The Beauty of Serendipity

Statue of Zeus in Greece

“The more I draw and write, the more I realize that accidents are a necessary part of any creative act, much more so than logic or wisdom. Sometimes a mistake is the only way of arriving at an original concept, and the history of successful inventions is full of mishaps, serendipity and unintended results.” ~ Shaun Tan

“Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.” ~ Roger C. Schank, Cognitive Scientist

“After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~ Philip Pullman

“I’ve always loved life, and I’ve never known what’s ahead. I love not knowing what might be round the corner. I love serendipity.” ~ Twiggy

In a way you could say serendipity is a happy accident. I was fortunate enough to have two happy accidents happen recently. 

I’m a big YouTube fan. There are so many inspirational videos that I check out almost every day. They have great music for meditation too.

One day this past week, out of the blue, a video titled, Finding Joe, came up in my feed. When I read the description, I was excited to find that it was a documentary about Joseph Campbell. Since we saw his discussions with Bill Moyers on PBS in The Power of Myth, many years ago, I’ve been a fan. 

So, I listened to my little voice and watched the video and discovered that it was a perfect introduction to storytelling that I can use in my dramatic structure class. In the video it tells how Joseph Campbell became interested in myth and how his interest led him to study myths from all over the globe. He found that they were similar in the messages they were designed to impart. The documentary also outlines how his work has influenced storytellers of all kinds, most particularly George Lucas, who Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myth was his very best student. His work also influenced spiritual teachers like Deepak Chopra. His theory of “The Hero’s Journey” can be applied to almost any story and our personal lives as well. 

At one point the creatives and spiritual teachers talk about how we are all on a hero’s journey and we can decided whether to stay stuck, or like Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Diana Prince, and Carol Danvers, leave our old worlds behind and venture into the unknown. The path will not be easy, but as we come out the other side, we’re stronger, more confident, and better able to navigate the next round of challenges because the hero’s journey doesn’t happen just once in our lives. We get to choose again and again whether we’ll continue to grow or not.

That got me thinking about my own life. I’ve been blessed with what I have always called, “my little voice.” It’s really more of an inner knowing that has helped me through lots of crossroad moments. I mean it’s scary when you feel like you’re about to jump off the edge of the world you’ve been living in. There’s no way of knowing if the leap will lead to a better place or if we’ll crash and burn.

Actually for me, the crash and burns happened when I tried to fit into the mold other people wanted me to put me in. And then as I have picked myself up, I realized that the crash was my friend. It was a wake up call.

Lately I’ve felt like I’m in a big transition from one phase of my life to the next phase. I’m impatient to move forward, and yet my little voice is telling me to stay put for awhile. In this case, I’m chomping at the bit to quit teaching, but I’m helping my friend Dave get established and ready to take my place. Right now he is only able to teach the performance class because of his many years working as a theatre professional. But soon he’ll have his Masters and I have to say, I’m looking forward to that day.

When I first started teaching theatre at the college, I was hoping to build a full-fledged theatre department. But I now realize that wasn’t my purpose. It was a stepping stone to other things for me, and I was a place holder for my friend Dave. 

Thursday night we had a convocation for the associate faculty prior to classes beginning on Monday. Dave is so excited about finishing his Masters program and teaching more classes at the college that he went to the convocation for the full-time faculty, the fine art department meeting, and then the evening convocation. We met about an hour and a half before the evening meeting and he is full of ideas to improve the theatre department. I was excited because he’s the one who has the energy and knowledge to make what I had envisioned come true. 

Maybe that’s what the Finding Joe video was all about for me. That sometimes we’re not the ones to accomplish the vision. We begin the process and someone else completes it. Then we move on to something that IS meant for us to do. We take what we’ve learned with us as we navigate life.

As I look back, I see that one step I’ve taken outside the box has led me from one thing to the next, to the next, and so on. It’s cumulative and now my little voice is telling me that the Story~Power podcast I started July 2020 is the culmination of all my study about storytelling. I may not come up with a world renowned theory like Joseph Campbell did, but I can spread the love of stories. And maybe one or more of my episodes will help someone at just the right time. Stories are, as Philip Pullman says in the above quote, one of the most important things for humans. We’re made to understand them as Roger C. Schank says. We connect with them for a vital reason. If we see other people who have the courage to step out of their comfort zones and move into the unknown, we are assured that we can too. Sometimes a story will give us the push we need, or give us hope that, if we have a dream, it can come true.

The second bit of serendipity happened in June, I got an invitation to join PodMatch, a kind of dating service for podcasters and guests. In general, I’m skeptical when I get solicitations via email. But again, my little voice told me to take the leap. It told me try it out! I’m so glad I listened. I’ve connected with enough guests to take me through the new year so far. And I’ve been invited to be a guest on someone’s podcast. It’s interesting how serendipity works. I’m grateful that someone at PodMatch saw that I had a podcast, or maybe even listened to it, and invited me. THANK YOU UNIVERSE! 

I hope you go watch Finding Joe. I found it to be quite inspirational. You can also find the documentary on Gaia TV if you don’t like YouTube.

Have a great weekend. As my dad used to say, “Nothing ever stays the same, so we might as well embrace the change.”

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2021

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Have you ever experienced life shattering events? Yeah, most of us have. In The Space Between Time, Jenna Holden gets slammed by her fiancé walking out, her mother’s untimely death, and losing her job all in one week. But she receives unexpected help when she finds her three-times great-grandmother’s journals and begins the adventure of a lifetime.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.

Lucinda is also the host of Story-Power a new podcast where she and her guests discuss the stories in all formats that have changed their lives. It’s available here on Sage Woman Chronicles and on Apple, Google, and Spotify podcast apps. Please rate and leave a review. It helps people find me.

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Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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