Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Inadvertent goodness

Yesterday I said that probably no one was interested in my philosophy of life and art. Lisa left a comment and said some of us are. So I'll share one of my philosophies. That is, some of the best things in life (and art) happen by accident. It behooves us to pay attention or we miss out.

Small happy accident: I put those glass pebbles into the candle cups with my little solar lights (see here) for the purpose of holding the lights in place. What I didn't anticipate was how lovely they would look at night with those little lights shining through them.

Bigger happy accidents have shaped my life. A chance encounter in an airport with an old friend of my mother sent me to inquire about a job she knew about. I got the job, which meant I moved to a new city where I met my future husband, and my future life. Marriage, children, grandchildren, good life, wonderful friends—all the result of a chance encounter. I'm thankful that I paid attention.

An old friend from high school and college, with political ambitions when I first knew him, is now, not a powerful politician, but a powerful force for good. The birth of a daughter with a disability led him to a career, using his education and intelligence and heart, advocating and innovating for the rights of disabled people. I'm sure he never planned that he would have a disabled child, but he was surely paying attention to what it meant when he did.

We once knew a guy who had his whole life planned out. On paper. In writing. Go to this college. Graduate with honors, Marry a specific kind of person. Have these children. Start in this kind of a job. Advance in this many years to this kind of job, and so on. We were all young at the time and I was impressed by his long-term plan, but it didn't include any happy accidents—or unhappy accidents. We've lost track of him, but last we heard he was divorced and a little off-course from the master plan.

So, this is it. A little of my philosophy. Embrace the happy accidents, the chance encounters the unexpected, inadvertent consequences. Pay attention. For me it has made all the difference.

"To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work."
~ Mary Oliver ~


  1. Yep, there's a lot to be said for going with the flow!

  2. If I knew at 21 what I would be doing today and where I would be, I would have laughed. You have to be able to flow down the river of life, hitting a few rapids and a few eddys. The best laid plans are always subject to change. I am going to the $ store to get some lights! I have ancient Mason jars that I think the pebbles and lights would look wonderful in. Thanks!

  3. Anonymous5:52 AM

    That is a good philosophy. You are a wise, as well as talented, woman. I love a good serendipity.

  4. Continue to share just these kinds of thoughts. Today's post has given me food for thought in thinking about my own life. Have I paid attention along the way?

    Could my life be different if I do learn to pay attention to the unexpected opportunities? I would like to think it will. Thank you, as always for giving me something to think about. Your writing is inspiring.

  5. Thank you Terri! I am a true believer in Happy Accidents! I think we need to pay close attentions to opportunities that cross our paths. You never know where it may take you! Have a great day.

  6. Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes we all get a little off course.

    The glass pebbles look really great. They will make for very peaceful feelings on summer evenings.

  7. Serendipity is what I love about my life. Much more than the plans.

  8. If we all made a list of what we were going to do our lives would be boring. We would not have the excitement of new things coming our way. Life is good or at least better than the alternative. LOL

  9. I totally believe in reading between the lines and looking a little to the left.

  10. Terry, I wholeheartedly agree and you said it so eloquently! I would add: when you pay attention, immediately act on your gut feelings--those "not thinking," "full steam ahead" moments have been some of the best for me! Keep sharing...it's great to be reminded of these things.

  11. Oh Terry, you're talking about synchronicity- my favorite subject! It's always there, all you have to do is be open to it and go where it leads. So far my journeys have only led to Good Things! AND now I know what I'm going to do with this jug of old sea glass! Thanks.