serendipity-unexpected

In life, things happen for reasons often unexplained or accidental. Take the discovery of penicillin, for example. Arguably one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century, it wasn’t exactly what Sir Alexander Fleming was looking for, yet, with some perseverance and intelligence, mixed with some luck, we have been combating infection everywhere.

We all have the potential to discover something totally unique through ingenuity and determination. Teflon was discovered by someone trying to make a new refrigerant, and 16 years later, some guy’s wife implored him to try some on a frying pan, and voila: Tefal was born. The microwave oven was discovered because a man’s chocolate bar melted in his pocket while walking by a radar tube at the labs of Raytheon. He then put a bowl of un-popped popcorn in front of the tube, and the rest is history. Of course, he also went on to have three children who looked like the kid in ‘Deliverance’, but I don’t know if that is a result of the radar tube, or just a coincidence.

Potato chips and chocolate chip cookies were also discovered by accident, much to my delight and chagrin. Popsicles were discovered by an 11 year old in San Francisco, on a night in 1905 which was unnaturally cold. The list is endless.

Silly putty was discovered when looking for a substitute for rubber. I love that one. LSD was discovered accidentally by Abby Hoffman. The planet Uranus was discovered by William Herschel, who accidentally thought it was a comet. Not so big a deal, but it has been the butt (pun intended) of many a joke for years.

In science, this is called ‘Serendipity’. Serendipity is “the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated”. Fortunate and unrelated. Two key words.

In our house, we have another name for serendipity….we call it the ‘Domino Effect’. Allow me to demonstrate. You have a headache. As you open the cupboard where the Tylenol is, 15 things fall out (including the empty Tylenol container). Today is the day, you exclaim, to clean out this cupboard!! Five hours later, you are on a ladder cleaning out the eaves trough.

How does this happen, you ask? It’s easy…while cleaning out the cupboard; you find a receipt you had been looking for since last year. Putting the receipt away in the proper place, you find your glasses that have been missing since June. You go to put them on, but they’re dirty. While cleaning them with Windex, you notice the kitchen window needs cleaning, and since the Windex is already out, you clean the window. After the window is done, you notice the deck needs to be cleaned a bit. So, while sweeping the deck, you notice the ladder leaning up against the deck needs to be put away. While carrying the ladder, you see the old bird nest you’ve been meaning to take down, and since you’ve got the ladder in your hands… that’s how you end up cleaning out the eaves trough.

Now, I didn’t intend to do these things, but if not for the headache, I wouldn’t have cleaned out something I really should have done months before. Plus, I found my glasses. Fortunate and unrelated. It’s all good. Never mind that I forgot to do the other chores I was supposed to do, and forgot to pick up the kids, and lost my keys, and missed out on a chance to win a cruise (according to the message on my answering machine). The eaves will now drain properly, and I can actually see them drain.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] Serendipity (billsmusings.net) […]

  2. the biggest moment of serendipity would be our meeting … and almost twenty five years later – still together — who would have thought …. xo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s