Today we think of serendipity as something like dumb luck. But its original meaning was very different.
In 1754, a belle-lettrist named Horace Walpole retreated to a desk in his gaudy castle in Twickenham, in southwest London, and penned a letter. Walpole had been entranced by a Persian fairy tale about three princes from the Isle of Serendip who possess superpowers of observation. In his letter, Walpole suggested that this old tale contained a crucial idea about human genius: “As their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” And he proposed a new word — “serendipity” — to describe this princely talent for detective work. At its birth, serendipity meant a skill rather than a random stroke of good fortune.
When I originally stumbled upon the idea of serendipity, I thought I had found the answer to where magic comes from: simple random luck! Oh how divine I thought, luck is the disguise that magic takes.
Little did I know that I could actually choose to stumble upon magic.
Yes- I believe in magic, I always have. But where the magic comes from has always been the real question for me.
When I thought magic originated from random strokes of good fortune, I didn’t have any control over when I would get to experience this ‘magic’.
But the origin of the word ‘serendipity’ enlightened me with another perspective; it placed the ability to find and experience magic back into the hands of the practitioner… implying anybody can engage in serendipity and by definition become a ‘serendipiter.’
This is an absolutely revolutionizing perspective. To be a ‘serendipiter’ implies that the magic that I experience actually originates from my observation and engagement of events; it becomes my choice.
With this new perspective, serendipity– as an idea went from ‘something that happens and I experience’ to a choice.
It became a choice to engage in life, to observe everything around me, to question, to discover, to wander and often this has led to enlightenment. And just like that serendipity became something that I could do. And the magic? Oh the magic multiplied; I now experience magic in every nook and crevice I peer into.
My inspiration to synthesize this piece came from the article: How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity by Pagan Kennedy