Serendipity Defined

Our lives are made up of amazing moments, chance encounters, and serendipitous occurrences, but we are not always astute enough to recognize them when they happen. But every once in awhile we are presented with a moment so spectacular in its profundity that we cannot help but be aware of the magnitude of the gift we have been given.
I had such an experience today.
It all started out pretty mundanely; ran a few miles, did a little grocery shopping, made a few stops…ho hum.
But when I returned home in the late afternoon I was greeted with a surprise. There above my house was a hot air balloon, apparently hovering. They are a common sight here, and I had been watching this one for the better part of an hour, as I traveled around town. It struck me that it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. I would find out later that there was no wind today. None. And since they pretty much depend on this natural phenomenon for their impetus it would explain the hovering nature of this one.
Cool, I thought, I will get to see some action on an otherwise boring Saturday. An experienced balloon chaser, I have learned to appreciate the aftermath of the flight. I like to watch them deflate the massive parachute, and it is fun to join in the camaraderie of the crew as they literally wrap things up.
So I quickly unlocked my door, and keys still dangling from the lock I ran through the house and out the back deck door to see that wonder of aeronautics fully inflated just across the street about fifty feet away on the grass adjacent to the pond. It was breathtaking.
It became obvious though that this crew was not in any great rush to clean up and move on. They seemed to be lingering, and I was feeling adventurous, so I approached them. They asked if I would like a ride, if I would like to climb aboard, and I gulped. I am terrified of heights, and yet, this has always been a dream of mine. Once I was assured that the tether was in place (wrapped around a rather burly looking man’s mid-section,) I agreed.
And in that moment when I placed my foot in the lift carved into the side of the basket and swung myself into it, I was both terrified to my core and ecstatic and incredulous all at once.
I was scared, I won’t lie, but I realized too that this was a magical, perhaps once in a lifetime moment, and I was grateful before we ever left the ground.
But oh, when we left the ground…
Imagine ascending, floating, silently and effortlessly, and inhaling instinctively as an overwhelming feeling of lightness overcomes you as you look out at the horizon, your home and your neighborhood and even the mountains in the distance and you realize that you are flying, and more importantly that you are fulfilling a childhood dream, one that until this moment, you were too terrified to even contemplate. But yet here you are, probably because you had no time to even give the whole experience any forethought.
Here you are…flying. You have, for the record, conquered your fear of heights, and more importantly you have put to rest the belief of all the naysayers that miracles don’t happen regularly. You can tell them that they are wrong and that sometimes they happen in your backyard on a Saturday in February, a month typically way too cold for such an adventure. Sometimes they come to you in the form of a middle-aged man in a parka with some time to kill on a windless overcast day.
Every second that I was up there I felt the amazingness of it all. I knew that I would remember those moments for the rest of my life.
After, when I was talking with the crew, they explained to me that the whole day was comprised of a series of highly unusual events: unseasonably warm weather, no wind, the fact that it was a Saturday, that they happened upon a piece of public land that was both scenic and unobstructed, thereby enabling them to land and offer rides free of charge to anyone who happened to stumble by. I was told that this day of ballooning was the result of an incredible series of fortuitous events, including my having been in the exact right place at the exact right time. 
I believe life is made up of amazing moments. I experienced some of them today, and I am pretty sure I will never be the same as a result. 
Quintesse Quintesse
51-55, F
35 Responses Feb 4, 2012

for me, life just is. temporal, with a series of possibilities.

I still cannot believe I did it after a lifetime of debilitating fear. All I can say is that although I was up about 200 feet it didn't feel high. It is because you look out instead of down and I never got that queasy feeling that I have gotten say, when I was 30 feet up on the roof cleaning the gutters...
This was mesmerizing and I found that I was not scared after I adjusted. And for some unknown reason I really trusted the parka guy.
I just thought of another good word: exhilarating.

Pepper. I knew you would relate to this.
It was awesome and people told me that I would want to go back up. But for a while I was content. Now however I am considering a real flight. I am terrified and they may in fact have to make an emergency landing --but I saw someone hang gliding yesterday by me and I couldn't look away...
Something in me wants to fly...
We'll see. Thanks.

Long ago, probably 20 years, a hot air balloon landed in our street that was on the way to become a industrial park.The trucking company where we live 1st floor was one of the first buildings here together with a body building center and two other companies.I took pictures because I never got so close to a hot air balloon. Back then I had my reflex cam. It's broken long since.

It is fun seeing them up close.

Thank you BlueMoon. I SO took advantage of this opportunity. I was also glad I took pictures to capture the moment. I loved every second of it. Thanks for looking at the pictures too. I never got around to posting then on the story.

I was terrified so it was exhilarating, finally finding a way to overcome my fear in a safe and controlled way. Not much time to think turned out to be the thing that worked for me. I knew it was a once in a lifetime chance--and I took it. My daughter still talks about it, about how proud was of me. It is cool. Thanks for getting that Soulrunher

Great opportunity and so great you took the chance! I love those quick moments where you push yourself to do something you have never done.

Sounds like a really awesome experience...and so close to, oh boy!...What a difference a day makes...if you stayed home that day, you may have never noticed it....haha!!....jb...

Thanks. It was really fun. I'd say memorable is the right word. Awesome and memorable. I hope you get to experience it someday too.

Thanks, perhaps one must be exhilarating to be high-in-the-air...with nothing underneath you holding you up...except beans!...jb...(whew!)...

I don't think I can go all the way up (For an hour!), at least, not alone. The baskets are ...flimsy. I have another story that refers to them as "death baskets" but that was before my little adventure.
It is a booming business around here, but I am pretty happy with what I got for now. I may try again someday. I hope you get to. That is about as romantic as it gets if you ask me. I chased one once and was there to congratulate a couple who had gotten engaged in the air. That was a fun day.

Thanks Mar. I loved this adventure. You know, it is May and I have not seen a balloon since that February day--which just proves how unique and amazing it was. The season will start soon, but well--it WAS really cool. Thanks for reading. PS--there are pictures of this day in my album.

Rowen, Thank you for reading and commenting, and for bringing me back to this story--I love this story. I love that this happened to me. My life is okay. I DO have adventures, and I don't take any of them for granted.

Wonderful story...your life has many chapters in a very interesting book..

It was exciting and wonderful. Thank you, and it was quite serendipitous as well. There are pictures in my album. It was a fun day for me.

Exciting and wonderful at the same time. Serendipity is such a nice word. I used to work in counseling center with the name Serendipity.

Theodora. Exactly!<br />
It was a spiritual experience for me.<br />
Now I want to do it again.<br />
Thank you.

SOAR, feel the wind as it lifts you ever so gently, higher and higher. Breathe deeply as you rise up ever so closer to Heaven. All you can see is your's reach out and grasp it.


Yeah, Cowboy, I remember.<br />
I could say "things are looking up" but that would be lame, so I won't.<br />
<br />
But they are.

Quint<br />
I am so happy that you had such an amzing opportunity. But if you remember a dusty gray haired old cowboy told you that 2012 was going to be your year.<br />
Now imagine what heights you will soar to in the coming months<br />
God Bless

Thanks Bookworm.<br />
I am feeling pretty alive these days. I could say that the balloon ride "lifted my spirits" but that would be lame, so I won't.<br />
<br />
But it did.

Just about the second I disembarked I was writing the story in my head. I couldn't wait to share it. Thanks so much. I hope you get to do it someday. It was exhilarating. <br />
<br />
Paco--Man, am I energized. You picked up on that, huh? haha

Beautiful Story. I feel so happy and Energized for you.

What an amazing adventure and a beautiful miracle for your day. I've always wanted to ride in on a hot air balloon to feel that sensation as it begins it silent climb up. Thank you for sharing such an amazing afternoon adventure with us.

Train--this is really nice, your quote-- and it sums it all up so well--<br />
"The spontaneous sweet adventures of life surely are they best surprises in the world."

I DO have a high going on over here. Thanks you guys. I think the Train guy hit on it. I totally stepped away from my comfort zone to even be able to flip myself into the (what I have referred to in past stories as the death basket). And then when he said "Ready?" I could still have climbed back out, but ..I didn't.<br />
I stayed put because I knew that what I was experiencing was really cool, and I felt safe with him (intuition, as someone here suggested.) But we had to have climbed about 300-400 feet I'm guessing? So it was no small thing for someone who is terrified to climb a 20-30ft ladder to clean the gutters. <br />
Plus it was breathtaking. Only one thing would have made it more amazing--to share it with someone I love. Next time.

Really excellent Q, beautifully told as usual. I can feel your excitement from here!

I was pretty happy, haha


What an amazing, ( in the true sense of the word) event. Childhood dream fulfilled, despite the fear. How powerful you must be feeling. This will be a magical moment in your mind, one you can take out and re-live any time you please. A miraculous, golden memory. One that may have the power to lift your mood for years to come. Let it be so.

It IS a miraculous golden memory! I love that. That's it--My miraculous golden memory. Perfect. Thank you.

To many of us, way to often, don't recognize the opportunities presented to us or if an opportunity arises, fall back into, "the way it's always been done in the past" and we forfeit the chance. Then after that chance is gone, there is the inevitable mantra of "woulda, shoulda, coulda".<br />
<br />
But when we do step outside of our comfort zone, when we do take that chance of that once in a lifetime opportunity presented to us, more often than not we come away with that feeling of "What just happened here?" It is indeed an exhilarating feeling, that we took that chance and lo and behold, actually survived, to remember forever, and remember exactly what we were doing at the time and place said experience was bestowed onto us. There are to few experiences like that, but then again, that's probably what makes them extra special. <br />
<br />
WOW!!! of your experience today. The spontaneous sweet adventures of life surely are they best surprises in the world.

Nicely written and well put


Thanks Jen! It may seem kind of lame, the tethered thing, but it wasn't, because it is a sensation that you cannot get from anything else. I mean, there is no amusement park ride for example, that can simulate the gentle ascension. Plus the fact that it was my home, my neighborhood, as opposed to a crowded fairground made it all the more special. We are both lucky.

Yes, we are... and being tethered can be quite cool.

Quintesse, that is awesome and amazing! I am so happy for you. This happened to me in a similar fashion one Saturday, about 32 years ago when a balloon landed in a field next to my house. It stayed for a couple hours. The crew took every kid in the neighborhood for a ride. It was a magnificent experience. Very similar to what you described I will never forget it but thanks for bringing it back so clearly.

Blue eyz--I can't wipe the smile off my face. Since I was a child I have dreamed--but I would just like to go up a little I would think--not all the way up. <br />
I made I sure I told them over and over what a thrill they had given me. The owner (a woman) actually jumped up and clapped her hands with me. She was happy to have made my day. It was amazing all around.

Tas...I KNOW! I'm telling you--I have some serious gravity going on. I have...adventures, without even trying. <br />
Um, ma'am, how about if we land in your backyard and take you for a little ride and then be on our way, I mean, if you don't have anything else going on today?<br />

LOL<br />
<br />
I often see balloons but they never come down and ask if I'd like to hop in! <br />
<br />
I am VERY envious!

Thank you for sharing in my joy!<br />
The pilot confided to me that he is afraid of elevators and ladders and such but that ascending in this way is an entirely different experience. He was right, but I wouldn't be able to go up as high as they routinely do I don't think-- unless I had a hand to hold. Then, maybe.<br />
It was awesome. I do feel blessed, definitely. I am still flying, actually.