Happy International Serendipity Day!
Street Wisdom facilitator Philip Cowell suggests January 28th be considered the new worldwide anniversary of happy and unexpected discoveries.
Answers are everywhere – you just need to slow down and tune in to notice them. And not just notice them – enjoy them, listen to them, wonder what they’re about.
Though Street Wisdom has a rigorous, deliberate, well-tried-and-tested method, participants often experience the answers they discover serendipitously – as “happy, unexpected discoveries” (the definition of serendipity).
So when we’re on a Street Wisdom, we’re slowing down and tuning ourselves up to be more ready for serendipities: for that meaningful sign in a shop window, that evocative something overheard, that insightful conversation with a stranger.
To put it another way: Street Wisdom helps us practise our serendipity skills. It helps us become better serendipitists.
And it’s an interesting word – “serendipity” – with its joyful, rhythmic peaks and troughs, first put to paper 264 years ago on January 28th 1754 by the English writer Horace Walpole, who wrote it in a letter at his gothic manor house, Strawberry Hill, in London’s Twickenham.
So we really can call January 28th the international anniversary of serendipity.
The word itself was inspired by a fairy tale Walpole remembered from his childhood called The Three Princes of Serendip (Serendip being the old name for Sri Lanka), in which the three princes travel through the world “making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of which things they were not in quest of”. Note Walpole’s use of the word “quest” here – an important word in the Street Wisdom method too.
The Street Wisdom way, in a way, is to help people deliberately make more accidental discoveries. The Princes and Princesses that come through our Street Wisdoms every week are happily and unexpectedly finding answers everywhere. And the extra benefits they’re experiencing from slowing down, tuning into their senses, walking outside, solving problems creatively and connecting with other people are so vast, it’s no wonder Walpole had to invent a whole new word for it.
by Philip Cowell