Persian legend has it that the Princes of Serendip left on a journey from their island home long before it became known as Ceylon or Sri Lanka. Many of their plans and hopes needed to be changed because of unforeseen circumstances or misadventure but they embraced these unexpected outcomes for whatever advantage or insight they provided. The 18th century English writer, Haratio Walpole, coined this positive response to what may have been considered negative occurrences as ‘serendipity’.
2020 may well be a year that we look back on as one of the most unexpected and unpredictable of our life’s journey. We have had to miss highly anticipated events, forego holiday plans, teach and learn ‘online’, revise our lifestyles to avoid potentially fatal infection and live without the personal warmth of human contact. Some of us have lost loved ones without being able to say farewell. Our days have become the poorer for a lack of hugs. The conversations we have had with our friends and colleagues have often been without the joy of seeing their smiles.
All of this has been outside of our control. Not part of our plans. There has been and remains very little we can do to change those circumstances. However, what we do have some ability to manage is our response. Adversity can be the source of great learning and character building. From the furnace of Covid-19 a spirit of determination has been forged by many who take a serendipitous approach to life. As we leave behind the year that has tested us so significantly, my hope is that the lessons learned about our personal and community character might make us all stronger as we enter the New Year with whatever it may have in store.
Whether in relatively insignificant aspects of our day or as a philosophical cornerstone of our lives, serendipity is something we can take hold of and encourage in others. Rather than dwelling on that which we have lost, choosing to celebrate the joy in that which we find.
MYP/DP Visual Art Teacher
Painting by Heesung Tae(G10)‘The Cellist’
A self-portrait inspired by the Cubist works of Picasso and Braque as part of the Grade 10 Visual Art unit 'Painting as Language'.