Earlier today I asked Twitter for topic suggestions so I could write a random post tonight. I’ve been working a lot lately and just don’t carve out the time necessary to do what I do best – have conversations in my mind while I type. So I asked. And I received some pretty solid ideas. Surprisingly, there were even a few people who mistook me for a social media expert and wanted me to talk about that. However, rather than write tonight on topics about this medium, or on being in business, or on the advertising industry in general – I chose to write about serendipity

I know what you’re thinking – I’m copping out because anyone could write about nothing, right? How do you explain the significance of coincidences and the tiny moments that move in and out of your life like weather? 

You don’t. You just think about John Cusack, that’s what you do. And that’s why I jumped on this topic – to get that movie out of my head. I hate movies that are so screamingly obvious that they fail their own titles. 


But I digress.  

My first task before writing anything was to look up the definition of serendipity. I thought I knew what it meant, but wasn’t sure. I did remember it being something of an onomatopoeia though, and, well, it is a pretty word. I just never use it. Ever. And that’s tragic because when I did look it up – it occurred to me that I live my life serendipitously. In fact, my picture, not Cusack’s, was next to the word serendipitous in the dictionary. Of course I had to stop right there and consider whether it was serendipitous to actually make this realization. I decided that it was. Which reinforces my claim. Only, in retrospect, I’ve always thought of the way I go through life as the result of practicing faith and accepting fate – two ideas that you either get or you don’t. And I’m not here to explain those things tonight. Let’s just call them absolute prerequisites of serendipity, and move on. 

Serendipity is what happens when we’re balanced spiritually and emotionally so that we recognize random occurrences in life for being more than just random. When I looked up the movie Serendipity on IMDB just now, I saw that one of the film’s taglines did a great job of explaining it – “The love of your life could be in line for popcorn.” Isn’t this the kind of stuff we all want to believe? That random acts have the potential to change our lives forever?  

From recognizing my soul mate at first glance when I wasn’t looking (I know it’s cliché, but it’s true) to discovering my career path by taking a random copywriting course only because it was a chance to write outside of the barbed-wire rules of PR and Journalism – I’ve somehow learned to stop and recognize things for being more than just random. And the result is often serendipitous. After 17 years together, my wife believes in it now too. And our children are even learning to look for it in things. Maybe by the time they’re adults, they’ll have learned to manage the layers of crap that life piles on us to continue seeing the simple truth in the things that swirl around us – but that most people are too busy to notice. 

Maybe serendipity is just irony wrapped in coincidence. But I’m not buying it. 

RIP Cusack. Oh, and thanks Twitter. 


Jim Mitchem/@jmitchem


Never Underestimate Serendipity
How Have I Never Seen This Before?

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.