Many years ago I became aware of the word serendipity, I fell in love with it immediately because of it’s sound and spelling. This love was reinforced when I learned what it meant: ‘fortunate happenstance’. It had a spell of being in vogue but lately seems less so, actually vogue seems currently out of vogue in our weird world. Thing is, for something to be serendipitous we need to have an awareness of the world around us and this is ever harder with so much mediated through screens and ‘new media’.

Read a piece by Oliver Burkeman yesterday, lost touch with his writing of late as I read most of my Grauniad stuff on the line and we know how diverting and directive that is, and he wrote about an American, John Stilgoe:

I especially like the bit where he doesn’t give a schedule to his students on his ‘Art of Exploration’ courses and this causes his students some consternation as their minds are suddenly not constrained and channelled along programmed lines. So much of our current discourse, certainly political discourse, is so boringly predictable. When I taught the lessons I loved the best were the ones where the students were most engaged and took off on unplanned, unforeseen directions and we all went on little journeys with big smiles on our faces.

Now this didn’t just happen, but neither was it planned. Sadly the direction of much current education has gone along the planned route (perfect planning makes perfect bollocks) because we all have to be accounted and everything has to be measured. When I embarked on my teaching career I already had some beliefs, such as having an underpinning philosophy was way more important than fascistic discipline. I still remember an increasingly exasperated interviewer for a PGCE place eventually give up trying to get me to say discipline and finally ask “what about discipline?”

I soon learned that not having some element of structure and discipline was quite important and began to learn and incorporate such stuff. Since those far off halcyon days of teaching and the lamented Inner London Education Authority our public education system has become ever more constrained and narrow, it was hard work holding on to my beliefs and experiencing those occasionally wonderful lessons. But I always ‘noticed’: the students, their interactions with each other, with staff and with our environment, I always tried to be involved with our environment. Today is the vernal or spring equinox and it became one of our class rituals to celebrate such times of year so I have fond memories of such noticing.

“GET OUT NOW. Not just outside, but beyond the trap of the programmed electronic age so gently closing around so many people…. Go outside, move deliberately, then relax, slow down, look around. Do not jog. Do not run…. Instead pay attention to everything that abuts the rural road, the city street, the suburban boulevard. Walk. Stroll. Saunter. Ride a bike, and coast along a lot. Explore…. Abandon, even momentarily, the sleek modern technology that consumes so much time and money now…. Go outside and walk a bit, long enough to forget programming, long enough to take in and record new surroundings…. Flex the mind, a little at first, then a lot. Savor something special. Enjoy the best-kept secret around—the ordinary, everyday landscape that rewards any explorer, that touches any explorer with magic…all of it is free for the taking, for the taking in. Take it. take it in, take in more every weekend, every day, and quickly it becomes the theater that intrigues, relaxes, fascinates, seduces, and above all expands any mind focused on it. Outside lies utterly ordinary space open to any casual explorer willing to find the extraordinary. Outside lies unprogrammed awareness that at times becomes directed serendipity. Outside lies magic.”
John Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic

So, had a dental check up last week and when the dentist asked me whether I had any allergies, only nigel farage and ukip replied I, he burst out laughing and we had a great time, best dentist I’ve ever experienced.

Have continued to feel generally mellow with my latest acupuncture.

Bit sad about England losing to the Irish, but nowhere near as upset as I used to get, wonder why?




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