Bill-newby L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B

What a Day! - flowersToday went swimmingly! It was the confluence of a succession of tiny streams of beneficence upon which we were borne away unheeded.  It was providence exemplified!  The sun shone brilliantly, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen, we expiated our guilt this morning by taking a healthful bike ride, this afternoon we dipped into the Art Bank of Canada and cheerfully cultivated ourselves, a chance and happy recognizance was effected by family members without design or obligation and we have now retired to our restful digs to delight in the setting sun and the privilege of a slowly unfolding Saturday evening soothed by hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and the prospect of a satisfying home-cooked meal.

Good fortune is more than a fluke.  Recall the etymology of “serendipity”:

ORIGIN 1754: coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

There are so many elements which combine to effect the perfect day that it is difficult to imagine that it is not entirely an accident.  It would however destroy the magic of the sensation to deliberate at length upon the evolution of the result. It is sufficient to observe that like so many other events in life, the conclusion is a diversification of earlier adaptations.  Call it happenstance if you will though I contend it is more than mere coincidence (a subject promoted by another well-known author, Thomas Hardy, and I believe best reserved as a literary device).  It is no doubt part of the wonder of a brilliant day that we haven’t to connive or assemble anything to achieve its uninhibited manifestation.

The line between luck and brilliant discovery is never less clear than in the systematic study of the physical world:

The notion of serendipity is a common occurrence throughout the history of scientific innovation such as Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin in 1928 and the invention of the microwave oven by Percy Spencer in 1945.

Various thinkers discuss the role that luck can play in science. One aspect of Walpole’s original definition of serendipity, often missed in modern discussions of the word, is the need for an individual to be “sagacious” enough to link together apparently innocuous facts in order to come to a valuable conclusion. Indeed, the scientific method, and the scientists themselves, can be prepared in many other ways to harness luck and make discoveries.

By whatever process it arises, the mirth of a pleasant surprise is nonetheless gratifying. What elevates me is the rapture of the experience and perhaps my tainted maturity that the days shall come when “thou hast no pleasure in them”.  For now it is the paradox of an unexpectedly agreeable day that promotes it so favourably.  I feel a duty to luxuriate in the strength of the moment.  I confess it is my failing to wonder almost aloud when it will all end, how long it can go on before some other less appreciated event transpires to readjust the picture.  It speaks to the needless preoccupations from which we suffer to proclaim our ecstasy upon the sudden and unanticipated release from a nagging annoyance (usually some meticulous and essentially trivial detail which hardly merits anything but intellectual obsession). Yet be that as it may, we instantly discover ourselves uplifted by the formerly inconsequential blessings of nature.  All is well once again in the universe! The very planets have aligned as they should and there is seemingly nothing that can surpass the present state of improvement!