It is essential to have goals, targets, destinations – but how much richer our experience becomes when we allow ourselves to diverge from the plan, the familiar path, and allow serendipity to have her way with us.
Over the holidays I traveled to be with family – family that happens to live in Hawaii. I’ve been blessed with dozens of visits to Oahu over the years. And as it is a family visit more than tourist exploration, there are the paths that we follow repeatedly – home to beach, home to grocery, home to pool and tennis.
With the doubling of rental car prices for high season, my boyfriend and I opted to rent bicycles and take the occasional Uber to get around. Cycling is one of our favorite date-night modes of transportation, so it was perfect.
I’m always enthralled with the micro-view that cycling or walking provides. There is a landscape that is completely missed when traveling by car. From having a sense for just how hilly a road actually is (!) to inhaling the essence of the abundant scented flowers, my appreciation of my surroundings is so enhanced.
In our adventures, both my boyfriend and I love being spontaneous. We set out with a vague general direction and let our paths evolve. In Honolulu, while cycling to Chinatown we ended up being enthralled with the discovery of a downtown arts district with mural after mural on warehouse walls. Massive portraits and graphics found us repeatedly beckoning, “oh honey, check this out!”.
It is that allowing, that curiosity, that open-ness to the unfolding, that I consider one of my favorite gifts. Rather than freaking out when I get lost, I welcome it. I see it as an opportunity to learn, to discover things that I might never have seen under other circumstances.
It is this spirit of willingness that is essential for me to cultivate, not just on a bicycle trip, but in all of life. It is this willingness to take a detour on the way to a chosen destination that provides a richness of experience that I would have missed had I obliviously followed the known, familiar well worn path.
I find that is in those detours, that Spirit seems to have a better chance of getting our attention.
The delight, the inspiration provided by our open-eyed discovery, is not something that is easily planned. It is in the act of taking us by surprise, that that spark is often lit.
God is in the serendipity. Spirit has the chance to direct the path when we aren’t headed to our destination with blinders (or the radio) on. God has the opportunity to surprise and delight us when we least expect it when we set out for Point B, but are open to A1, A16, and A25f.
That worn groove just takes us more deeply into that worn groove. It creates a canyon with very high walls that are often difficult to see beyond. And it gets dark in there.
Routine is a part of our lives - perhaps an essential one. But what if, after we drive carpool tomorrow, we give ourselves an extra 5 minutes and listen to our internal GPS - the one that might say, turn left here – there is surprise and delight around the corner, waiting for you?
Take a left. Take a right. Stop on the road to pick up that bloom that fell to the sidewalk. In that instant you could find yourself standing back up to come face to face with the love of your life. Or the answer to your prayers. Or the aha that had been eluding you as you cruised on auto-pilot.
Better yet, have a feeling sense for where you want to end up at the conclusion of the day, the week or the year and put out your hand and say, “show me”. And then listen. And trust. Allow Serendipity to have her way with you.
It may take a bit more time than our familiar path or our pre-conceived notion, but in the end, we’ll get to our ultimate destination so much faster, with so much more depth of experience and with a great deal more joy.
Here’s to Serendipity and unfolding in the new year. What better holiday gift?