Serendipity means ‘happy accidents’ – those times when something unexpected and wonderful happens and we get a pleasant surprise or make a fortunate discovery we weren’t even looking for - all the more enjoyable because they happen without any effort on our part.
One of these magical moments happened to me when I visited an exhibition of early European art at te Papa (‘Our Place’ – the museum and art gallery of New Zealand). I was supposed to go in the morning, but instead got caught up in trivialities clamouring for immediate attention. Consequently, I was almost too tired to be bothered trawling through the traffic and searching for a carpark on a hot and muggy holiday afternoon, but I’m glad I did.
Arriving a little hot and bothered, I almost walked into a large sign in the foyer with details of that day’s special activities. In just half an hour there was to be a free demonstration of renaissance and baroque dance, performed by a local early dance and music ensemble. Even before the recital began, I was completely enthralled by the lavish costumes – including sumptuous velvets and brocades in rich jewel-like colours – and impressed by the elegant bearing of the dancers, who managed to look completely at ease in the heavy materials despite the heat.
It was entrancing to listen to the lute music and watch the performers go through the movements of the different dances – the first set formal and quietly restrained, the sort that you would see at a ball or in an upper class setting and the second set more exuberant and increasingly lively, the type that ordinary people would engage in, in the fields or on the village green.
These moments of joyful serendipity are like an unanticipated gift or a blessing, and all we need to do is accept and appreciate them. Even though they aren’t something we were looking for, sometimes they seem like just what we need at the time. All that is required is to be open enough to recognise them and flexible enough to take the opportunities that come our way.
- What ‘happy accidents’ have you encountered
- How did they enrich your life?
- What can you do to be more open to life’s unexpected gifts?