Why You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Published on: March 20, 2014

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“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.” – Mick Jagger

Free Will or Free Choice?

In the famous Rolling Stones song Mick Jagger reminds us of life’s greatest paradox – we can’t always get what we want. Over the years, the song line has evoked mixed feelings with me, since there are aspects to it which I do not entirely side with.

Life has a mysterious force which is unbeknownst to us. Oftentimes events that transpire stem from an experience in which a lesson ensues. For example if life seeks to teach you trust, it will provide an experience vested in opposition of what you might expect. You may possibly be involved in a business relationship with someone who undermines your well-meaning intentions. In doing so life tests your resolve to trust others so that you may learn self-empowerment.

Mainstream culture affirms that we can have whatever we want, as long as we pursue it with honourable intentions. I maintain that we do not have free will. Rather we have free choice, operating within the container of a purposeful universe that co-creates your life’s experience. Therefore when we don’t get what we want, free will takes a back seat in the orchestration of life’s events.

When I exercise free choice by collaborating with universal forces, everything I want and need show up at the right time.

Life Has Other Plans

Allow me to illustrate my point with a personal story. Having graduated from high school I had mixed feelings about the course of study I would pursue at university. Like most high school students I had certain strengths and weaknesses in particular subjects, although I never really excelled in any one stream of study. Upon my final year of school I applied to study commerce at university and similarly for an opposing course of study; a bachelor of arts in fashion design.

Since I grew up in household of skilled artisans – my father was a tailor and my mother was a dressmaker, I showed an inclination toward the fine arts late in my childhood. I still recall sitting beside my father’s antique sewing machine as a child. I would observe him for hours, crafting fine luxurious fabrics into the finest quality suits. Later, a university lecturer intimated that I had acquired a visual language in tailoring after all these years.

I was selected among thousands of applicants for the fashion design course. Consequently, I missed selection for the commerce course – there are no accidents. The fashion design selection committee were fascinated by my technical knowledge of menswear and thus began my training to become a designer.

Fast forward a number of years to my final year of study. I collaborated with an Italian fashion company to produce a tailored menswear collection, inspired by my late father’s work. The collection caught the eye of those abroad where I was offered design positions in Italy and New York on the strength of the collection.

Yet life had other plans for me. Whilst in Italy, I was struck down with chickenpox within days of my arrival and bed ridden for two weeks. I had packed my portfolio, intending to visit design houses to present my work. A number of years later my father would pass away from complications resulting from type II diabetes. This heralded yet another turning point in my life. My time as a successful menswear designer was quickly eroded.

As I write, I often recall how unpredictable my journey has been. I could have never anticipated nor scripted the outcome of my life in such detail. Nowadays, I remain in awe of the incredible gift and wisdom that has been bestowed upon me to communicate the message of health and self-empowerment to small and large audiences.

Your Soul’s Path

Some of us step into our purpose while others are called to theirs. Thankfully, all these years later I am glad events transpired the way they did. I affirm we get what we need, because what we need serves our highest potential. What we want is what the ego wants.

In his writings, author Neale Donald Walsh refers to the soul’s agenda in contrast to the ego’s agenda. He suggests that your soul’s agenda is not vested in the material world, instead it is rooted in your personal evolution as a soul. What the soul desires and what the ego needs are two distinct elements.

When your ego is in conflict with your soul’s agenda we experience suffering and inner turmoil. For those who have discovered their passion and purpose, there is great fulfilment knowing you are in alignment with your soul’s agenda.

Ultimately, I believe when our soul’s needs are met, we achieve harmony and inner bliss. Recall the words of the mystic Joseph Campbell who said, “follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Perhaps the benevolent cosmos knows precisely what we need and seeks to keep us on track toward the fulfillment of that greater plan. Every time you veer off track, the universe lovingly guides you back as a reminder of your purpose and dharma, which is greater than your ego’s agenda.

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