Is it Serendipity, or Life?

Have you ever thought about how certain people entered your life?  Not why, but simply how. What event planted the seeds for that life-changing friendship? Partnership? Love?

The answer is often as mundane as, ‘I had no choice. We were forced to work together on a group project.’ Or as awkward as ‘We both really liked cats and were the only ones who had nothing better to do than spend lots of time perusing the shelter on a Friday night.’ (true testimony)

Not all of our lives are blessed to be as beautifully serendipitous as those good-looking stars who reached for a pair of gloves, brushed hands, locked eyes, and fell in love in that movie called- ah yes, Serendipity.

But when you think about it, many of our lives do follow a similar story line, albeit in a slower, slighter lamer way.

Take my week for example.  It’s been rather ordinary.  I went to work, exercised, ate, talked on the phone, slept.  Nothing worthy of writing to Hollywood about.

But returning to my original question: over the course of the week, who were some of the people I talked to and how did I meet them? Well, there’s the guy who I beat in a silly college debate competition and to this day, still can’t get over it.  Then, there’s this girl who I was in a college organization with. Also, a man I sat next to at a random tech talk last month. Such amazingly blah stories!

But wait. The real juice lies in the details and progression:

Person #1- we started our rocky relationship as debate opponents; he called me Shark, I called him Aardvark. Fast forward through 4 years of this awkward name-calling and we’re now joining forces as partners in crime on a collaborative digital project. The details are still being hashed out, but what’s crazy is that our original competitive relationship has turned into something collaborative. Even crazier, we no longer resort to ugly animal nicknames but actual names (never mind that they still aren’t our real ones; we work with aliases.) To think, we might end up co-founding something together…

Person #2- former college acquaintance, now NYC roommate and good friend. We were both part of a large organization in college, which means we were merely friends by association. We found each other in New York at similar points in our lives and as fate would have it, ended up living together.  We’re good for each other.  She’s a great cook, an artist, and an insightful conversationalist- she teaches me so much about the joy of fresh flavor. I already sense a heightened appreciation for beauty because of her. We both encourage creativity and do what it takes to find inspiration for weekly projects.  We also kick each other’s butts with Jillian Michaels so we keep each other in shape quite literally. I would have never guessed a year ago that we would be roommates, sharing deep conversations, and embarking on this New York journey together. I can only now marvel at how it was all in place to begin with…

Person #3- entrepreneur building an exciting iPhone app.  He handed me an independent consulting agreement today, which effectively gives me access to the startup life I originally set out to learn.    We met because I happened to sit next to him at a random Foursquare talk which I didn’t quite feel like going to, but for reasons I will never know (fate!) mustered motivation I didn’t know I had.  While waiting for the talk to start, we made idle chat.  After meeting, I casually followed up with him, sending him an email and a link to my blog, not really thinking much of it.  Two days later, he writes that he likes my writing style and offers me an opportunity to develop launch strategy for the product.  All based on a blog.  Life certainly does work in funny ways…

——————

The most interesting tales are tales of progression, the ones that start with a view of the life before, then lead up to the uncanny circumstances that made it all happen, and finally culminate in a surprising conclusion with a life significantly changed from the beginning. The central message: “look how it all began…”

These are the stories worth writing about. What’s more, we all have them.

Hollywood may glamorize the lives of others, but when you think about the little events in your own life, doesn’t it play out like a movie in and of itself? Maybe I’m just easily enthralled, but I don’t think I’m the only one who marvels at the slow and calm forces of chance. Serendipity doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly isn’t as monumental as what we see in the movies.  However, I find great awe and power in its normalcy.  When I look at my life now, I know that the people in it are playing a role far greater than I can imagine. But wonder – when exposed to everyday – can easily turn stale, routine. It is only by viewing each commonplace interaction as something with a larger purpose that your thinking shifts and you begin to witness opportunity. Then life’s true possibility is unveiled.

———-

I think the future calls for each of us to craft our own story. It’s already happening. People all over the world publish volumes about themselves every second- on blogs, Twitter, forums, Facebook.  I’m sure even private people marvel in the inner recesses of their souls at the way things happen in their lives.

We each have a story to tell.  Call me a narcissist, but I don’t think we’re far from a future where we are all movies stars. We’ve already been handed the lead roles. The question is, how do we craft an individual narrative that is real and compelling to ourselves?

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