“Serendipity will take you beyond the currents of what is familiar. Invite it. Watch for it. Allow it” ― Jeanne McElvaney
I know it’s strange to have a favorite word but I can’t help it, “Serendipity” has been my favorite word for as long as I can remember. Apart from its beautiful sound, the meaning of the word itself – “a fortunate accident” has left a mark on me. The idea that sometimes a random incident can make our lives more beautiful and meaningful made the entire meaning quite magical. Add to that the movie starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale which is one of my favorite rom coms and had made me fall in love with the word even more.
In the past few months, I have many times reflected on how much my life has changed from what it was just a few years back and how the seemingly random incidents have left their mark on me. I had been trying to assess what role I played and what circumstances had introduced me to the world of Spirituality, and I realized that the past year was not really as random as I thought it was.
Back in 2014, I went to a bookstore looking for a book that could help me divert my attention from what I thought was a life that had gone completely off-track. Instead of looking online for recommendations, I went to an aisle and started to browse through some books. My random browsing brought me to a book on psychology – “The Path Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck. Till this time, I had never read non-fiction and only had a stack of thrillers at home. In the past, whenever I had tried my hands on non-fiction, our shared journey had stopped before page 20. Thanks to my disconnect with emotions, psychology did not make sense to me either. I am not sure if it was the cover of the book or the name or just the summary but I ended up buying it.
This book and I have had a pretty amazing journey. I fell in love with the contents of this book after reading the very first page. However, I could never finish it. I remember reading some 80 pages of this classic before I gave it as a gift to my then-boyfriend. A few years later, I decided to get this book again just to have one of my best friends borrow it from me before I could go beyond page 80. The next copy I bought was borrowed by someone else but I can’t even remember who. By this point, I was intrigued. No matter how much I wanted to, I could never keep this book with myself long enough to finish reading it. Before coming to the US, I remember ordering it for the fourth time hoping to finish it on my 22 hour flight. However, I ended up losing this book before I could even catch my flight and decided to give up. I told myself that for whatever reason, this book was not meant to stay with me. While I was a big proponent of this book, I decided not to buy it for myself but gifted the book to two other friends who liked it just as much as I had. After 7 years of an on-and-off relationship, it finally made its way back into my life as a gift. And now it’s here to stay.
This book was my entry point into the world of psychology. Just those 80 pages of the book had inspired me enough to read more books on this subject and had helped me better understand myself and the people I interacted with. But there was more. This time when I read it, I found that the contents of this book were not just limited to psychology but had components of spirituality mixed in it too. I was surprised by how I had missed this every time I had attempted to give it a read. It might have been my limited exposure to spirituality that had made me oblivious to the depth of the content of this book but I realized that the random browsing had not just introduced me to psychology but also to the universe of spirituality.
My next serendipitous moment was back in 2018 when I again walked into a bookstore, searching for something related to psychology or spirituality. This time I went online and found “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I finished reading this book in less than 6 hours and was impressed by how the author had used simple everyday language to put across his ideas. Again, while I knew that I was reading a book on spirituality, I couldn’t get the spiritual aspect of the book. For me, the book talked about how humans behave and highlighted different ways that can help us better manage our day-to-day lives. It took me 2 years and another read to make sense of the spiritual components of the book. Today, I have 5 books on my bookshelf by the same author. My favorite is – “Mastery of Love“. It was only recently that I realized that the author is not just another author. He is a Shamanic teacher renowned across the world for his work on Shamanism.
In 2020, a friend introduced me to a meditation practice by Sadhguru (an Indian Spiritual Guru). The practice is called Isha Kriya and it became the first meditation that I could successfully do (Video: Isha Kriya). By this time, I had gotten quite comfortable with breathing exercises that helped me ground myself into my body but managing my millions of thoughts was a task that I couldn’t get a grip on. Isha Kriya helped me calm my mind down and helped me further my meditation practices. The same friend also told me about her brother who was a Spiritual teacher. I remember telling her that I wanted to meet him without really knowing why. Just talking about her brother had made me guess his sun sign which was surprising for both of us. Two years since that conversation and her brother became my Guide into the world of Shamanism.
From where I stand today, there was no single incident/person/situation that has brought me on this path of dwelling further into the cloverleaf of science, psychology, and spirituality. It was a series of events that continued to nudge me towards this path without me actively trying or even knowing where I was headed. Perhaps the role that I played was listening to myself and taking an action whenever the child in me wanted to try something new. The most significant nudge, for me, came in the form of a connection that made it too real to overlook anything that I have ever experienced. That’s the beauty of this Universe. It’s constantly working for us. At any time, I could have chosen to walk away from all of this without giving these incidents a second thought but somehow either the incidents kept happening or I kept going deeper into this world without realizing why.
What I have learned throughout this journey is that our path is determined by what we focus on. Whenever I read any of the books or spoke to people around me, my focus was to improve myself and increase my knowledge of what’s out there in the world. What started as a random stroll in a bookstore, led me into the world of psychology and introduced me to spirituality.
Serendipity is all around us. If we pause enough to look closer, there is a message hidden everywhere we go. What we do with our lives and how we choose to grow from there is up to us. We’re given multiple opportunities in our lifetime and what we do with those opportunities is our choice. We can choose to ignore them, delay taking an action, or go deeper. For me, the opportunities were pointing me to this path. For you, it might be different. Whatever it is that we decide to do determines what path we take but is not a reflection on us or our capabilities. It’s a choice that we make given the knowledge that we have at any given time of our lives. As we grow, we become more equipped with knowledge that can help guide us towards our goals and dreams. The opportunities never stop and neither does our growth. All we can do is continue to transform and enjoy how life unfolds.