The Necessary Preconditions for Serendipity

Earlier this spring I found my way to Wouter Groeneveld, a Belgian polymath, via a post Ton made about a meetup they both attended.

On Wouter’s blog I read mention of his interest in fountain pens, an interest we share that was later reinforced by Ton purposefully connecting us based on it.

As one does in such situations, I invited Wouter to attend our monthly Pen Night on Zoom, and he generously agreed to do so, despite the time difference meaning our 7:00 p.m. start was midnight for him.

In addition to sharing his pen passion that night, Wouter also touched (because I asked) on his interest in bread baking, and this led to a small diversion where pizza was discussed.

The next day Wouter sent me a recommendation for the book American Pie by Peter Reinhart. Which, of course, I immediately ordered a copy of.

Tonight, as it happened, was our weekly pizza night. Finding myself without cheese, I made up my dough, set it to rest, and cycled over to Kent Street Market for some mozzarella. On the way there I remembered a voicemail from The Bookmark telling me to come in and pick up a book, so I diverted to fetch it.

The book? American Pie.

Which is how I ended up with ingredients for pizza, plus a book about pizza, in my bicycle carrier late this afternoon.

I had a session with my therapist yesterday, and we were talking about what I like to do. What I truly like to do, in my heart of hearts. I related to her my small story about finding Iona as an example of when I feel I am my truest self; the best description I can come up with for that activity is creating the necessary preconditions for serendipity, seeing what happens, and telling the story.

Meeting Wouter was an example of that. So was meeting my late friend Harold and visiting him in Thailand. And going to the Reboot conference. And spending the summer in Berlin. And organizing an unconference. And riding my bicycle to an early morning flight from the airport. Serendipity is how I’ve found every job I’ve ever had and every romance I’ve ever had. It’s how I ended up producing radio shows, and how I became a modern dance promoter.

We didn’t end up coming to any conclusions as to what might come next for me, my therapist and I, but I emerged convinced that serendipity is going to be the engine that takes me there, and likely a good part of the there itself.

To the extent that I lost my mojo in recent years, it was due those necessary preconditions not having a chance to develop: I was needed elsewhere, and happenstance was my enemy not my friend.

One of the gifts of having a blog that’s 22 years old, though, is that I’ve plenty of reminders of what those preconditions look like, and thus a helpful tool in making branching life decisions: “will doing this thing (that I am probably afraid to do) power the serendipity drive or not.”


Bevan's picture
Bevan on June 10, 2021 - 08:54 Permalink

That's a wonderful looking pie! have you experienced the joys of a well-seasoned pizza stone? We've been using one for over a decade and it makes world of difference in our crust.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 10, 2021 - 09:02 Permalink

Oh, yes, I inherited the pizza stone from Catherine and it’s a game-changer. 

Bevan's picture
Bevan on June 21, 2021 - 09:51 Permalink

That's wonderful. Depending on your stone, you may even be able to fit it on a BBQ, which is also fun.

John Dale 's picture
John Dale on June 10, 2021 - 12:32 Permalink

Very nice! Bread next.