Leaving Margin for Serendipity

We’re still in the shadow of the New Year Buzz, where folks are trying to get their lives organized around new goals and priorities. As I work on my goals, I find that I’m guilty of over scheduling every little thing that I want to do. As a result, I commit a costly error….leaving room for serendipity.

Serendipity is defined as “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. ‘a fortunate stroke of serendipity’ ” Sometimes life happens, and it happens in a good way. And the tricky part is recognizing when what seems like a random event or happening is something that is a worthwhile pursuit. We need priorities. We need to be steadfast in pursuing that of which we’ve predetermined is necessary to achieve what is most important to us. But we also need to recognize we can relax a bit and curiously play with those little extras that come our way.

You might make an acquaintance who becomes a dear friend, or maybe a lifelong partner. You might attend an event where you learn one little piece of info or an idea that changes the trajectory of your life. You might see something, read something, hear something that inspires that one piece of art that grows into the masterpiece that defines your career. Or, it could be something much more subtle, yet has extraordinary ramifications in your life years from now.

The idea is not so much playing, “What if?” in a positive way, (which can be similar to chasing rabbits, a time waster,) but learning to listen to your heart. That in itself is a skill that takes practice. That’s why silence and solitude are important in this day and age of the flurry of busy-ness. This why I have a daily practice of meditating and spending time in God’s word and prayer. It’s a kind of daily reset where I connect to my values, and tune in to the frequency of God’s promptings.

There is a kind of balance of learning when to say Yes, and when to say No. Derek Silvers has what he calls the “*Expletive*, Yeah!” test. He says no to a lot of stuff, most of the stuff that comes his way. But if he comes into something that makes him say *Expletive*, Yeah!….then he unapologetically pursues that option. (I am not suggesting you use the same vernacular.) The point is that if something instantly gives you that overwhelming sense of passion, and you can look at it through a lens of wisdom and evaluate it as worthwhile, then give it a go.

Sometimes it might take some inner wrestling to determine if it is pursuit worthy. I have an opportunity to see a favorite band in May, of which I did not plan for. This competes with a commitment to a friend. This is an integrity issue. Guess what? The unplanned for event loses. Although it will be awesome, and there is still a chance I could go if the opportunity still exists after my commitment to my friend is fulfilled, I’m not compromising my integrity for what seems like a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to see something pleasureable, but not necessarily life changing.

Sometimes it’s also an issue of having the time-space available to not only experience the serendipitous, but even to be aware of it. That’s why it’s good to have some unplanned or uncommitted chunks of time in your schedule. This is called margin. You need it not only to breathe, but to recharge. You also need it to have those moments to listen to that still, small Voice. It’s that Voice that once tuned in to, will help you discern whether to pursue the offerings of those other seemingly random moments.

Work hard at what you are pursuing. Have a mission and vision, and values to define what’s important. Take the time to chill and be aware of what’s going on. Take a look at what’s being offered. Curiously question and play with what’s there. Learn to say a wise yes and a wise no. And run with what happens. The wind might push your sails to interesting places.


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