External Destiny Inflicted

“Every life is, more or less, a ruin among whose debris we have to discover what the person ought to have been. This obliges us to construct for ourselves — as the physicist constructs his models — an imaginary life of the individual, the graph of his successful life. Upon which we then distribute the jags (they are sometimes enormous) which external destiny inflicted. We all feel our real life to be a deformation—sometimes greater, sometimes less—of our possible life. The second problem is to weigh the subject’s fidelity to this unique destiny of his, to his possible life. This permits us to determine the degree of authenticity of his actual life.”

(from Ortega y Gasset, The Dehumanization of Art )