by Sandy Cody
Do you have favorite words? I do. Serendipity (a seeming gift for making fortunate discoveries accidentally) is high on my list of darlings.
It comes from a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip, in which three princes are sent on a quest by their father and discover wonderful things for which they were not looking.
I only learned recently about the fairy tale origin of the word and, when I did, I instantly thought of Albert Einstein's statement that “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.” He's right, of course. Not only will their imaginations take flight, they'll probably discover something they didn’t know they were looking for - and so will you.
Whatever its source, serendipity is an impressive word. Some words please because of the way they sound, others because of what they mean. Serendipity works on both counts. When you say it out loud, the five syllables produce a tripping sound, forcing the lips into a smile. It starts slow and then picks up speed until it tumbles out, like it’s rushing toward a happy surprise, which, of course, fits its meaning perfectly.
There are other words that mean almost the same thing - chance, fate, destiny, karma, fortune, coincidence, accident, kismet - but for my money, none of them quite measure up to serendipity.
Not only is it a great word, it’s an appealing concept, a reason to leave ourselves open to the unexpected, to pay attention to where life may be trying to take us. Who knows what wonderful things may be waiting to be discovered? History books are filled with examples of happy accidents.
I understand chocolate chip cookies were created by a serendipitous accident (thank you!), as was the discovery of penicillin (more thanks). The microwave oven was invented when Percy Spencer noticed that the microwaves from a radar set he was working on melted the candy bar in his pocket.
As for me, I met the love of my life when I cut an algebra class to go ice skating. How could I not appreciate serendipity?
How about you? What serendipitous events have changed your life?