Friedrich Nietzsche, the late 19th century German philosopher, remained much neglected for many years due to the unfortunate association of his thought with German Nazis. The whys and wherefores of how that misrepresentation came about is a matter for more erudite discussions and studies, as is his profound philosophical thought. For simpler minds like mine, what remains most compelling in his philosophical tenets is the central idea of “life-affirmation”~ that assertion to embrace the realities of this present world we live in rather than some nebulous idea of a world beyond. It’s an idea that so resonates with all those positive individual-centric, right-here-right-now kind of credos like ‘YOLO’ (you only live once) to ‘Carpe Diem’ (seize the moment) that keep doing the rounds and championing the creative ability of the individual to strive and rise beyond traditional social, cultural and moral contexts. These were revolutionary ideas for his times as they challenged traditional Christian thought and morality. To question dogmas, however widespread belief in them may be; to challenge all those precepts that drain “life’s expansive energies” and prevent the unfettered advancement of the human spirit ~that remains his fundamental revitalising philosophy that has inspired so many leading figures from all walks of life. And what lends even greater credence to his writings is the fact that for much of his life he himself remained in a condition of ill-health and often intense physical pain. As one biography puts it,
“Lesser people under the same physical pressures might not have had the inclination to pick up a pen, let alone think and record thoughts which — created in the midst of striving for healthy self-overcoming — would have the power to influence an entire century.”
In this context, one of his best known expressions of his affirmation for life is that clear exhortation in one of his works: “Amor Fati”…the Italian phrase for ‘love of fate.’ Of course for him ‘love of fate’ could never be a fatalistic resigned acceptance of all that is predestined. For him it was about finding ‘the beautiful in the necessary.’ To love ones fate is learning to love what is thrown at you, a proactive rather than a reactive response; to see life events not just as setbacks or issues, but just as they are with no judgements, no misconceptions; about finding life’s hidden rhythm and using that for strength as you dance through life.
Amor Fati…love your fate for it is your life!