Serendipity: a question of chance?

images (1)I am frequently asked about the title of my blog: Serendipities of Life. Was my choice of title ‘serendipitous’ itself or was it entirely by design?

Anyone who has been following my ramblings for more than a few months, will understand that I have a certain inclination towards cycling.……some might say a personality-distorting addiction. But that’s me……..

Those of you who are, or have been teachers, will understand that the profession carries with it a few stresses and strains, not least when the examination season approaches in the summer term, reports have to be written on every subject for every pupil……..not to mention the frequent meetings, planning groups, policy discussions, lesson planning, homework marking, school trips and departmental outings that occur throughout the academic year………and then, of course, the core activity of teaching 30+ classes per week…….andserendipity-unexpected the list goes on.

Teachers all have their own coping mechanisms. What they do in their spare time is often a clear indicator of how they ‘disconnect’ from the mainstream of their professional lives. My principal coping mechanism was to climb on the bike at the end of the day, or sometimes as the sun was rising in the morning, and I would empty my mind through the rhythmic cadence of pedalling and the sight of the countryside streaming by on either side of me.

But much more than a mere coping mechanism, cycling became for me a true problem-solving venture. I am sure we’ve all had the experience of hammering away at a problem, spending hours over the imaginary ‘drawing board’, maybe losing hours of sleep in the process of finding the illusive solution……when all that was needed was the opportunity to distance ourselves from the problem and engage in something completely different.

whiskyCountless times I found myself breezing through the countryside, preoccupied only with the demands of the moment when, unexpectedly, the solution of a problem would pop into my mind, or the appropriate words for handling a tricky situation would come together, or I had the answer to a colleague’s question that had evaded me for a day or two.

Some would argue there is a scientific predictability to serendipity (a BBC radio programme recently explored such avenues), that the mechanisms can be put in place to find happy solutions in unexpected circumstances. I don’t take this line at all. The only certainty is that if you metaphorically sit on the couch throughout life, very little will happen to surprise you. On the other hand, if you get out there and metaphorically weave in and out of the traffic of life, tackling the hills and the head winds of the daily routine, taking the odd risk here and there (but without ‘jumping the lights’), you will find that a great deal will happen……..and much of it will be serendipitous.

May the winds of life be ever at your back!


About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on September 16, 2013, in Obscure links and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Love this one Frank: not that I think you answered the original question, how did you come to call your blog this lovely title! And what about the ? Whisky/whiskey? Bottle! Great find. Peace and love etc., Caroline N

    • Ha, ha….Caroline, some questions answer themselves……And no I don’t really think serendipity will be found at the bottom of a bottle of whiskey. But for some it may create many happy circumstances!

  2. electricbohemian

    Life happens that’s what I’ve found out, you can either go with it, or stand still and ignore it.. but if you do stand still and wonder why on earth nothing is happening then you can’;t complain about that! Nice post 🙂

  3. agree with what you say Frank, good stuff

  4. I can relate to your means of escape from the various tasks required of a teacher and cycling would certainly provide that escape. I agree also that nothing is to be gained by sitting on the couch, one needs to go out and enjoy life, not wait for it to come to you.

  5. If ya gotta have an addiction is there a better one? Sorry Mr English teacher but I suspect you will “get my drift”….

  6. that’s some drinks cabinet you’ve got there, Frank!

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