Byron's Babbles

Happy Accidents

I am just about half way through Volume Two of the Autobiography of Mark Twain. As I already stated in Acquired Skills it is an is an incredibly fascinating and tough read all at the same time. To be sure, the beloved humorist keeps the reader laughing as he discusses for an entire chapter about the fly being the only species that humans cannot devise a way to exterminate. When you think about the fly, that is true. But Twain also make us think with his anecdotes. One such anecdote is his discussion of accidents. Twain reminded us “There are no accidents, all things have a deep and calculated purpose; sometimes the methods employed by Providence seem strange and incongruous, but we have only to be patient and wait for the result: then we recognize that no others would have answered the purpose, and we are rebuked and humbled.” Twain calls these “happy accidents” in his autobiography. Some might call these luck, but really they are, as he defines them, accidents. Twain even defines accidents as being an event that happens at no fault or premeditated thought or action of someone else.

There are those who imagine that the unlucky accidents of life—life’s “experiences”—are in some way useful to us. I wish I could find out how. I never know one of them to happen twice. They always change off and swap around and catch you on your inexperienced side.

Mark Twain

When I began to think about it I could come up with accidents that have happened in my life that led to some incredible opportunities. I’ll bet you can too. Twain told the story of being in New Orleans and wanting to learn to be a steam boat pilot. He asked a captain who told him “no,” but then the captain developed pain in his body that kept him from being able to pilot. Long story short, he sat in the pilot’s house and supervise Twain piloting the boat for him. Thus, Twain became an apprentice, learned to pilot the steam ship, and became a steam boat pilot. Sure seems like a happy accident to me. In fact, that whole adventure started out with Twain accidentally finding $50 in the street! The great humorist and author taught us, “Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.” Bob Ross taught us, “we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.” Happy accidents can give us a chance to improve or go down a new path. They are a chance to create something we didn’t even imagine before. Happy accidents can give us the opportunity to learn, a chance to grow, and a chance for you to look at new perspectives. They can turn something average into a happier thing.

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