Today is October 28 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you redefine your destiny?” People who find a way to navigate the chaos spend a good deal of time thinking about their destiny. The etymology of destiny is from the Old French meaning “to make firm or establish.” What is it that you want to make firm or establish with your life? Over the centuries many authors have commented on man’s search for destiny. Three recent authors are Herman Hesse, David B. Wolf, and John Kaag.
German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter Herman Hesse explored an individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge, and spirituality in his writings that included Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. On destiny Hesse wrote: “Each man had only one genuine vocation - to find the way to himself. His task was to discover his own destiny - not an arbitrary one - and to live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one's own inwardness.” In 2008 David B. Wolf published Relationships that Work: The Power of Conscious Living and referred to a word closely related to destiny but one that has a richer history – dharma.
According to Wolf “To enrich understanding of our innate spiritual qualities, the principle of dharma is helpful. Dharma refers to ‘that which cannot be separated from a thing.’ Fire, for example, can be used for different purposes, such as cooking. Cooking however is not the dharma of fire, because fire can exist without cooking. Heat is the dharma of fire. Heat is an intrinsic, inseparable quality of fire.” As philosopher John Kaag, wrote in his 2018 book Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are “The self does not lie passively in wait for us to discover it. Selfhood is made in the active, ongoing process, in the German verb, werden, ‘to become.’” Hesse, Wolf, and Kaag each highlight the role of the individual in the development of one’s destiny.
One example of a person’s dharma is Adam Driver and his destiny, with acting. Throughout his life Driver used an active, ongoing process to create his life. Driver has described his younger self as a "misfit"; he told M Magazine that he climbed radio towers, set objects on fire, and co-founded a fight club with friends, inspired by the 1999 film Fight Club. After high school, he worked as a door-to-door salesman selling Kirby vacuum cleaners and as a telemarketer for a basement waterproofing company and Ben Franklin Construction. He applied to the Juilliard School for drama but was rejected. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Driver enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines as an 81mm mortar man. He served for two years and eight months before dislocating his sternum while mountain biking. He was medically discharged with the rank of Lance Corporal. He then attended the University of Indianapolis for a year before auditioning again for Juilliard, this time succeeding.
Driver said that his classmates saw him as an intimidating and volatile figure, and he struggled to fit into a lifestyle so different from the Marines. He was a member of the Drama Division's Group 38 (2005–2009), where he met his future wife, Joanne Tucker. He graduated with a BFA degree in 2009. After graduating from Juilliard, Driver began his acting career in New York City, appearing in both Broadway and off-Broadway productions. Like many aspiring actors, he occasionally worked as a busboy and waiter. Driver also appeared in several television shows and short films. His first on-screen appearance was in the series finale of The Unusuals in 2009 as a repentant witness and reluctant accomplice to an unsolved assault.
He made his feature film debut in Clint Eastwood's biographical drama J. Edgar in 2011. In 2012, Driver was cast in the HBO comedy-drama series Girls, as the emotionally unstable Adam Sackler, the boyfriend of the lead character Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham). He received three nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role. Driver began his film career in supporting roles in films such as Lincoln (2012), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his lead role in the drama Hungry Hearts (2014).
Driver gained wider recognition for playing Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy (2015–2019). In 2019, he returned to theater with Burn This, for which he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He received two consecutive nominations at the Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actor for BlacKkKlansman (2018) and Best Actor for Marriage Story (2019). Driver is the founder of Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit that provides free arts programming to American active-duty service members, veterans, military support staff, and their families around the world.
Driver simply could not be separated from his dharma of acting. He had to overcome initially being rejected by Juilliard. He enrolled in the Marines to pursue a different career but his broken back led him to be medically discharged. Back home he then started college, eventually got into Juilliard, and launched his career. Driver could have easily quit any number of times. He decided to define and create his destiny and figure out a way to move forward.
How often are you thinking about your vocation?
What have you done lately to discover your own destiny?
What is your dharma?
Do you understand that selfhood is made in the active, ongoing process?