Bicycles & Happenstance

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Last Saturday evening my husband and I took the long way home from our nephew’s birthday party. We drove through our old neighborhood and stopped at a favorite coffee shop where they just happened to be showing a world premiere of a movie about biking called, Inspired to Ride. Before the movie they screened several short films featuring all the amazing trails for biking and hiking in Richmond. I’ll be honest — my Paris trip didn’t entirely cure that gray winter disillusionment I wrote about a few weeks ago. These short films were a great reminder of all that is alive and wonderful about where I live.

The films also inspired us to get on our bikes and go for a ride on Sunday. While we were out, we ran into a friend and joined him on the patio at a local brewery. More and more of his friends and neighbors kept joining our party. I had met one of his friends last summer (also on a Sunday, at a brewery) and we had talked about my books. She enthusiastically told me she had read both novels and that I needed to write more. I’ve been busy with some non-actual-writing writer things recently. Her enthusiasm was just what I needed to inspire me to work harder at protecting my creative time and getting those next stories out into the world.

Earlier this year the intern working with me brought up a theory of career development that she studied called Planned Happenstance. It sounds totally contradictory– the idea of planning for chance, but in a nutshell it just means being open to opportunities and experiences that might influence the course of your life. (Click here for a full academic citation if you, like me, enjoy such things.) Ever since I became aware of it, I’ve noticed instances of it all around me. Sometimes exactly what you need in the moment comes from taking the long way home and pulling your dusty bike out of the garage.

I would love to hear about your planned happenstances in the comments below. If you’ve never commented before, take a chance! Maybe you’ll inspire a conversation that will be exactly what you need today …

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4 thoughts on “Bicycles & Happenstance”

  1. My biggest and most successful Planned Happenstance was July 2013 in Atlanta. I knew no one and had no idea what I was doing, but I was absolutely positive if I just put myself out there at the great big writers convention, then something would happen. I met you, Julia, Tracie, and Lashell, I ate meals with wonderful people I’d never met before, and I sat in on conversations that redirected my vision of my career. I could have gone and met no one, had nothing happen. But instead I happened to meet the people who changed my life. 🙂

    1. Great example! I used to tell my clients to prepare to meet Oprah in the elevator! You really do have to prepare for happenstance! Since she’s not on the air regularly, I use Ellen as my example now. But Oprah was synonymous with putting the spotlight on products and people. If you aren’t prepared with your elevator speech at all times, you will miss a great opportunity! Plus, if you don’t prepare for happenstance, then you won’t be able to handle the demand of a great coincidence! I’m a big believer, Mary Chris!

      1. marychrisescobar

        Yes! I love the idea of planning to met Oprah/Ellen. Planning for that helps with lots of other moments along the way. Being able to succinctly describe that I am a writer and what I write allows for that experience where I meet friends of friends who tell me a year later they read my books. Plus all those little moment are excellent prep for the “great coincidence.” Thanks for the comment!

    2. marychrisescobar

      Absolutely, Alexis! This is one of the biggest examples in my life as well. I was completely mentally prepared to engage in the conference (something that Laura from the comment above was instrumental in), even though I wasn’t sure exactly what would happen. Two years later and you and I are presenting at this same conference– I just gave myself goosebumps!

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