The Creed of Serendipity
In Praise of Random Events


I believe in an accidental god —one who appears by chance, makes heaven and earth, and all that is, seen and unseen, and then says, “Oops, what I have I done?” 

I believe in chance, the only son of accidents, eternally begotten of happenstance, contained in everything, of one being with randomness.

A well-laid plan is all well and good, but serendipity, more often than not, determines the score.   For our advancement (or salvation) we provide intent.  It’s the only way to prepare ourselves for the random occurrences that dominate our lives.  You didn’t expect that to happen — did you? 

People who are fortunate enough to have chance go their way like to think of themselves as the gifted ones — as if only their effort provided the good fortune.  But an accidental god knows that the gifted ones were hit upside by chance.  Just like he/she was.

Oh, yeah, sure, we invent by intention, but we discover by surprise.  And it’s only with our eyes wide open that we can see our not-we-hoped-fors as blessings.   In fact, if we weren’t such control freaks, we might realize that our accidents may turn out to be more than we hoped for. 

Happy accidents require that the victim have a keen sense of pattern-recognition, intuition and an open mind.  Yet, some minds believe they’re always in control, pretending that chance plays no role.  “There but for the grace of God,” means nothing to them.   Instead, they’re locked down in a doctrine that preaches that all things happen by design to those who force the issue.   At worst, it’s the kind of thinking that creates madmen, dictators and accountants.  At best, it’s the face plant of Pee Wee Herman tumbling over his bike, crashing to the ground and saying, “I meant to do that.”

Bill Shakespeare once wrote, "All things are ready if our minds be so."  It took intention to write that, but serendipity to discover it.  He knew that happy accidents are with us always all around us.  Our contribution to the equation is be ready with intelligence, insight, and creativity.  That way we can recognize serendipity’s offering…. and use it to our advantage.

Rolling with chance is the way of the wise.  There’s a reason why people say, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.”  In the end, we’re often more fortunate when we find the unexpected.

— Nathan Callahan

First Broadcast August 5, 2011

© / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved


Broadcasting Fridays at 8:50 am from KUCI 88.9 fm Orange County, California