I try not to dwell on loss during my time on the island.
Too much time mixed with solitude and boredom can lead to bleak introspection if we’re not careful. It is better to celebrate what we have – the beautiful sky, the faithful pet, the song in our soul. But sometimes the absence creeps into our thoughts unbidden as we notice a gap in our lives.
One such absence that I’m suddenly aware of is serendipity. Serendipity is the chance and fortuitous finding of something that is important (usually in a good way). The word is derived from a Persian fairy tale about the three Princes of Serendip (probably what is now Sri Lanka) who were sent abroad by their father in search of fortune and happened mostly by luck on a host of adventures and success.
Serendipity is not only my favorite word; it is how I lead my professional life. Many of my stories, like candid snapshots, are based on the chance witnessing of a curious situation or an overheard phrase. Or sometimes the random juxtaposition of two unrelated experiences. Many of my most fruitful projects have come about from the unplanned overlap of interests and goals during an impromptu meeting with a new friend.
There is a dearth of chance meetings in this time of physical distancing. We cannot sit and watch the world pass by from a table in a coffee shop. We don’t run into people in stores or at mixers. The meetings we do attend are scripted – online experiences by invitation, now protected by passwords due to the idiocy of Zoom hacking (I mean, why?). And the online experience, as miraculous as it is, does not offer the chance for the casual in our Hollywood Square boxes.
The good news is that none of these losses are permanent. Lockdowns will end and the ability to get out and observe humankind will represent itself. This is a temporary absence, no more, although a keen one. In the meantime, I will force myself to more aware and mindful of the smaller world in which I am living. Who knows? Maybe the serendipity of learning to observe and be more mindful will lead to an even better appreciation of the random world.
[This Post was adapted from a essay originally published on Facebook the day listed above]