Serendipity was the name of a little odds and ends shop on the High Street of a place I used to visit from time to time. Full of knick-knacks of all sorts, I knew there'd always be something there I'd like. I've long forgotten the exact location of Serendipity but I do remember it stood proud amongst nondescript neighbours, painted a wonderful shade of light blue.
It wasn't just the shop I liked - I loved it's name and the rhythm and sound it made as you said it out loud. (The adjective - serendipitous - is perhaps even more musical). And then, having learnt what the word meant, I was sold.
Serendipity: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
I like how it encompasses elements of chance, beneficence, surprise and innocence whilst retaining space for a degree of influence. We can't create accidental discoveries per se but we can help shape situations so that they're more likely. Equally we can choose to do things that pretty much insulates us from serendipity's reach.
Serendipitously, I discovered last week that serendipity is one of the hardest English words to translate. And, indeed, the (usually) trusty Google Translate suffers like crazy. Apparently, it translates into Italian as serendipity; into French as serendipity; and into German as - yes, you've guessed it - serendipity. In Russian, it's интуитивная прозорливость - although I hazard a guess that's simply serendipity in the cyrilic alphabet...
And this photograph? It's an abstracted detail of part of a staircase at the Vatican Museum. I was working on it - having just processed some pictures of beautiful Birling Gap - and was in the mood for creating a ministract seascape. I was getting nowhere until my fingers slipped on the Lightroom crop control.
The second in a series of words about words