Serendipity in your life: Do you believe in it? 11



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One Saturday morning about four years ago I was feeling rather glum. I went out rather unwillingly with my daughter to look at garage sales. Usually when I see a garage sale sign I have a perceptible quickening of my heart beat. What bargains would lie there hidden under bobbly nylon sheets, dried up agaves and matted baby cardigans? This morning however I was nonchalant and uninspired. The array looked rather dull. I picked up a rather thick paperback, and the boy who was selling it along with his Engineering Uni text books said “that is an amazing book”. Taking him at his word, and because it was only one dollar, I bought it. It was called “Ghostwritten” and was the first novel of a young writer called David Mitchell. I took it home and started to read. From the first moment I was hooked. A whole ghostwritten new world opened up to me, and although that is an overworked cliche, I truly was hooked. The book involved half a dozen parallel journeys in time, all with a thread that finally linked the characters and events. Written in the magic realism style that I was also studying at University at that time, the book encompassed a flow of events that although mundane and ordinary, was also interspersed with moments of magic which seemed to be utterly believable. I searched for his other books, and when I was reading a sarcastic review about his work on the internet, I was offered one opinion that his work was a pale imitation of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami.

That is where the serendipity stepped in. One day I saw a book by Murakami for sale in a bookshop. It was also only a dollar and was called “The wind up bird chronicle” Once again I was swept into a new writing realm which was both compelling and absorbing. I was so inspired that I tried to adopt the genre in some of the writing assignments I was currently involved in. I found it a genre that flowed easily and was one that I loved writing.

My love affair with the two writers continued. I managed to track all of their books through Ebay, and went from each one to the next utterly astounded at the beauty and simplicity of their writing concepts.

The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia describes serendipity as “is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.” It can be the culmination of cosmic forces that bring two people together at one time and then they fall in love. Or, it can be bumping into a long lost friend on the busy streets of Sydney when you turn an unknown corner. Life without serendipity would be sterile and uninspiring. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find the treasures. Here I am being Pollyanna again, but it is true. Finding a Collette Dinnigan gown in the op shop for three dollars when you went in to look for a book, or a stunning Modigliani print at the Tender centre when you are being dragged around there against your will.

So, the moral of this post is: always stop and have a look at garage sales – you never know what treasure you might find and what doors that may open up for you.

What something serendipitous that’s happened in your life?

Karen Jones

Born in New Zealand, Karen now happily lives in the mid-north coast of New South Wales. She retired early due to ill health and now focuses on her love of walking, writing, reading and spending time with her grandchildren. With a degree in writing, Karen became a blogger and book reviewer for Starts at 60, which has enabled her passions to become enjoyable pastimes. Her recipe for bliss is a well made flat white, a friendly cat and a sea view.

  1. Serendipity is wonderful. Yes I agree with Karen. Often I find my serendipity at the public library. ‘We have a book that you will enjoy’ is the serendipitous thing for me!

  2. You know, I’ve never stopped at a garage sale. Perhaps I should start.

    1 REPLY
    • garage sales are great places for a friendly chat on a Saturday morning – after all, you’re typically visiting someone relaxed and comfortable at their home.

      When I lived in Canberra that was our main entertainment – that and getting high quality, e.g. German/Swiss kitchen ware for 1/10th of the new price – in as-new condition.

  3. Serendipity happened to me last week. My ex stole a good Villeroy and Boch dinner set of mine. I was in Lifeline checking out furniture for my son and spotted a V and B dinner setting only minus 2 cups and saucers for a very good price. Of course I bought it. Now that was Serendipity.!!!!

  4. well…this is timely. Two neighbours and I are holding garage sales on the Saturday of the long weekend – 13, 16 and 18 Rosella Grove Cowes. More details next week. Who knows? You might find your own serendipity. Come along and find out.

  5. Found a small heart shaped bottle of Blue Waltz perfume that I used to buy at the variety store when I was a little girl. Just enough perfume in the bottom so I could smell the fragrance. It was like a time machine that took me back to another time and place. Now if I could just find one of the small blue bottles of Evening In Paris.

    1 REPLY
    • It’s called Soir de Paris by Bourjois. I used to love it as it was my grandmother’s favourite.
      Google it and you will find it for sale at Perfumery, etc. Enjoy the memories!

  6. I often find serendipity around me- going shopping for one thing and in the corner spying something I’ve spent months looking for, accepting a book recommendation and finding my next favourite author. The secret is be open and if I just happen to pass a garage sale who knows what serendipitous purchase is waiting? Thanks for a lovely article Karen.

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