Head of Positive Education, Mr Grant McKibbin's shares his insights in his fortnightly wellbeing column 'Go Well'. His latest piece, looks into fortune and our ability to deal with the highs and lows around the corner:
Go Well #39: Spring is Coming
Well, after years of putting it off I have finally started to watch Game of Thrones. I figured that we are in for the long haul, and while I look out the window and see that spring is on its way, every episode reminds me that ‘Winter is Coming’. Sigh. Something else is always around the corner, and while the ‘winter’ may be both literal and metaphorical, it does speak of the Wheel of Fortune.
The Wheel of Fortune, or Rota Fortunae, is a concept in medieval and ancient philosophy referring to the capricious nature of Fate. The wheel belongs to the goddess Fortuna, who spins it at random, changing the positions of those on the wheel - some suffer great misfortune, others gain windfalls. Boethius, the 6th century writer and philosopher wrote in The Consolation of Philosophy “I know how Fortune is ever most friendly and alluring to those whom she strives to deceive, until she overwhelms them with grief beyond bearing, by deserting them when least expected … Are you trying to stay the force of her turning wheel? Ah! dull-witted mortal, if Fortune begin to stay still, she is no longer Fortune.”
Fortune’s Wheel often turns up in medieval art, from manuscripts to the great Rose windows in many medieval cathedrals, which are based on the Wheel. Characteristically, it has four shelves, or stages of life, with four human figures, usually labeled on the left regnabo (I shall reign), on the top regno (I reign) and is usually crowned, descending on the right regnavi (I have reigned) and the lowly figure on the bottom is marked sum sine regno (I am without a kingdom).
The modern concept of luck - often pictured as the spin of a roulette or gameshow wheel is a development of the older idea. The original concept portends an inevitability in the way the various stages come about - urging us to be prepared for change, and place importance on those things less affected by this inevitability; character qualities, eulogy virtues, or one’s reputation.
Winter is always coming, in fiction and in fact. We should place the highest value on those qualities that we prize above all others, no matter how much we are shaken by the turn of the Wheel of Fortune. For now, patience is a good start.
Head of Positive Education