Small Surprises and Serendipitous Moments

Yesterday, I was seized by serendipity. It was trivial, really, but oddly enjoyable. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been traveling through the Midwest visiting different universities. These visits are going well, and the novel experience of traveling alone for extended periods has been interesting to say the least, with blizzards and flurries to spice up the days. Of course, visiting these universities entails quite a bit of driving, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the opportunity for my mind to wander. Though yesterday, instead of wandering, it decided to overload, leaving me smiling incredulously at the open road.

Driving yesterday, I glanced at my odometer and noticed I was a couple dozen miles short of reaching the 100,000 mile marker. While this may seem an utterly unremarkable occasion, I’ve developed a sentimental attachment to my car, the places it’s taken me, and the time I’ve spend within it. 100,000 miles represented a personal journey; not simply physical, but emotional as well. It’s slightly embarrassing to admit, but I was excited; I even snapped some pictures of the odometer to preserve the moment. When the last “9” flickered and became a “0,” and the leading “1” popped into existence, the moment hit.

A quick note: serendipity is one of the most difficult words to translate, as the connotation of the word supplies more meaning than it’s literal definition, described as “a happy accident” or “pleasant surprise.” I’m using the term loosely here, considering I didn’t find anything inherently useful in this experience; rather, I found a moment of unsolicited joy.

Watching the odometer strike 100,000, trying to safely snap a quick picture, my ears filled with the jagged frequencies of a synthesizer smashing into the mix of my favorite driving song. With it’s muted and minimalistic introduction, “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem hadn’t even registered as my soundtrack for the moment, but as the odometer switched over, the song hit the 3:08 minute mark, my favorite mark, where, as one music reviewer noted, “[the song] jack[s] up the volume… sending anyone who had turned up the volume scrambling to dial it back down again.”

But dial it down I did not. Instead, I sat there, stupefied and enveloped by the walls of sound. Serendipity flashed across my brain, and I ruminated on the happy coincidence of my favorite driving song reaching my favorite section as my odometer reached 100,000. Like I said, trivial.

But for the next few minutes, as the song played out, I radiated happiness. Dazed by the random intersection of events, I beamed my smile. In the end, this pleasant surprise won’t inherently mean anything. There’s not really anything “to be gained.” But it felt like small victory, a symbol of the journeys traveled, and many more to come. And besides, what’s the harm in celebrating randomness anyway?

Michael Radke

Admissions Coordinator

michael@panrimo.com

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