Last night over a bottle or two of delicious red wine I was asked what I thought of coincidences. I had to pause and think because while I do believe that things happen that can lead up to events that can effect you, I also am a great believer in choice. However, I also believe in serendipity, not just because I love the way the word sounds and moves around in my mouth, but for its lovely meaning of “a fortunate accident” or “a happy surprise”.
Still faced with this conundrum niggling away at me I choose to look up what coincidence really means. It is derived from the Latin words cum (with, together) and incidere (to fall on, to happen). And in science coincidence is only use to to figure out whether things are related or not, not considered proof of causal affects but just a higher possibility. And statistically speaking coincidences are bound to happen, in a group of 23 or more people there is a more than 50% chance that two share the same birthday. This is not a coincidence, but a mathematical equitation.
Serendipity in comparison is quite a new-ish word. The first person to use the term in English was Horace Walpole in 1754 when he wrote to a friend about the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip. Funnily enough serendipity is also one of the ten hardest English words to translate … coincidence or just a happy accident?
Feeling a little smarter but not wiser I think when it comes to coincidences I will quote Albert Einstein from now on “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” or maybe I will follow writer Simon Van Booy and his “Coincidences mean you’re on the right path.”
But overall be it a coincidence or serendipity I had a lovely evening last night, enjoyed myself, laughed and had charming company. So hopefully I will fall upon another happy accident, or chosen event that mathematically will lead to a repeat.