I’ve always found history quite interesting. Something I find especially intriguing is that something which happens in the present, can have an explanation in the past, and it may also have effects in the future. Take as example Serendipity. That’s probably a concept for which most of you need a moment to think about. But this concept is happening in the present, has an explanation in the past, and perhaps says something about the future. Let me explain:
The present: Imagine you are a nature photographer and you’re out to capture a rare bird. With high chance you encounter the rare Subalpine Warbler. Quickly, you pick up your camera and shoot a picture. When you take a look at the picture on your digital camera, you see that in the upper corner of the photo at exactly the same time that you took the picture, an Upland Sandpiper flew through the image and you captured it as well. This positive coincidence, that’s called serendipity.
Now the past: Once upon a time, say 1500 years ago, there lived a king in Serendip. This king had three sons, and he was very concerned about their education. He was afraid that they grew up too protected and that they would not have enough life experience to rule wisely in his stead. Therefore, the king sent his three sons on a trip so they could get some first-hand experience of real life.
During their journey through a neighboring country, the sons come across several clues from a camel, which they have never seen. For example, they saw along their path different footprints (including a trailing one), grass that has been eaten from and footprints of the rider. When the princes met a merchant a little later on, who has lost his camel, they can tell him in great detail precisely how the camel looks, thanks to the different clues they found along the way. Because of this, the merchant thinks that the three princes have stolen his camel. He brings them to the king of that country so that he can punish them. While the three sons explain to the king how they can describe the camel in such detail, a minister comes along and tells them that the missing camel is found. Instead of the expected punishment, the three princes receive, due to their wise interpretation of the evidence, a lot of money and a job as advisors to the king.
From this story, which probably happened around 420-440 AD in the Sassanid (Persian) Empire, the term Serendipity is derived. The three sons of the king, after all, came from Serendip, and that is the old name for Sri Lanka. Another fun fact…
Then back to the present: Through the princes’ story, we can also mention various serendipitous examples from our trip. I think if we would have an eye for it, serendipity often happens in life, but perhaps even more so if you’re traveling… Such as:
- While making a bus trip in Toronto with a talkative bus driver, she advises us to go to Tofino. Tofino is a place we have never heard of, and it was nowhere on our bucket list. Some Google minutes later the decision was made. You can see by the pictures in our Samples section that the tip was really worth it!
- While on a ferry ride meeting an older Italian couple, discovering that they are heading in the same direction as us and getting the offer to ride along. This resulted in a quick 3 hour drive in a car, instead of a 5 hour dull bus drive J
- Discovering that on exactly the same day, we would make exactly the same journey as friends from Wageningen (our home city) who happens to be in Canada. We can ride along with them for about 400 km and on the way we visit a beautiful canyon!
- After we spent a weekend with a nice couple, we were dropped off at the bus station by the husband and said goodbye. Less than ten minutes later, the wife came to the bus station with two delicious ice coffees and donuts from Tim Hortons. “I had an appointment next door anyway…”
- A day after we sent a lodging request to a church in Calgary we received the following email: “We are a retired couple living nearby the airport, you are most welcome in our house.” This was their entire email. Fantastic people, but quite brief!
And for the future: we hope that we may be blessed to report serendipities again. But even more we hope you that may experience many serendipities in the future as well. Be sure to let us know! We are most curious!
PS: It’s AM’s birthday today, cool huh?