Sometimes I sit down to blog and have some deep philosophical matter to discuss. Other times, the subject is about simple pleasures. Today it is the latter.
One of my favorite words is serendipity. I read where the term originated in 1754, coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”
On our way home today, we had a serendipitous experience. We were driving the speed limit up a hill in the right “slower” lane of a highway, when the driver of a Volkswagen Bug, of all things, raced past at a high speed. Then we watched as he tried to pass another car on the right as the road narrowed to one lane. We’re used to seeing pickup trucks and SUVs speed past us around here, but I just never thought a little Bug would be a Hare to our Tortoise.
A few seconds later, a police car, lights flashing and siren blaring, headed down the highway in the same direction. As we turned onto our street, Ed commented that the police were after the Volkswagen. I, on the other hand, got the impression that their presence was unrelated, that maybe they had been called on an emergency somewhere. Within 30 seconds of this discussion, we both decided to turn our car around, go back to the highway, head south, and see if we could see that the police had pulled the Bug over.
We drove for a couple of miles in an area that we probably haven’t seen in years, and saw nary the police car or the Bug. We did, however, come upon a wonderful local smokehouse that we had read about but never visited. Their speciality was smoked salmon and other fish. We recognized a serendipity immediately! It was a half hour before closing time, so we strode into the store with an air of excited expectancy and bought the most heavenly piece of smoked trout I ever did taste, and that’s what we had for supper tonight.
If that car hadn’t been speeding - if the police hadn’t careened by - if we hadn’t turned around - I wouldn’t be blogging about smoked trout tonight. But it did, and they did, and we did.
Sometimes serendipity surfaces to produce great life-changing moments. You're in the right place at the right time; maybe you forgot to get your gloves, and the delay put you in a place to meet your future partner, or you happened to bump into a person on the subway who could transform your career - things like that. But most of the time, it is the small, fleeting serendipity - the one whose power maybe lies only in the simple pleasure of a succulent piece of smoked fish - that is one of life's little unexpected rewards. I've found that to experience and appreciate these serendipities is one way to truly live in the moment.