Loving life’s imperfections for all eternity

Amor Fati. Seeing the forest for both the trees and the forest

Maybe it’s the way it sounds in Latin that makes me love this idea as much as I do, but those two words are in my opinion, one of Nietzsche’s most powerful ideas.

Amor Fati- a love of one’s fate

The idea of loving your life is deceptively simple. At first glance it seems to speak solely to the human desire to gain as much pleasure as possible. To exist in a perpetual state of happiness where you can fully appreciate the world around you and your place in it. This idea seems like the ultimate goal of human beings- to be happy and to love your circumstances.

This pursuit of happiness is why you hear stories about people making mid-career changes to something they really love. It’s why people decide to spontaneously travel and make themselves anew somewhere else, trying to chase after a love of life in a different environment.

All of these scenarios however, don’t truly capture the idea of Amor Fati that Nietzsche tries to propose. We as a society have glamorized what loving one’s life truly looks like. Hollywood paints it as hanging out of the side of your car window driving into the sunset with friends and a smile on your face.

But that’s not reality.

Life isn’t rosy and perfect all time and most of the time it doesn’t match up with that image. We aren’t happy all the time. Bad days, weeks, months even years happen. We struggle with mental and physical health, loss and just general unhappiness.

So if Amor Fati means to love one’s life and the criteria for loving one’s life is purely a measure of happiness, then is it even possible to experience Amor Fati? With the definition of Amor Fati described in the previous paragraph, we come to the conclusion that Amor Fati is impossible to implement in the real world.

What Nietzsche proposes is different though.

Amor Fati is in his words, “That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it…but love it.”

In other words, to love life exactly the way it is ie. messy, imperfect, with all of its good and its bad. It means to roll your whole life out as if it was a scroll, examine all of its high points and low points and at the end of it be able to fully embrace each all of it and its consequences, not choosing to change a thing because you understand its impact on your overall life.

Amor Fati truly means to love your life as is, without modification because you see the way the ups and downs along the road contributed to the final picture of a life that you love.

And I think that’s beautiful. In the past weeks that I’ve been diving into Nietzsche’s portrayal of life, this is something I’ve been reflecting on within my own life and my experiences.

There’s a peace that comes with knowing that the pain that you feel, the joy that you feel is not isolated. Take one event out of the picture and you could end up with an entirely different person. There’s a direct correlation between your experiences and who you are. At this time I’m satisfied with who I am/am becoming and the events that contributed to what have become core parts of my person. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Intentionally viewing things through Nietzsche’s understanding of Amor Fati makes it easier to accept hardships as they come rather than wallowing in the moment as well. It allows you to experience and feel things in the moment while still having a macro perspective on the event’s place in your life.

Simultaneously seeing the forest for the trees(and the forest)

We are always actively shifting pieces in our lives and we can’t predict what will add to the image of our lives. Being able to cherish every piece though is important and at its core is what Amor Fati is truly about.

Key Takeaways

  • Amor Fati means to love one’s fate
  • It doesn’t mean that you have to be happy all the time like Hollywood’s glamorized version of “loving life”
  • Nietzsche’s view of Amor Fati is simply accepting both the good and bad in our lives and learning to love it

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12th grade student, Activator at The Knowledge Society and Co-Founder of EC Urban Acres. Currently redefining equitable resident focused community development.