What is serendipity?

(This was a question asked by someone on LinkedIn, have posted my response below)

It was a dusty, moth-eaten fragment of a book. Its papers crumbled at the touch, one had to handle it like when holding a butterfly. I was fascinated by the occasional line drawings in its pages, the content was incomprehensible to my 11year old brain. I used to study in a school that was pathetic to say the least, I just had no clue.

Another 8 years or so later the book miraculously survived being thrown out as junk and I re-discovered it. It turned out to be the complete works of Lord Byron, or at least what was left of the complete works. And I read it end to end, thrice..without a break. The language, the thought and the expressiveness was like a miracle to me. Every turn of phrase was like a lightning that flashed across the ignorance of my mind and burnt itself within me. I have been a very different person since.

I have read lots more, learned that Byron is not the master of subtlety and been through much to be where I am now. But the presence and eventual discovery of that book has to be an act of providence, there is no other rational explanation that I can give myself. This to me is serendipity.

It is the realization that there is a vaster intelligence that guides our lives. To know that all the byways we have taken in the past had purpose, our falls, our failures included- that every little thing a limited human intelligence belittles has a purpose that exceeds its grasp. And that not all things in life are tainted by “the touch of tears”….

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  1. Several years back Daniel Pinchbeck’s book ‘Breaking Open the Head’ (re)introduced a related word – ‘Perhapsness’. Or simply put, who knows how many billions of unknown dimensions exist and seethe behind that billowing curtain…


  2. The American College Dictionary defines serendipity as the faculty of making desirable but unsought-for discoveries by accident. It is closely related to another word, synchronicity, which means meaningful coincidences that cannot be explained by cause and effect. Good musings.

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