Creating Space for Serendipity to Take Place

*10 minute read*

What a week! I’ve moved into my new apartment and lived through a rollercoaster of high energy awesomeness which included a gig with my other band You in Reverse on Wednesday night and Laneway Festival on Friday. Tonight is my first chance to sit in silence in my new favourite contemplative space and reflect.

Lately the simple idea of ‘creating space’ has really resonated with me. One of my amazingly awesome friends Brodie learnt this concept in a powerful way late last year and her words have stuck with me ever since:

“Its amazing that when you remove something from your life that is no longer helpful or life-giving you create space for the universe to provide something life-giving and supportive to take its place.”

For Brodie, she needed to step away from a seemingly perfect, (to others) but life-taking job and she has since attracted all sorts of amazing career and life opportunities that she is just starting to explore (proud!).

When I first started my job at the Library it seemed that there wasn’t a day that went by that someone didn’t mention the word ‘serendipity’. I first heard it used to describe the way our collection of design books was presented (the librarians prefer the word ‘messy’).

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Image by Shantanu Starick

To be honest I didn’t really know what the word meant at the time! I later realised that people were suggesting that by laying out our books in a random way that we were creating a space where someone could be ‘serendipitously’ inspired by something that they hadn’t expected.

People would say how great it was that the library had ‘created a space’ where this kind of serendipity could ‘take place’.

You could say it was serendipitous that I encountered these comments back in late 2011 because they sparked my curiosity enough to explore the concept of serendipity further!

Some people might define serendipity as a ‘pleasant surprise’, but I believe its much more powerful and valuable to us to think of it as more than just a chance event.

I didn’t realise it at the time but during 2010 my life was a giant lesson in serendipity.

When my relationship with my ex-fiancee ended in late 2008 I began to question and give greater attention to many areas of my life and the things that weren’t working for me. By late 2009 one of those areas was my career.

To give some perspective, I went through primary school and high school at the top of the class and I was the dux of my high school in grade 12. Like many teenagers I was in no state to be making a decision on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life but like many teenagers by late high school that’s exactly what I was expected to do.

I chose a career in architecture based on sound advice from my Mum (it combined my experience in carpentry with the creativity I’d shown through music and art at school).

I went straight through uni, graduating with first class honours and then straight into architectural practice, sitting my architecture registration exams as soon as I could. It was all working out for me. I had five and ten year plans with my fiancee that included starting my own practice, having a family and settling down, getting a mortgage etc.

I knew no other way. It was the expected path. I remember having a moment back then when I was engaged, where I felt really relieved knowing that I didn’t have to worry about the future. It was all taken care of.

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I am incredibly grateful for the experience that practicing architecture has offered me, however in all honesty with our wedding called off and our relationship over, my plans to follow the expected path were no longer relevent. With nothing yet to replace the expected path, by 2009 I was exhausted and on the verge of an early mid-life crisis. I needed a change. I needed something massive. But I didn’t know what it was.

So I travelled.

I think travel is great! For so many reasons. Particularly for me, at times of uncertainty, where my gut is telling me I need something but I don’t exactly know what it is, travel has always offered a solution.

Travel puts us outside our comfort zones.

Travel allows us to experiment with different aspects of our identity in a relatively safe and non-judgemental environment (outside our everyday lives).

Travel opens us up to chance and possibility!

In April 2011 I took a sabbatical from my job at the biggest design firm in the world to travel. I’d planned to travel to Lappland and do a husky-drawn sled tour of northern Scandinavia (yep, early mid-life crisis!) and then travel on to Iceland to visit the Northern Lights.

During the first week of my trip, in Tokyo en route to Helsinki, chance irrevocably changed the course of my trip and my life.

The world’s most difficult to pronouce volcano Eyjafjallajokull (pronounced “Hey, ya fergot La Yogurt”) stranded me in Japan and destroyed my plans to travel to Scandinavia.

In a hostel in Tokyo I had to make one of the most important decisions of my life.

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I didn’t choose any of those options. I defied the expected paththe path that I had followed my whole life up until that point but was no longer serving me.

Instead, I consciously choose to follow chance, trust my instinct and live in the moment for four months. It was an experiment!

On a Wednesday night in April 2010 in a hostel in Tokyo I closed my eyes in front of a map of the world and let my finger land on Egypt.

Egypt?

I’d never contemplated travelling to Egypt but I immediately did a quick search for flights and with all airports to Europe shut, Egypt was a cheap option for adventure! I spent an incredible month travelling around Egypt which was the beginning of three particularly massive experiences that have changed my life:

  • On my last day in Cairo I got food poisoning after eating some home-cooked fish from a lovely family that invited me back to their village. I later learnt I had a parasite in my stomach (blastocystosis) that proved incredibly difficult to get rid of (awesome!). This lead me down a path of exploring natural medicine and really starting to care about my health. Through this experience I also developed one of the most cherished relationships in my life with an amazing craniosacral therapist Claire
  • I ended up spontaneously doing a residency in Madrid at a place called Medialab Prado. This experience completely opened my eyes to the world of digital culture and the boundless opportunities for me to explore my curiosity and passion for creativity and collaboration in my future career path
  • I was drugged and robbed $1500 in Istanbul. This experience has taught me to value my possessions and begin to accept my worthiness for prosperity and wealth

These were not experiences that I would have ever planned or chosen, but these were experiences that I needed.

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These experiences would never have taken place if I hadn’t stopped and consciously chosen to create a space in my life (four months, a sabbatical from my job, saving the money) for this serendipity to take place.

So here I am now and its just over two years since I stumbled on this amazing concept of ‘creating space’.

On Thursday after spending the whole day madly moving and unpacking into my new place, later in the night I had ten very awesome people join me to mark the first night here.

I’m a big fan of creating rituals to mark important moments, making them meaningful and memorable. My friends joined me for a meal in my new space which commenced with me saying a short meal prayer (which is a ritual of my Faith). I also invited everyone to acknowledge this as a future space to connect, share and empower each other.

We had an amazing night and as people were getting ready to leave, one of my awesome friends Mark thanked me for the invitation and said that he had “arrived in a space and was now leaving a place.”

To me, a place is a space that has become meaningful through memorable experience.

The space that I created during my 4 months of travel in 2010 has become a memorable place within the journey of my life.

I don’t know what kind of adventures lie ahead here, in what I will from now on refer to as The Place, but I know that I have opened myself and those connected to me to the potential for serendipity to take place; to get what we need and not just what we want.

So, I’m curious.

  • What can you remove from your life that is no longer serving you? What is one small thing that is life-taking or holding you back that you are ready to sacrifice?
  • What kind of possibilities would creating this space open up for your life?
  • Have you had an experience where you’ve created space in your life for something healthy and helpful?

Please continue to share and lets all be awesome together!

Christian.


 

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8 thoughts on “Creating Space for Serendipity to Take Place

  1. Christian, thanks for sharing these thoughts. I want to acknowledge your courage to show yourself in such a public forum and also for the way you write, it’s very clear and concise but conveys so much emotion and feeling. This concept has grown and grown for me. I find that in applying it not only to the intangible but also the tangible has opened my life for amazingingess to seep into places I didn’t expect. The combination of courage and surrender and also for me starting to open my eyes to see the gifts that perhaps aren’t always what I was first expecting. Looking forward to your next blog my friend!

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