If you watch movies you would have heard of the term serendipity, as it’s the screen title of a 2001 American film, starring Kate Beckinsale and John Corbett. But if you don’t, serendipity is the (unlikely) occurrence and development of events by chance, in a surprisingly beneficial way. Think about this. Every morning, there is a chance that you could wake up to something new or something different. Something that can change you and make you believe that life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents and coincidences. But rather, it’s a tapestry of events that culminate based on universal principles and ‘truths’ that are relevant at the time.
So say you were once neigbours with a woman you knew was being physically abused by her husband. There was constant noise and violence, police intervention and children wanting to seek shelter in the comfort of your home. On other days, the comfort was found in taking your pet husky for long walks to the park. I know, it’s heartbreaking. But before you can even think about how to help, life takes you in a different direction and you move on. But somehow, you have so many unanswered questions.
Had I known that serendipity was something I would come to know so personally through my travels, I would have told you that it is indeed a traveler’s strongest ally. I would have also told you that it has the power to answer questions that have been unsolved within you, for so long.
So I’ve just come back from yet another one of our travel adventures, and on one of our nights out, we visited a local dinner spot called Zanzibar. Naturally, because of my mum’s heritage, I’m immediately drawn. A pleasant meal, a few drinks and more than a few laughs later, we get talking with the other patrons. What starts out as a mediocre evening, ends up in an incredible tour of the city by our rather enthusiastic hosts (the couple we’ve also just met at the restaurant). In fact, we have such a great night out that we agree to catch up the next day and lunch with the lovely couple’s daughter. She’s apparently just spent the entire weekend at a friend’s place. Anyway, it’s about late afternoon the following day, and we’re introduced to the couples daughter. Upon first glance, I feel like I recognize her from my past somewhere. She smiles, but behind it, I see a distressed face. Very much like one I’ve seen before. I spend most of the evening thinking, contemplating and trusting my instinct to guide me, so that I may place this face. Then it comes to me. She’s the girl next door. She’s the girl with the screaming face I recognize. The little girl, the same one who took my pet husky for walks and asked for a hug every odd Saturday.
This moment changed my life. In an extraordinary bit of serendipity, in another city (Durban), at a random restaurant, we ran into the very people we’d called the police on (numerous times), not to mention, having one of the best nights out I’ve had in a very long time!
Despite how mind-blowing this is, the encounter made me realize that if you’ve never experienced it yourself, you might not be familiar with the manipulation, fear, and danger experienced by those who have survived abuse and those who are currently living it. It made me come face to face with what the strength of a woman can do to save a family. It made me recognize the transformative power of pain, and if understood and nursed, how it can lead people to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, we all have stories of how people have wronged us and caused us pain, but although it’s not right, that doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. It taught me about compassion, struggle, and the resilience of the human spirit, even in the face of blazing adversity.
Most importantly, it taught me that sometimes it pays to be patient towards all that is unsolved in our hearts and minds, and to try to love the unanswered questions that linger- allowing them to unfold and unravel, when we are ready to confront them. Kind of like locked rooms or like books that for now, are written in some foreign tongue. It made me comfortable with not seeking answers immediately, as I may not be ready to live them. This encounter also allowed me to make a profound connection. That travel makes time for serendipity, and that serendipity, if you allow it – will gradually (and without you noticing) live alongside some distant day into the answers you seek.
As for the outfit, we shot this weekend at the Maboneng Precinct. I’m totally open to learning how to be a perky minimalist!
To conclude, someone once said to me that serendipity is like looking in a haystack for a needle, and then finding the farmers daughter – well in this case, the neighbours!
Yeah I’m always up for serendipitous encounters. But for now (like after every other good trip away), there’s nothing better than reminding yourself why you love the city you’ve come to call home. And for me, nothing says this better than watching a sunset – after a fantastic day out with friends at the Living Room – dancing to Latin and African favourites, whilst toasting to Ethiopian tea!
all in the vibrant city of gold.