Home » Travel inspiration » Cultivating Serendipity: walk the garden of forking paths

Cultivating Serendipity: walk the garden of forking paths

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Serendipity is all about making fortunate discoveries by accident. When we travel, we search for new discoveries, new worlds. Travelers by heart have a strong desire to go where the road takes them, rather than carrying around a detailed itinerary.

You can just wait for serendipity to happen, but I am big promoter of using it more pro-actively. Mark Robertson introduced the term Cultivating Serendipity, that I gladly adopt for this post.

This post is not about a specific country or travel destination. On the contrary! It explains why I am such a big fan of serendipity. Although by accident, I believe you can actively use it to improve your travel experience!

Pursuing an alternative reality

I hear you saying: accidental discoveries cannot be planned. You cannot control something you don’t know will happen.

Have you ever heard of the concept of parallel universes?
A parallel universe is a separate reality co-existing with one’s own.

Now that is something to think about: there might be more than one reality!

Much is happening around you, things invisible at first glance. When you travel, you need to be aware of multiple possible realities because the actual world you experience is just one of many possible worlds. The actual world is the one you live in, the one you see and breathe. But within the blink of an eye, you can move from your actual world into another one. Passing through an invisible door.

Getting dizzy already? Having fun?

Well, this is just how I look at things and how I seriously enjoy Travel Serendipity.

Let’s look at an example. You walk this road in a place you have never been before. You look around and are only able to see what your mind can absorb. This is your reality. Then another person passes by. If you turn and start following him, you have suddenly switched to a parallel world that was overlapping with yours (for a short time though). This person will lead you to the place he lives, works or relaxes. You have found a different world.

Does this make any sense?

You will not hear me talk about scientific evidence for parallel universes, but it is fun! It provides inspiration for a new way of traveling.

Travel serendipity: discover by accident

I mentioned in an earlier post that when we travel I always create time to go out and discover by accident. I walk out of the hotel and turn right. I have made it a smart habit to look into every alley or street that I pass. Searching for an alternative reality. I found kids in an alley playing with kites while their grandfather was watching them, an elderly couple in their store showing me how they made a living. It doesn’t have to be about discovering big things. The beauty lies in smaller things, everyday people doing everyday stuff.

I love travel writing like this, just as much as I love to dream about the concept of parallel universes.

Break through your limitations

There is so much to discover and learn, as long as we break through our limitations. As long as we dare to deviate from our path, our itinerary. I believe there is so much to discover if we just walk “The Garden of Forking Paths”.

My name is Emiel, and I am a Serendipity Hunter.

How about you?

Serendipity garden of forking paths

The idea of parallel universes was initially proposed in the 1941 short story titled “El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan (The garden of forking paths)written by Jorge Luis Borges more than a decade before the actual theory came into picture. Main issue in Borges’ novel was the questioning of the idea of history as a single path or linear process; posing instead the idea of history branching out in an infinite number of different directions at every point in time and space; every space-time node as the center of a system of branching or forking paths, an ever-recurring moment/place of choice with profound effects on and links to everything else.

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Gabriel Musante May 28, 2013 - 02:39

Nice post Sir, during travel I occasionally have traversed this path, quite unconsciously maybe almost serendipitously. Here’s a link about Borges and some of his clairvoyant writings. http://www.sigloxxieditores.com.ar/fichaLibro.php?libro=978-987-629-265-8

Emiel van den Boomen May 28, 2013 - 21:45

Thanks for sharing Gabriel.

Jenna September 5, 2011 - 03:04

your perspective and voice are so refreshing!

Nadine Hudson May 8, 2011 - 07:12

Dear Emiel
As announced earlier, I have now posted my thoughts about “split souls” and linked them with your thoughts of parallel universes. I think they somehow go together, as each time we deeply emerge in the garden of forking paths, we seem to end up losing (or gaining) parts of our souls.
Thank you for your inspirations.
Nadine and family

Emiel May 12, 2011 - 22:49

Great reading your post on Split Souls: http://hudsonfamily.ch/en/2011/05/split-souls/

It looks at traveling from a whole new perspective. Every place we visit becomes part of us. I think it is about creating global insights and understanding of different cultures. When you return from a travel, part of you is still over there. That country or those people have now become part of your personal experience. The more you travel, the more complex it becomes…but that makes it interesting. And a travel blog can help to put it all into perspective!!

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[…] a very talented blog author recently wrote an article about parallel universes, “walk the garden of forking paths“. We all live in our own reality, but at any moment we can make the active choice to look […]

Gespaltene Seelen « Hudson Family May 8, 2011 - 07:03

[…] ein sehr talentierter Blog Autor schrieb vor kurzem einen Beitrag über parallele Universen, „walk the garden of forking paths“. Wir alle leben in unserer eigenen Realität, doch können […]

jacquelincangro April 17, 2011 - 13:21

Your post got me thinking: we can be serendipity hunters right in our hometowns. We don’t have to travel to find the unexpected. It can be found just outside our back doors if we stay open to it.

Emiel April 17, 2011 - 21:21

Dear Jacquelin,
That’s a great comment coming from Brooklyn! I guess NYC is just the place to be for Serendipity Hunters like us. But your are right, it is not only for travelers in unknown places (although the experience might be more intense if you Hunt in undiscovered territory). Thanks for your comment.

Amy April 14, 2011 - 20:19

Serendipity hunter! Love it! That is something I love about travel, the moments where you find yourself in a beautiful moment, where you learn and grow, through no planning of your own!

Emiel van den Boomen April 17, 2011 - 21:14

Amy, glad you love to be a Serendipity Hunter! And, just as Jacquelin commented below, you don’t have to go traveling to be a Hunter, it can enrich you even in your own home town. Thanks for stopping by.

Nomadic Chick April 14, 2011 - 12:07

The strangeness and unfamiliarity that’s echoed so well in novels like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (menacing savage) has passed with the Industrial revolution and the current trend of technology.

How does technology play a part in parallel universe? It dissolves those mysterious borders to some degree, where now we can capture it.

Unprecedented, but I’m a devotee of plain old human stumbling, rambling upon those different paths.

Cultivating, is utterly appropriate. 🙂

Emiel April 14, 2011 - 19:50

Jeannie, let’s ramble upon different paths! We need that sometimes, without technology. Great comment, love it.
But technology also made us meet each other. Online, in a different universe. So on one hand we also have to thank technology for cultivating our online serendipity crusade.

Cherszy April 14, 2011 - 07:26

I’m a strong believer of parallel universes although i cannot prove its existence. The idea came to me when i was around like 12 or 13 years old. Little did i know that somebody actually proposed it in history. Very interesting concept really, don’t you think?

Like you, when i travel, i want to get the best out of everything. I tend to allow myself to be immersed in the possibilities of exploration. I want to discover new worlds and let them fill me during my trip. Like you, I guess I am a Serendipity Hunter too! 🙂

Emiel April 14, 2011 - 19:55

Welcome my fellow Serendipity Hunter! Lovely to read that you already thought about the parallel universe concept at age 12. I love it when you say: “to allow myself to be immersed in the possibilities of exploration”! Thanks.


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