Serendipity: Today’s Story

The word “serendipity” was coined by Horace Walpole in the 18th century. He said he formed it from a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip, in which the heroes were continually making happy discoveries by accident — and, Walpole added, by sagacity, the wisdom to recognize those accidental discoveries as significant and meaningful. The action of finding by serendipity is usually accompanied by a feeling of delight, because of its unexpectedness, and often gratitude, because it is, after all, a gift, not something one was searching for.

So I’ve been overwhelmed by the chaos of moving into our new home, the myriad details to be attended to, the coordinating of things that stubbornly refuse to be coordinated, the messiness of everyday life multiplied ten- and twentyfold. By turns I’m grumpy, anxious, stressed, wiped out — I could add a whole bunch more unpleasant emotions —and pressed for time, and preoccupied with detail, and — to sum it up — I was without a post for this blog, something that hasn’t happened since I began way back last summer. 

Then, in the course of today’s urgent errands back in the Berkshires, we popped into our favorite Lee library, where we found Pat and José, two of the special people who make it a place of gracious hospitality and welcome. I told that story in an earlier blog post here.

Well, today José told me how that post had appeared at a particularly opportune and important time for him, because of circumstances I had known nothing about.

And I said, Wow, what a coincidence!

And José said, Coincidence is a messenger sent by truth.

Another WOW, this time internal — because it just so happens that several blogs I follow have lately been about coincidence and randomness and accident —  and José’s definition was both different and provocative.  I said thanks for giving me a great quote for a post, and he said, Oh, but it isn’t my quote. It’s from a mystery writer called Jacqueline Winspear. Do you know her?

Would you believe the coincidence that she’s one of my favorite mystery writers? Yes, you would believe it. In this case, the wisdom about coincidence comes from the mouth of Maurice Blanche, psychiatrist/guru/mentor of young investigator Maisie Dodds, heroine of Winspear’s series set in post World War I England.

And that’s how my post came to me, and is brought to you — by a prince of Serendip.

Coincidence is a messenger sent by truth

This entry was posted in Desert, Quotes, Reading, Wisdom, Writers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Serendipity: Today’s Story

  1. eof737 says:

    Very interesting tidbit on the word serendipity. I love occasions when serendipity shows up in my life… love the word too. It makes me wonder about our thoughts and what we attract. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I enjoyed my visit here.


  2. Jen Payne says:

    Serendipity – each and every time – gives me goosebumps! It’s a wonderful gift. As is this post, and the reminder about magical things.


  3. Pauline says:

    Don’t you just love words like serendipity, synchronicity, coincidence? They are challenges to conventional thinking, letting us glimpse the inner workings of the world in conjunction with our minds. Maybe that’s why such concepts appeal to us… like the princes, we have to have the wisdom to recognize the significance of such events but they’re there even if we do not.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      “like the princes, we have to have the wisdom to recognize the significance of such events but they’re there even if we do not.”
      That’s the neatest part, it’s like wildflowers — you don’t have to do anything at all, the thing — flower, coincidence — is still there.
      But if you’re awake, AH! how the view improves, more focused, more detail. Wonderful.


  4. Rebekah says:

    What a pleasure, reading about serendipity. I’ve always loved the word itself. It nicely rolls off the tongue … just like oblivion, another of my favourite, English words 🙂


    • Touch2Touch says:

      You make me think about the sound of words as well as their meaning — doesn’t always go together —
      Interesting observation, Rebekah. Thanks.


      • Rebekah says:

        I love words … looking at them, taking in their meaning … the sound of them.

        In German, butterfly is Schmetterling. To me, that doesn’t sound very nice even though it’s such a beautiful thing.


        • Touch2Touch says:

          Laugh, laugh!

          You may inspire me to do a long projected post on the word butterfly— Butterflies are BEAUTIFUL, yes, and the word is so various in so many languages! What is it in Swedish, I might have written it down somewhere —


  5. Rebekah says:

    Yes, about the J. Easy for Swedes to have “jail” and Yale mixed up… 🙂


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Aha! Yes, it would be.
      BTW, I just tried the little Google gadget and I’m delighted! Fjaril even SOUNDS like how butterflies move, like waving — which is what it means in Swedish. SO NEAT.
      Try it, guys!


      • mercy says:

        Sometimes though words in another language sound nice, but turn out to mean quite the opposite. I had a French professor who made the language sound so beautiful that I thought every French word came off a poet’s own private dictionary, and in one of the early classes he was reading aloud and we came to the word “l’ane”, and I sighed and said, Such a beautiful word, for it sounded to me to mean “one’s soul”, and he smiled and said “Really? It actually means ‘donkey'”.


        • Touch2Touch says:

          That is a marvelous story, Mercy. And makes its point.
          How delicious words can sound — all apart from meaning. I remember quite a while ago when a faddish claim was made that the most beautiful word in the English language was —-
          It was pronounced quite deliberately, as if it were French, celleadore, with kind of a swooning sound —
          So there you are.


  6. Pseu says:

    Just popped over to have a read after your visit to my blog. Very interesting 🙂


  7. Mercy says:

    I’ve heard another version of CELLARDOOR –
    It was “SHUTTHEDOOR”, with the poor chambermaid to whom it was said, hearing “Je t’adore”!
    (Though, the DSK scandal has completely reversed that one, hasn’t it?)


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