I subscribe to the excellent Brain Pickings. This week’s newsletter carries a hugely interesting article on a piece by Susan Orlean on the strange serendipities that shape our lives. As someone who has first hand experience of these, the article resonated with me. In particular, this quotation, referring to a moment in Orlean’s life when she came across a four leaf clover pressed between the pages of a book that had belonged to her grandmother:
That moment, with my inherited dictionary, was the first time I really took stock of the strange serendipity that life is, the near misses and the surprise encounters and the accidents that make up who we are and what we know. My life wasn’t changed dramatically by finding that clover. I didn’t find, say, a lottery ticket, or a priceless diamond she had tucked away for a rainy day. What I found was something both awe-inspiring and slightly disconcerting — the idea that life is a bit of a wild animal that will not be tamed or managed. Or maybe life isn’t really like a wild animal. Maybe it’s a maze, full of turns taken and not taken, and you will never know what would have happened if you chose one rather than the other way to go. You only have what you did choose.