One second he was a stranger and the next he was a friend; it happened that quickly but could have easily never happened at all. When we first sent a message to The Society Hotel for accommodation, Aaron (formerly the media and collaborations correspondent) replied that he was interested in hosting us, but would be leaving his current position before we arrived. He connected us with the right people to make it happen and suggested we meet up anyway while we were in town. We knew we were going to like him when he responded to his own email correcting his grammatical error (*you’re).
One of the best ways to explain the meaning of the word serendipity is to look at its origin. It was first used in 1754 (264 years ago!) in a letter from Horace Walpole -- the writer credited for creating over 200 words, among them beefy, malaria, nuance, sombre, and souvenir. It’s said to be inspired by a Persian fairy tale: The Three Princes of Serendip (Serendip being an old word for Sri Lanka). In this story, the three heroes were always ‘making discoveries by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.
But serendipity is not what happens when you find a sock that you lost under the couch even though you were looking for something else. Rather it is that moment when you realize that although you started out on a path for different reasons, somehow it led you to where you wanted to be.
The night we were supposed to see Aaron, we were so tired that we said, ‘just one hour, and then we find a reason to go home.’ That plan quickly evaporated. We couldn’t have predicted that it would feel like we had known him for years and then spend hours deep in conversation, navigating our way through ideas and the night. We certainly couldn’t have known that the encounter would lead to adventures months later.
Serendipity is a moment of clarity when you discover that you’re where you need to be, and sometimes the only way to get there is by allowing yourself to be guided by an internal nudge to do something you might not normally...like meeting up with a complete stranger in a strange city.