“Serendipity comes only through windows we leave open,” wrote Patty, a writer cyberfriend. “Even when—perhaps especially when—we are sure we closed them all, serendipity graces us with what we need.”
Well, now. I got run over by a truck load of serendipity the other day. I had the momentous epiphany. I answered the big question. I wrote a mantra to carry me through the rest of my life. Yes, sir, and serendipity brought all that to me when I was wishing my hour on the treadmill would miraculously travel at the speed of light rather than at the two-ticks-forward, one-tick-backwards pace the clock seemed to be moving. In fact, I am now so bewitched by Serendipity that I shall hereinafter capitalize the word.
In her short essay on Serendipity, the Patty says the word was inspired by a Persian fairy tale and was coined in 1794 by Horace Walpole. Its meaning, she continues, is “the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially when one is looking for something else entirely.” So, let’s start at the beginning. I wasn’t aware of leaving any windows open, because the temperature outside is barely above zero, so I figure she means windows of the heart and mind. Second, I certainly felt graced when Serendipity fell on me.
A couple nights ago I began reading a book called “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules.” It contains ten rules for being human. Now, normally this isn’t the kind of book I’d choose for reading just before turning off the bedside lamp. No, I’d keep my bleary eyes stuck on something by Michael Connolly or Patricia Cornwell or John Grisham. Maybe some Sue Grafton or Sue Henry or Dana Stabenow.
This time, in deference to my physical location at the moment, as well as curiosity about the title, I decided I would read one rule each night, and that way I could get though a whole book of inspirational reading without having to choke it down in one sitting. I should tell you that I am at Stillpoint in Halibut Cove. It’s a place created by artistic hearts and minds for “creative renewal.” I’m not staying at the lodge itself, but in the owners’ home, house-sitting and keeping Geri the cat company. But this whole place recharges one’s internal batteries like crazy. Maybe this is where Serendipity lives when she’s not slipping through open windows and gracing folks around world.
Anyway, Rule One in this little book is “You will receive a body.” Yep, I did. I haven’t exactly been friends with that short, wide thing that carries me around and makes me wear clothes that have obscenely large numbers on the little label that rubs the back of my neck, so I read further. “You may love it or hate it, but it will be yours for the duration of your life on Earth.” Great, just great. I almost put the book back on the shelf, but I thought that maybe I’d find some stellar advice along the lines of “broken cookies have no calories” or “anything you eat standing up at the kitchen sink doesn’t count.” No such luck.
Instead, there were words about acceptance, self-esteem and respect. Oh, yeah, and pleasure. Your body needs pleasure, it says. That piqued my curiosity. Eating milk chocolate pleasures my body immensely, but works at counter-purposes to the acceptance and self-esteem. The book went into some other ideas of pleasures, but I’m sticking to the subject at hand here. I’m still thinking about Rule One, and I suppose that’s one of the windows I left open for Serendipity.
Rule Two is “You will be presented with Lessons.” Oh, my word. My whole life has been a pop quiz, and I didn’t study for it. The reading for this rule was full of words like “openness” and “choice” and “fairness” and “grace.” The “openness” and “fairness” I think I passed. I’m sure I flunked “choice” (poor ones) and “grace.” I can’t really claim to have lived my life with grace, considering how many headaches and concussions I’ve had from falling on my head, both literally and metaphorically.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten in the book so far. The next rule, number Three, is “There are no mistakes. Only lessons.” I’ll read that one later.
So, anyway, there I was on the treadmill, listening to the television announcers, and I was walking, walking, walking, when Serendipity found an open window, despite the temperature. You see, it was Mardi Gras, the day of feasting before the fasting of Lent begins.
Another name for today is Fat Tuesday, said the lady on TV. And suddenly Serendipity placed before me and my muse a banquet, an epiphany, a mantra of acceptance and self-esteem: I’m not overweight; I’m in costume for Fat Tuesday.
Gotta love that Serendipity.