Coincidence or Serendipity? January 28, 2009 20:04

I have had many experiences of great serendipitous synchronicity, or perhaps been the random participant in a number of extraordinary coincidences. But one event stands a glossy head and silky shoulder above all the others.
For the full understanding of the extremely unlikely nature of the following event, I must first bore you with a little background information. My Husband, daughter and myself moved to Sweden some years ago, leaving our flat in North London and all our lovely friends. We would return to London a couple of times a year, for business reasons and to visit friends. One particular occasion was special because we were bringing our newest family addition, Scarlett, to meet all our London friends and also different because, for the first time, we had decided to stay in a hotel. Now we were four, we thought it verging on cruelty to expect any of our friends to put us all up. So we stayed in a hotel in Earls Court, west London. Only because it was walking distance from the trade show I was in London to attend and it was easy to get to and from Heathrow Airport. This is not an area I ever used to visit for any reason when I lived in London and didn’t know it at all well.
I’d organised a get together for lots of our friends in a local pub. It was wonderful to catchup with my old buddies and show off my new cutie although sadly, there were some notable absences.
I had a great time hanging out there but around 8:30 we decided it was time to go and put the girls to bed. We started walking back to the hotel but decided to go into one of the big supermarkets for some provisions first. Whilst mulling over the relative merits of subtly different flavours of smoothie, my husband says ’Isn’t that Marie over there?’ I thought that’s not possible because she lives in New York. I looked up and even from the back she was instantly recognisable as one of my dearest friends who had moved to New York some while after I had moved to Sweden. Here we were, in the same huge supermarket, at the same time, in a part of town we had no connections with, in a city neither of us lived in, in a country neither of us lived in and she was staying in a hotel not two minutes walk from ours. She was in town on short notice for business and with a prepaid hotel room, she’d had no time to contact anyone yet and no idea we were in town also. She was only in the supermarket to get tissues for her cold.
Seeing her made me realise how much I cared for her, how special she was and how slack I’d been at staying in touch.
The difference between coincidence and serendipity is that as a coincidence all I could say would be ‘Wow! What are the chances of that?’ but as serendipity I can say ‘Wow! This is the universe reminding me of my dear friend in the most incredible way.’
In other words, coincidence doesn’t necessarily invite positive repercussions in the same way that serendipity does. So you can use either word, but I would rather live in a world of serendipity.