Posted by: joha5 | July 26, 2010

Savoring Serendipity: Seizing the Power of Chance

Have you ever sat down and contemplated the role that luck has played in your life?  My bet would be that luck has played a staggeringly large role in your life much like it has mine.  We operate on a daily basis under the guise of control and discipline yet – in reality – we are much more like pinballs bouncing around a machine than captains at the wheel. 

Luck has more to do with who we are than we care to think...

I prime myself for chance at every corner specifically because serendipity always seems to smile upon people who have a more relaxed approach to life.  I engage people in public, I rarely turn down an opportunity to have a new experience, and I always try to add as much variety into my day and the way that I approach life.  More often than not, my attitude ends up paying dividends in some form or another.  For example, my day is brightened over a short conversation on a stalled metro train, I learn something new from somebody who has a different perspective on life than I do, or my day totally is totally transformed by embarking on a slightly altered route than I anticipated taking. 

Although, I suppose in hindsight, everything that has happened in my life has an aura of serendipity to it.  What if I was born in a different country?  What if I didn’t meet that guy in elementary school?  What if I attended a different college?  Would I have moved to London for 6 years if I went to another school?  What if I never moved back here?  Would I be teaching Lego somewhere else now?  This is why I remain stoic about my future job opportunities.  I may not know specifically where I am going but I know who I am, what I enjoy, and I believe that I will get to where I need to be at the end.  Of course, whatever path I take will yield the same result and that is that everything will seem like it was ‘meant to be’ even though the truth is that my life could have been dramatically different just by making a handful of different choices, seizing on a few missed – or given – opportunities, and even if I had changed my approach to certain situations or people. 

Of course, I am looking at seizing on opportunity with rose-tinted glasses.  Not all opportunities taken turn into something amazing and great.  With successful opportunities come failed ones.  However, maintaining cognitive flexibility and a sense of resiliency through the good times and bad times keeps me stoic and primed for the next opportunity.  Personally, I would rather suffer the feeling of a chance failed than a chance not taken.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t wish things were ever different or that I am too proud to realize that not all of my decision’s were good ones.  It just means that I make a conscious decision to embrace my failure’s and my success equally.  Do I ever think back to the decision I made to return home to Washington, D.C. after living in London for so long?  All the time considering the global financial collapse occurred exactly 4 days after my arrival back home which rendered finding a decent job next to impossible.  I think it is fair to say that I have struggled here but what would my life have been like had I stayed in London in a job that I didn’t love?  Would I have left the job anyway?  Would I have been happy?  What opportunities would have presented themselves to me?  Life is too short to rehash every decision I have ever made – good or bad – and even thinking about the minutiae of ‘what could have been’ can be absolutely maddening.  While it may not have been the best decision I have ever made, it is not irreversible, my life isn’t awful because of it, and – perhaps most importantly – I learned from it immensely.   

I've been on the road for quite a bit and have yet to come across this intersection...but you can be sure that I will take this road when I do.

An opportunity may present itself today, tomorrow, or in a month from now.  One of those opportunities could change my life or perhaps none of them will have a lasting effect on me at all.  The whole thing about serendipity or luck is that you never know when it will come along.  All I know is that luck and serendipity can be more than just a random occurence or happenstance and that is great news for the regretful.  Even though some serendipitous opportunities may slip away from us, there are always new ones coming along.

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