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A Happy Accident

How often does this happen to other people? You discover a new word and then you start seeing it everywhere.

This recently happened to me with the word, "Aerie". It's what my young nephew calls his sister Ariel. I recently noticed that American Eagle had a clothing line by that name, and I thought about buying my niece a shirt from there for her birthday. I decided against it, figuring I was probably the last person to think of it (We only get to a real mall with an American Eagle once a year, and the clothing line was probably old news). I e-mailed Ariel anyway and asked her if she knew there was a clothing line with her name. I didn't think to look up "Aerie" because I didn't even know it was a real word. This is almost embarrassing to admit, because people think English majors and teachers are great spellers and know every word in the dictionary. (In fact I always, and just did, spell embarrassing wrong without spell check.) I probably would have forgotten about the word "Aerie" altogether, but a few days later, I came across it in a writing book. In, "Take Joy," Jane Yolen explains that she calls her writing room the Aerie, because it is as high up as an eagle's nest. Uh-duh. American Eagle. So began my new love for the word. Now "Aerie" reminds me of Ariel, and writing. This was a fascinating discovery to me because Ariel has recently announced her dream of becoming an author. At just 13, she has been writing amazing stories and enjoying a wide readership! For her birthday, I decided to send her a journal and some of my favourite writing books. I only wish someone had encouraged me at such a young age, rather than just saying, that they liked my writing or my high school newspaper column.

But, back to the word thing. It happened again a few days later. For Christmas, Jackson got a My Little Pony storybook called "Butterfly Hunt". It's about Sparkleworks, and Serendipty. They accidentally discover a butterfly, and then decide to look for more.What they find is a beautiful rainbow berry bush. They get swept up onto a cloud by a sea of butterflies and enjoy an enchanting ride over Ponyville. Dean hates this story because it's so disgustingly sweet. I don't care for it much myself. But what we both love, is the way Jackson, 2 goes around the house saying such a sophisticated word. "Serendipity". She says it like it's a word everyone knows and hasn't asked what it means. But truthfully, it's a word that neither Dean or I could have provided the definition for. We figured it meant good luck because the pony had good-luck clovers on her bum. Then, on Boxing Day. I found the word in a book I was reading. The writer talked about going on "Serendipity Walks" with her husband. They would just drive somewhere and get out of the car at a random spot, and then set off on an adventure on foot to see what they could see. It sounded like such a great way to get inspired and I vowed to try it out by taking Jaks on Serendipity walks.

But, I still didn't quite know what the word meant. I asked Dean to look it up online. He came up with this: "an aptitude for making discoveries by accident." I wasn't all that satisfied with such a rigid definition for such a playful word, but I accepted it and wrote it in my journal. Then, the next day, I picked up the writing book again (the one that was written from the Aerie), and started a new chapter. I was astounded to find that the section was devoted to my new favourite word. Serendipity.And what a discovery this was too! This writer made sense of the word. She called it "A happy accident." I grew fonder of this word in an instant. I guess Serendipity is a way to describe this thing when it happens...when I stumble upon a new word after I've only just met it. Now, do I have an aptitude for this, or does it happen to everybody?

"Serendipity is not so simple as luck. It is the result of a conscious forging of links. The writer becomes a participant in each act of a happy accident." Jane Yolen

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