Updated: Jun 8, 2019
What is destiny? Is it inside or outside of me?
When Alexander the Great was only 23 years old he marched his army into the city of Gordium, in modern day Turkey, and halted his men in the town square.
The first thing that caught Alexander’s eye was an old cart. It was tied to a post by an intricately knotted rope made from the bark of a cherry dogwood tree. Town squares usually feature fountains, statues or grand arches, so I suppose this ancient contraption with the gnarled knot intrigued him. He pointed at the object, the angle of his head implying a question.
A local dignitary stepped forward and explained in a deferential tone the reason for its presence in such a place of honour:
'Good sire, this knot was tied long ago by King Midas, and it is decreed that whosoever unravels it is destined to rule Asia.'
Alexander loved challenges. If he lived today he’d be a regular guest on celebrity quiz shows, pressing his button promptly and piling up the money. There were no quiz shows back then, but Asia wasn’t far away, waiting to be conquered.
It is said that Alexander had one eye as blue as the sky and the other as dark as a moonless night. Be that as it may, he looked at the knot with both eyes and decided it was too hard to untie. So he cut through it instead with his sword, thus unraveling it.
I’m sure most people in the town square that day believed Alexander had cheated, but with the late afternoon sun glinting on the swords and helmets of his loyal soldiers none dared voice their opinion.
Fulfilling the decree, Alexander the Great left Gordium and commenced the expansion of his empire into Asia.
My question is:
Would he have successfully invaded Asia if he hadn’t solved the roped riddle of the Gordian Knot?
If he had tried to undo the knot using only his fingers, and failed, would he have slunk back to his hometown? Of course not. He still would’ve rallied his men and marched eastward.
Decrees didn’t rule his life. He did.
Alexander created his own destiny by what he chose to do every day. He got up, polished his boots, donned his helmet, sheathed his sword, ate an olive or two, stepped out of his tent, conferred with his confederates, and got on with his day.
Destiny happens every day to everyone.
We destine ourselves by what we do every day.
With love, Marlane