Serendipity – an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
I’ve mentioned before that I spent some time in the Army. I’ve also mentioned that I didn’t enjoy my time with that organization. I’m not a very good “take-orders-without-being-told-why” kind of guy. But, I joined for the right reasons, I think.
I wanted to do my part after 9/11 happened.
I’m something of an idealist, and a patriot besides. I thought I could do some good in a uniform, even though I knew that the bureaucracy and organization of the army probably wouldn’t be a great fit. I figured I’d go through basic training and language school (I signed up to be a linguist) and then get shipped off to Afghanistan (Iraq wasn’t in the picture at the time). I thought I’d probably spend the next few years in the mountains, riding donkeys and getting shot at.
I certainly wasn’t enlisting to meet girls.
However, I ended up meeting my wife in basic training. I never did make it to Afghanistan (or Iraq). My best-laid-plans went awry pretty much the minute I stepped off the bus at Fort Jackson, SC.
My life (and pretty much everyone else’s that I know) is littered with discarded, recreated, or tossed-aside plans. It seems that as soon as you make up your mind to do something and how you’re going to do it, your plans have to change. That seems to be just the way life is.
However, every so often, you’ll find something you weren’t looking for when you’re pursuing something you are. I was just trying to do my part for America, you know? I don’t feel like I accomplished what I set out to do in the military, but I’m sure happy things worked out the way they did.
What about you? Have you ever experienced a serendipity? Pretty awesome, isn’t it?
By definition, you can’t go looking for a serendipity. It’s just something that happens when you’re not planning on it. However, I think you can make yourself open to them occurring.
1. You have to keep your eyes open to what’s going on around you. Just because you have a goal doesn’t mean you need tunnel vision. By blocking out everything not specifically related to your goal, you’re going to miss the special gifts that God/Providence/Life/Karma/Whatever-You-Happen-To-Call-It puts in your path.
2. You need to be flexible. Oftentimes, things not going the way you planned is a sign that something else is just around the corner. I’ve often heard this described as “God closing a door, but opening a window”. Even if you don’t believe that there’s a supernatural Power behind it, life has a way of working out like that.
3. Try to create serendipities for others. The best way to let good things happen to you is to first do great things for other people. Some of the best things that have happened in my life (like meeting my wife) have come from trying to do something from a purely altruistic standpoint.
Not every failed plan is going to result in something else totally unrelated happening to compensate you. However, just because you can’t rely on serendipity to happen, doesn’t mean you can’t be looking for it. Always try to see the good in every situation, even the ones that don’t look so great to you right now. You’ll be happy you did.
Everyone needs to hear about the great stuff that’s going on in other people’s lives. Share the greatest, craziest, or most random serendipity you’ve ever encountered with us in the comments…
Photo courtesy: SuperFantastic