Serendipity. When the magic happens.

Serendipity. Being creative.

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

—Bob Ross

This statement could apply to things as varied as cooking or science or pregnancy.

What Bob is referring to is serendipity. I love that word.

Here’s the Merriam Webster definition of the word:

The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

According to Wikipedia:

Serendipity means an unplanned, fortuitous discovery.

Where did such a great word come from? Wikipedia states:

The term was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to his friend Horace Mann, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made about a (lost) painting of Bianca Cappello by Giorgio Vasari by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”.

The notion of serendipity is a common occurrence throughout the history of scientific innovation. Examples are Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin in 1928, the invention of the microwave oven by Percy Spencer in 1945, and the invention of the Post-it note by Spencer Silver in 1968.


i notice you have cheese. Being creative.

Now think about this: Who was the first person curious enough about the solidified yellow mass left in that cow’s stomach bota bag to take a bite and discover cheese?  That’s Serendipity! What would the world be like today without cheese? No cheeseburgers. No pizza. No grilled cheese sandwiches. No mac and cheese. No Brie, or Cheddar or Provolone. It would be a darker world indeed.


It shows up in art too.

“The more I draw and write, the more I realize that accidents are a necessary part of any creative act, much more so than logic or wisdom. Sometimes a mistake is the only way of arriving at an original concept, and the history of successful inventions is full of mishaps, serendipity and unintended results.”

—Shaun Tan

Sometimes you have to loosen up, take chances with your work and allow those fantastic boo-boos to happen. I appreciate when some error in a painting turns out to be a brilliant addition to it. The colors blend in a different way; the brush strokes work a special magic; the paint dries in an unexpected texture. There is that moment of wonder with wide eyes and open mouth, thinking “wow, how did that happen?” That’s serendipity.

Serendipity doesn’t show up very often, but if we wait patiently and allow for it to happen we will see it around us in our lives.

“In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts.”

—Peter McWilliams

That just makes serendipity more remarkable. Watch it show up for you when you least expect it.

(Bob Ross Fun Fact: Ross spent 20 years in the Air Force and rose to the rank of master sergeant. He held military positions that required him to be, in his own words, “tough” and “mean”, “the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you”. Ross decided that if he ever left the military, he would never yell or raise his voice again.)

Please like, share, comment and forward this post to anyone who might enjoy it. Thanks!


P.S: I’m once again calling on all Grammar Police and Spelling Wizards to comment on any errors or omissions you may find in any of my posts. It will help make me a better writer, give me a thicker skin and bring a bright smile to your face knowing you have once again rescued the english language from certain annihilation.

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