1. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
"a fortunate stroke of serendipity"
If by chance
My favourite word is “serendipity.” It’s one of those words that sounds like it means. It’s happy sounding. It trips off the tongue and begs me to bask in a set of favourable unexpected circumstances that essentially make my day. Sometimes, I turn the word into an adjective – “serendipitous,” which I think sounds even cooler, like fate is skipping stones into the pool of my life.
It’s hard not to like serendipity. It makes me think of the twists and turns in life, of the sheer connectedness of communities. It makes me think of people who enter my life gently and briefly, and who leave such an impression, even though I never know their names nor see them again.
Recently, @Grammarly asked the question “What is your favourite word?” on Twitter. I had to answer. My answer got 33 likes (trust me, this is a big deal for me – I’m a small-time Twitterer).
Last fall, I had a serendipitous encounter. As some of you know, late last April I left a well-paying job in communications, a “golden handcuff” job where the benefits and pension are so great it’s hard to leave, even if you’re unhappy. And I was not only unhappy, I could see the writing on the wall; my remaining time, should I have chosen to stay, would have adversely affected my mental health.
So, I followed my heart. I took a couple months off, then set out to freelance as a writer and editor under the Wordie brand. To do the things I love, but hadn’t done for a long time – not at work, and not in my spare time.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I threw caution to the wind. I knew the decision would have a large impact on my family’s standard of living. But it was a decision that had been calling me for a few years, at least. Circumstances at work had colluded to make the decision final.
In my efforts to feed my soul, I wrote in cafes. I read more. I reconnected with important people who fed my spirit. Last fall, I went to the Wild Writers’ Festival in Waterloo. I usually know a few people at community events and festivals. I’ve lived here a long time. I didn’t know many, but I did run into a friend who happens to be a real estate agent – the agent who has helped us buy, sell and buy the only two houses we’ve lived in in Kitchener (if you want a recommendation for a stellar agent who always keeps her client first, email me!).
She introduced me to someone she knew who is writing a non-fiction book, and who needed an editor. After introductions, and appropriate research to ensure I had the skills needed, that chance meeting landed me my first book editing job.
And this writer had also interviewed me for a job at a local magazine about a dozen years ago, when she was the magazine’s editor!
I know that encounter may not seem like much, but I can think of so many encounters – with random people who happen to know someone I know – that I’ve come to think of serendipity as a thread that runs through my life. That chance meeting at the festival, and the job it landed, gave me confidence that I’m on the write path (see what I did there?). All my work in the five months of Wordie last year came through my circle of contacts, my network. I had work quickly, and regularly, and although I’ve had a slow start to this year, I have landed two jobs from people who are not in my network. Not even remotely.
Serendipity contributes to confidence. It confirms pathways and choices for me. It reminds me that plans are great, but flexibility and even spontaneity are also necessary for filling up life. Or for making life full.
So, skip on, serendipity. I’d love to hear about your serendipitous encounters!