The Psychosis Of Serendipity

Listen to some of our jabberwocky motivation gurus and you’ll be believing what they preach: “If you can dream it you can do it. You’re your own reality.”

No, no, fellas. You’re thinking of psychotics…!

But would it be too psychotic to propose an unscientific answer to Stephen Hawking’s search for the Theory-Of-Everything? It might begin with an expanded concept of the role of Serendipity in our everyday lives. Literally, Serendipity means bumping into good things by accident. But now lets expand that to bumping into all sorts of things by accident. When you do, you kinda get a theory-of-everything for what’s ever happened to you and to the people and nations around you.

Watch me.

If my Father had not bought a home in the community of Austin in Chicago in 1940…we would not have been in the local parish of St Angela…I would not have met a bumptious director of parish variety shows named Jean Lynch…if I hadn’t met Jean, I would never have known about her new Oak Park Playhouse theatre company…if I hadn’t joined this company I wouldn’t have met friends like Bob Newhart and Kim Novak…if I hadn’t met them, I wouldn’t have met Joan Cantello, the brown-eyed beauty I would someday marry…if I hadn’t married Joan. we would not have been gifted with three amazing children…and if they weren’t here, then all the lives they’ve touch would not have been so touched.

Well, you get the idea. An idea that applies to you as well.

Now If we expand this application to history, think all the remarkably serendipitous events that coincidentally triggered the rise and fall of so many civilizations and history-makers. Including the rise of ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and Israel…the conquests and impact of Rome…the Protestant Reformation…WWI….the Normandy Invasion…the atomic bomb….not to mention the election of virtually every president in American history. With more space we could recount the precise co-incidentals around which these epic events played out. Including the sudden storms, migraine headaches, missed messages, accidental revelations, and last-minute-skeletons that no one could have possibly predicted let alone planned.

OK, I’m not a Stephen Hawking. I’m certainly not a motivational guru. But I am experientially aware of just how little of our chaotic world — nature, economies, personalities — can be squeezed into any man-made plan. [As the ancient story has it, tell the gods your plans then listen to them laugh]. And so while I’m not suggesting we sit like a rock to be kicked down the road by Fate…I am suggesting we should be better prepared to expect a great many serendipitous kicks along the way. Which might help us roll with those kicks better than we have.

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  • “If I hadn't married Joan. we would not have been gifted with three amazing children...and if they weren't here, then all the lives they've touch would not have been so touched..” – The truth of your words overshadows the idea of purely blind chance Jack … The company kept and choices made are a key to the future for so many of us …
    While we have been watching autumn leaves skip by outside the 'view of this moment ' reveals that so much of this Geezer’s life is not 'happenstance' – it is not really unpredictable save for the odd impulsive/rash decision.... To this fellow it occurs that his 'blessings' have in some part been truly serendipitous yet still ‘shaped’ by the fortune of his 'place' of residence and how that affected his selection of activities …. We made certain turns … and went down certain roads as had Mr. Frost .... “and that has made all the difference”.
    I am overwhelmed by the knowledge that being on the 'sidelines' for 99.99% of "History" & "Events" has all been quite fortuitous for this Geezer …. Must go now …. We are called for a brunch of waffles & fruit …. And the aroma for fresh coffee beckons me to sit in the sunroom/breakfast area and contemplate the majesty of this magnificent fall Sunday with the woman who has enlivened me for nigh on forty-one years as we have wandered down this happy trail ….
    Good day to you sir – Much thanks for generously sharing these insights to our human condition as we move into another season in a variety of ways.

  • In reply to Geezer:

    Hmmmm, that autumnal breakfast smells so very good! And you're right to say "happenstance" is not quite the whole theory. We do get to make some important choices. Choices that bump some of the ways we keep bumping into surprises. Now we'll have to wait to see if Hawking comes up with something better

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