Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.
Serendipity sums up some events from this past week that I have been reflecting.
On Sunday, June 3rd, 2012, I was entered into the MidAmerican Canoe Race with my brother Mike. Mike and I were in the race the year before. Sunday morning we were pumped and ready to rock the river. The race started off amazing. I praised Mike for his speed and strength. He was doing great!
At the halfway mark, we had to port at the North Aurora dam. The canoe was very heavy. Mike had blisters on his hands and couldn't get a grasp on the canoe. I hoisted with all my strength and dragged it as far as I could. I was determined to get back to the river. The North Aurora Police Chief came to my aid and carried the back end of my canoe. I thanked him and Mike and I were back in the canoe on the river.
Mike's zeal had left him. He was tired. Mike had a brain tumor removed in 2000 and is still healing. It's changed him and I am simply grateful he's still with us. He gets distracted easily and I am careful not to over exert him. Mike was be-friending the cute girls in the canoe next to us (he's a very friendly fellow) and lost his balance. We tipped. Thankfully the water was shallow. I was frustrated. He was tired. My mom's house on the river was about a quarter mile down the river. Mike and I decided he would get out of the canoe at my mom's house. He did.
The canoe was full-size. I had a moment of "uh-oh.. how am I going to do this." It was momentary panic. I sat in the center of the canoe, Indian style. I felt like Pocahontas. I was slow and steady and moving in the right direction. I took slow breaths. I listened to the water as I paddled. The sun and wind were gentle. It was nice. Quiet. It felt spiritual.
As I came to the finish line, my mom stood on the bridge above me to surprise me, shouting my name and waving. My heart beamed. She was taking photos. I felt strong. I overcame an obstacle. It felt good. I made it to the end. I later learned that I had placed 97 out of 111 people. Given the circumstances of the day, I was pleased. The day had taken a big detour, and the end had made me feel like I had somehow grown as a person. It was my serendipity.
On Tuesday, June 5th, my son and I were going to take a walk to the river. Our neighbors; Brian Shellhart and his son Christopher came with. I had planned to take the boys (my son and Christopher) myself, but both boys were a little crabby so an extra adult was welcome. We sat on the rocks in the island in the river. It was a beautiful day.
We saw a young kayaker working his way down the river. Suddenly he flipped over and was trapped underneath his kayak. He was secured to his kayak and trying to flip himself and the kayak back over. He was struggling. It felt like forever. Brian jumped into the river to help the young kayaker. Brian swam and helped to flip him over. The two of them (heads above water) were whisked further down the river. Brian helped the boy to the river's edge. A small group clapped and the young boy thanked Brian many times.
Had Brian not come to the river with us, would I have been quick enough to jump in to rescue the boy? If I had jumped in, would my son and his small friend also jump in? Thankfully these what-if's never came to fruition. It was serendipity that Brian was there to save the boy.
Brian's phone was in his pocket. It was water-logged. We quickly took the phone apart to dry. By the next morning, there were 2 colored striped on the phone. It was gone. I decided to post the story and kindly request donations for Brian's new phone. It was minutes after I made the post that we received a generous donation. $45.
I went to tell Brian the good news and discovered that his phone was working. He had just put it together and by chance, it worked. This piece is serendipity, too. The pleasant surprise of the generous donation, coupled with the miraculous return of the phone. We removed the post and returned the donation to the kind soul who had made the donation. Thank you Kelly!
In 36 hours time, I witnessed 3 situations of serendipity. Sometimes plans don't pan out the way you plan them to be, but sometimes they unfold better than you could have imagined. Serendipity: the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.