thought an “A” was inevitable. Underperforming in that class, I realized that my grandfather declined to share my future with me because he feared I would leave everything up to fate.

At age 16, I was curious to find more. My grandfather said, “you will do well academically this year.” That year I received high As in all of my courses for the first time in my life. All of a sudden, I didn’t want to credit my achievements to my fate. I had worked hard that year, and my inability to accept my grades as a mere product of my destiny prompted me to research the science behind palmistry. Deep into internet searches and multiple books, I learned that my palm lines were shaped by my thoughts and aspirations. Subconsciously, I knew about my future, and my hands reflected it.

What intrigued me the most was palmists have been gathering data for centuries to make accurate predictions. When I took a machine learning course this summer, where I was given the tools to make calculated predictions. I realized that a palmist’s findings were a result of a process, we are automating in today’s society through data analysis and correlations. The data science course elucidated the idea that if I have enough information about events and people, forecasting future actions and events is possible.

This year, at age 17, I have decided to rewrite my palm lines by mentally preparing myself for success. Last month, I approached my Calculus exam with a feeling of excitement, rather than a one of uncertainty. My enthusiastic mindset, while taking the test earned me a 98% and sparked a moment of realization: I could not change yesterday’s sadness or bitterness, but what I can change is tomorrow. My karma is a lingering product of all that my mind was associated with yesterday, and all that my mind will touch today will reflect who I am tomorrow. By choosing to handle today differently from yesterday, I choose the person I will be tomorrow. It’s all in my hands.

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