Quotations about   destiny

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We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.

Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) American architect, engineer
(Attributed)

Quoted in L. Steven Sieden, A Fuller View (2012).
Added on 12-Feb-18 | Last updated 12-Feb-18
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I believe that happiness consists in having a destiny in keeping with our abilities. Our desires are things of the moment, often harmful even to ourselves; but our abilities are permanent, and their demands never cease.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Reflections on Suicide (1813)
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Added on 21-Aug-17 | Last updated 21-Aug-17
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“The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on” — and only then do you find out if it goosed you in passing.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Farnham’s Freehold, ch. 21 (1964)
    (Source)

See Omar Khayyám.
Added on 7-Aug-17 | Last updated 7-Aug-17
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A man’s character is his fate.

Heraclitus (c.540-c.480 BC) Greek philosopher [also Heracleitus]
“On the Universe,” fragment 121
Added on 14-Mar-17 | Last updated 14-Mar-17
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Destiny is for people who are too lazy to create alternate timelines.

Other Authors and Sources
Richard Stevens III, Diesel Sweeties (5 Oct 2011)
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Added on 4-Jan-17 | Last updated 4-Jan-17
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The conflict between the principle of liberty and the fact of slavery is coming gradually to an issue. Slavery has now the power, and falls into convulsions at the approach of freedom. That the fall of slavery is predetermined in the counsels of Omnipotence I cannot doubt; it is a part of the great moral improvement in the condition of man, attested by all the records of history. But the conflict will be terrible, and the progress of improvement perhaps retrograde before its final progress to consummation.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Journal (11 Dec 1838)
Added on 31-Oct-16 | Last updated 31-Oct-16
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Captain, the problem is not that I’m paranoid. The problem is that the universe keeps justifying my paranoia.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
The End of All Things (2015)
Added on 25-Oct-16 | Last updated 25-Oct-16
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Fate chooses our relatives, we choose our friends.

Jacques Delille (1738-1813) French poet, translator
“Malheur et Pitié,” Canto 1 (1803)
Added on 3-Oct-16 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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MONGO: Mongo only pawn in game of life.

Mel Brooks (b. 1926) American comedic actor, writer, producer [b. Melvyn Kaminsky]
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Added on 3-Aug-16 | Last updated 3-Aug-16
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Small are the seeds fate does unheeded sow
Of slight beginnings to important ends.

William Davenant (1606-1668) English poet and playwright [a.k.a. William D'Avenant]
Gondibert, Canto 2 (1650)
Added on 8-Jun-16 | Last updated 8-Jun-16
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The human soul, the world, the universe are laboring on to their magnificent consummation. We are not fashioned thus marvelously for nought.

Emerson - fashioned thus marvelously - wist_info quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Dec 1820)
Added on 13-Jan-16 | Last updated 13-Jan-16
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RESPONSIBILITY, n. A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one’s neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
Added on 5-Jan-16 | Last updated 5-Jan-16
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WILL MUNNY: It’s a helluva thing killing a man. You take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.

SCHOFIELD KID: Well, I guess they had it coming.

WILL MUNNY: We all have it coming, kid.

David Webb Peoples (b. 1940) American screenwriter
Unforgiven (film) (1992)

Will Munny was played by Clint Eastwood.
Added on 14-Dec-15 | Last updated 14-Dec-15
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MALVOLIO: Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

Shakespeare - greatness thrust - wist_info

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Twelfth Night, Act 2, Sc. 5, l. 156 (1599)
Added on 11-Nov-15 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
(Attributed)

Never specifically cited, and attributed with variations in the language. Also attributed as a Chinese or Buddhist proverb.
Added on 26-Oct-15 | Last updated 26-Oct-15
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The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable; for the happy impute all their success to prudence or merit.
Jonathan Swift - fortune - wist_info

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1706)
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Added on 15-Oct-15 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
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It is not written in the stars that I will always understand what is going on — a truism that I often find damnably annoying.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Friday Jones] (1982)
Added on 13-Oct-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-15
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Sometimes I wonder whether if I’d been the one that went for coffee and not Leslie May my life would have been much less interesting and certainly much less dangerous. Could it have been anyone, or was it destiny? When I’m considering this I find it helpful to quote the wisdom of my father, who once told me, “Who knows why the fuck anything happens?”

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Rivers of London [Midnight Riot] (2011)
Added on 30-Sep-15 | Last updated 30-Sep-15
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Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there … and light the bloody thing yourself.

Sara Henderson (1936-2005) Australian pastoralist and author
The Strength in Us All (1994)
Added on 29-Sep-15 | Last updated 29-Sep-15
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Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been fate. People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that’s a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events — the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there — that must also be a miracle. Just because it’s not nice doesn’t mean it’s not miraculous.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Interesting Times (1994)
Added on 2-Sep-15 | Last updated 2-Sep-15
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Do your duty, and leave the outcome to the Gods.

Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) French tragedian
Horace, Act 2, sc. 8 (1640)
Added on 9-Jul-15 | Last updated 9-Jul-15
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There isn’t a way things should be. There’s just what happens, and what we do.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
A Hat Full of Sky (2004)
Added on 20-May-15 | Last updated 20-May-15
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Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.

Wilson Mizner (1876-1933) American screenwriter and wit
In Alva Johnston, The Legendary Mizners, ch. 4 (1953)

Also quoted in Evan Esar, The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (1949).
Added on 23-Apr-15 | Last updated 23-Jan-17
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I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
Added on 23-Apr-15 | Last updated 23-Apr-15
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A man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) American journalist, writer
Letter to Hume Logan (22 Apr 1958)
Added on 22-Apr-15 | Last updated 22-Apr-15
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One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voices of the people themselves.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Tomorrow Is Now (1963)
Added on 15-Apr-15 | Last updated 15-Apr-15
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The great and glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live to purpose; all other things, to reign, to lay up treasure, to build, are, at most, but little appendices and props.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
“Of Experience,” Essays, Vol 3, ch. 13 [ed. Hazlitt, tr. Cotton]
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Added on 6-Apr-15 | Last updated 6-Apr-15
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The art of life isn’t controlling what happens, which is impossible; it’s using what happens.

Gloria Steinem (b. 1934) American feminist, journalist, activist
Moving Beyond Words, “Doing Sixty” (1994)
Added on 2-Apr-15 | Last updated 2-Apr-15
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Come, clear the way, then, clear the way:
Blind creeds and kings have had their day.
Break the dead branches from the path;
Our hope is in the aftermath —
Our hope is in heroic men,
Star-led to build the world again.
To this Event the ages ran:
Make way for Brotherhood — make way for Man.

Edwin Markham (1852-1940) American poet
“Brotherhood,” The Man with the Hoe and Other Poems (1899)
Added on 6-Mar-15 | Last updated 6-Mar-15
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There is a destiny that makes us brothers:
None goes his way alone:
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back onto our own.

Edwin Markham (1852-1940) American poet
“A Creed To Mr. David Lubin”, st. 1, Lincoln & Other Poems (1901)
Added on 27-Feb-15 | Last updated 27-Feb-15
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Happy is he who learns to bear what he cannot change!

Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) German poet, playwright, critic [Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller]
“On the Sublime”
Added on 1-Dec-14 | Last updated 1-Dec-14
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One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
‘Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) American author and poet.
“‘Tis the Set of the Sail” (1916)
Added on 12-Nov-14 | Last updated 12-Nov-14
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She was temptable — which, if you believe in an all-powerful God, means God intentionally put temptation into Eve. Which seems like a dirty trick, if you ask me.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
The Ghost Brigades, ch. 13 (2006)
Added on 10-Sep-14 | Last updated 10-Sep-14
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Voyage upon life’s sea,
To yourself be true,
And, whatever your lot may be,
Paddle your own Canoe.

Sarah T. Bolton (1814-1893) American poet, women's activist (née Sarah Tittle Barrett)
“Paddle Your Own Canoe,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (May 1854)
Added on 5-Sep-14 | Last updated 5-Sep-14
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Those people you saw — the realborn — are born without a plan. They’re born because biology tells humans to make more humans; but it doesn’t consider what to do with them after that. Realborn go for years without the slightest clue what they’re going to do with themselves. From what I understand, some of them never actually figure it out. They just walk through life in a daze and then fall into their graves at the end of it. Sad. And inefficient.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
The Ghost Brigades, ch. 5 (2006)
Added on 26-Aug-14 | Last updated 26-Aug-14
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Don’t believe the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

Robert Jones Burdette (1844-1914) American humorist, lecturer, clergyman
“Advice to Young Men,” lecture (1833)

Quoted in the Duluth Evening Observer (1 Feb 1883). Frequently misattributed to Mark Twain. See here for more information.
Added on 16-Jun-14 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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How small man is on this little atom where he dies! But how great his intelligence! He knows when the face of the stars must be masked in darkness, when the comets will return after thousands of years, he who lasts only an instant! A microscopic insect lost in a fold of the heavenly robe, the orbs cannot hide from him a single one of their movements in the depth of space. What destinies will those stars, new to us, light? Is their revelation bound up with some new phase of humanity? You will know, race to be born; I know not, and I am departing.

François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave [Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe], Book 42, ch. 18 (1848-1850) [tr. Kline]
Added on 13-May-14 | Last updated 13-May-14
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Oh, well. All good things seize their bearings eventually.

Chris Bunch (1943-2005) American novelist, television writer
Fleet of the Damned (1988) [with Allan Cole]
Added on 26-Mar-14 | Last updated 26-Mar-14
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Most people are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them, they have within themselves their guide and path.

Herman Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss poet, novelist, painter
Siddhartha, ch 2 “Amongst the People” (1922) [tr. Rosner (1951)]
Added on 26-Mar-14 | Last updated 26-Mar-14
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All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (15 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 13-Dec-13 | Last updated 13-Dec-13
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The ideal world of our revolutionaries […] is a flaming sense of the immediacy of the idea, a feeling that there is something in all men better than their present fate, and a conviction that what is, not only ought not, but need not be.

Crane Brinton (1898-1968)
The Anatomy of Revolution, 2.3 (1952)
Added on 26-Nov-13 | Last updated 26-Nov-13
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Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, ch. 1 (1852)
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Added on 14-Aug-12 | Last updated 14-Mar-16
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All rising to a great place is by a winding stair.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Great Place,” Essays, No. 11 (1625)
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Added on 11-Feb-11 | Last updated 16-May-16
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The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) English poet
Idylls of the King, “The Passing of Arthur” (1859-1885)
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Added on 7-Oct-10 | Last updated 14-Jul-15
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Fortune is not on the side of the faint-hearted.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Phaedra, fragment 842

Also "Fortune never helps the fainthearted" [Fragments, l. 666]
Added on 23-Jun-08 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best you have to give.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
In Edward P. Morgan (ed.) This I Believe … (1952)
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 24-Nov-14
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But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Checker-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer
Rubáiyát, 51 [tr. FitzGerald, 1st ed. (1859)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Cymbeline, Act 4, sc. 3, l. 46 (1623)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-May-16
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The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as in playing a poor hand well.

Other Authors and Sources
H. T. Leslie
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Apr-14
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And this made me remember that common saying everyone in China was raised with: “If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.”

Amy Tan (b. 1952) American novelist
The Kitchen God’s Wife, ch. 17 (1991)
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Usually quoted without the attribution to a common saying.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Dec-14
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Don’t ever become a pessimist, Ira; a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun — and neither can stop the march of events.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Time Enough for Love [Lazarus Long] (1973)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-May-15
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Nothing determines who we will become so much as those things we choose to ignore.

Other Authors and Sources
Sandor McNab
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Apr-14
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The brave man carves out his fortune, and every man is the son of his own works.

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) Spanish novelist
Don Quixote, Part 1, Book 1, ch. 4 (1605)
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First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Discourses, ch. 23, “Concerning Such as Read and Dispute Ostentatiously” (c. AD 101-108)
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Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.

Erica Jong (b. 1942) American writer, poet
“The Artist as Housewife,” The First Ms. Reader, ed. Francine Kragbrun (1972)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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