You don’t reach Serendib by plotting a course for it. You have to set out in good faith for elsewhere and lose your bearings …. serentipitiously – John Barth
Serendipity! I used this word not long ago when I was Rome with a friend. My friend is not a native English speaker but immediately grasped the lovely sound of the word and wanted to know more about it.
Where does it come from?
I recently read that ‘serendipity’ is on the list of top ten words most difficult to translate – and, it seems, for good reason as I discovered that afternoon in Rome. Apparently, it was first used by Horace Walpole in 1754 in a letter to a friend. He had discovered a Persian fairy tale – the Three Princes of Serendip – who were always making lucky discoveries – and so the word was coined and came into the English language.
Maybe now we are beginning to get a feel for what serendipity might be. I now describe it as a pleasant surprise or discovery, a happy accident and for true serendipity to come into your life, you must be willing to act on this discovery, maybe taking a detour in your day-to-day life and to see where serendipity takes you.
It’s a fabulous concept
I absolutely love the concept of serendipity. Of course, it involves spontaneity and risk but sometimes life feels stale and flat and a bit of impulsiveness is just what we need. It involves living in the moment and enjoying the adventure that is life.
When I was at one of the lowest points in my life, a dinner table conversation with an old friend in Athens took my life in a whole new direction. He threw out the question: “So what are you going to do now?” This really forced me to think.
I thought I might quite like to teach English as I liked words, I liked people and I liked travelling. The following day I went in search of some kind of course which might put me on track. First stop was at The British Council there in Athens. They had never run teacher training courses before but were about to start their first one. In short, I was accepted, did the course and never looked back. Serendipity took over again when it was time to leave the teaching aside and become a Creativity Developer – but that’s another story.
To give serendipity a chance in your life, why not try:
- Visiting places in your local area, parks, museums, cafes, or other places of interest
- Taking a different route to work one day
- Taking up a new hobby or at least getting an interest in something new
- Talking openly to friends about your hopes and dreams, your worries and nightmares
Opening the door to new experiences opens the door to serendipity. You can’t know who you might meet by taking a different journey to work, what you might learn or simply develop an interest in by having a walk in the park.
Unless you take the chance to discover what is out there waiting for you, life might remain a monotonous routine. I don’t like the idea of my life becoming a series of timetables, schedules or regular patterns, do you? Search out serendipity by expanding your world. The world will respond.
Email me if you have any serendipitous experiences that you would like to share with us all.