Stranded at the airport in a new country after a 14-hour journey with luggage misplaced is a situation clouded with an infinite degree of annoyance. But when a good Samaritan arrives on the scene to help you and when that individual eventually becomes your life partner with whom you share years of marital bliss, the dynamic changes. Years later, you perhaps thank your lucky stars for having been in that messy state of affairs. As much as it may sound like a scene from reel life, this is a story from real life, narrated by someone who has been happily married for the last 40 years and who looks forward to many more years of smiles and sunshine with her spouse.
Random occurrences can alter the course of one’s life in a way they might have least anticipated. And the outcome could be magically uplifting or appallingly discouraging.
My twenty-one-year old is a die-hard fan of Jason Statham. The actor’s stage combats and stunts neatly packaged in his action-thriller roles have totally floored my kid. Although I have never found that genre of movies appealing, I cannot help but listen about how Statham skillfully executes his moves and about the “awesome”, gritty English accent he possesses. Typecast as the anti-hero who triumphs against all odds, it was luck and chance that played a big role in placing the actor where he is today.
Statham would have perhaps made it to the Olympic scroll of honor because of his talent in and passion for diving, but destiny had other plans. After he embarked on a job as a salesman in the streets of London, an agent spotted him in a sports center and set him up with UK’s French Connection ad campaigns. That was just the beginning of what followed to carve his career as the promising action hero.
The power of fate is simply unfathomable, and who knows, even an unfortunate incident can dramatically change the course of events. Caught in a bar fight the night before, Mel Gibson had a mangled face when he met the director of the film where he sought a role. He was asked to audition for the role of a villain that would suit him the best. But when he came back in three weeks’ time, his handsome looks returned, and from being cast in a side role, he was picked as the titular protagonist in the dystopian action film Mad Max!
Necessity truly is the mother of invention. On a parallel level, it is intriguing how accidental happenings have also led to great inventions.
The pacemaker is one of the most blessed inventions in the field of medical science, and the idea was conceived through a sudden realization its inventor John Hopps had while doing research on hypothermia. While trying to restore body temperature through radio frequency heating, it occurred to him that artificial stimulation could help a heart pulsate again if it stopped beating because of cooling.
It is hard to believe that a melting chocolate is behind the invention of the microwave oven. While working with a magnetron in 1945, Percy Spencer, an engineer in the US company Raytheon, discovered that the candy in his pocket was melting because of the microwaves emitted in the area. The incident sparked an idea in his mind that there was indeed a way to speed up cooking, and so the microwave oven was created.
Can you even imagine the fast foodies minus the Coke and potato chips? Despite the fact that neither of the two items have health benefits, they rank high on the popularity chart.
In the summer of 1853, George Crum, a chef in a New York restaurant, was driven nuts by a customer who constantly complained that the fried potatoes were soggy and thick and sent them back to the waiter. To satisfy the irritating diner, Crum cut the potatoes into thin slices, fried them till they were as hard as rock and covered them in salt. To his surprise, the customer simply loved the snack. That was the stating point and thus was born one of the world’s most popular snacks.
Credited to John Pemberton, Coca-Cola has an interesting history. The pharmacist turned Civil War lieutenant colonel had become addicted to morphine in order to ease the pain of the wound inflicted on his chest. In an attempt to replace opium, he made a drink with wine and coco extract and sold it as “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca”. The drink was believed to cure headaches and nervous disorders. With Atlanta banning the sale of alcohol in 1885 and in an instance of accidentally mixing carbonated water with the base syrup, Pemberton happened to like the taste of the beverage and ended up selling it as a fountain drink rather than as a medicine. And so evolved Coca Cola, the biggest selling soft drink in history and one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
What can transpire from unintended, unplanned actions is indeed amazing and intrinsically unpredictable. Whether it is a bane or a blessing, the mosaic of human existence is inevitably punctuated by stochastic happenings that reshape the course of being. The power of chance events in determining outcomes is incredible, be it in our personal lives or the world at large. The sweat and toil, the relentless efforts by human beings have yielded brilliant innovations, but the narrative of human progress also abounds with stories of how tangible and intangible endowments have been bestowed upon us all because of that sudden, fortunate stroke of serendipity.