“Accidents and inspiration lead you to your destination.” (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, our lives are shaped by a series of accidents. These can be as simple and commonplace as a chance introduction by a friend or a random encounter with a stranger. All such happy accidents create opportunities to develop new relationships and explore new things, if we are shrewd enough to recognise the potential that they hold. (Of course, some accidents are downright nasty, but we will set them aside to ponder another time.)
I have personally experienced several instances where a series of related accidents over a period of months / years has culminated in a moment of inspiration that has then catapulted me down a path that I had not previously considered. The song lyric cited above to introduce this post has proven an apt description for the process that I experienced.
A case in point is the journey that ultimately led to my decision to take up rowing. A chronology of otherwise unrelated encounters included:
- Age 18 – Being treated by a chiropractor who had been a school boy rower; he was the first person to suggest that I might be suited to the sport. A seed was planted.
- Age 20 – Enrolled to study psychology at Monash University, my desire to avoid dissecting rats in the experimental lab at the Clayton campus meant that, instead, I attended Applied Psychology lectures held at the Caulfield campus. There I met a mature age student (in his 60’s) who happened to be a member of the Hawthorn Rowing Club. He tried to recruit me to the club without success. At the time I was committed to playing four games of basketball per week.
- Age 24 – Whilst doing bench press during a gym session I ruptured my right pectoralis major tendon (torn clean off the shoulder; made a thoroughly delightful sound). The surgeon who reattached the muscle for me suggested that I incorporate more exercises that would strengthen the rear of the shoulder; e.g. rowing.
- Age 25 – Within 18 months of the original surgery I required an arthroscope to repair a torn labrum in the same shoulder (basketball injury). Rowing was again suggested as an activity that would be of benefit.
Plenty of accidents there for sure. Next stop, inspiration!
A cathartic moment at an AFL game (Richmond v North Melbourne…Tigers lost …bummer) had me resolve to throw myself at a completely new sport, from scratch. Later that year I had my first row. It happened to be at Hawthorn Rowing Club, in a tub pair named after the club member that I’d met at Monash University years earlier (he had since passed away).
So many positive things flowed as a consequence of that journey into rowing. From meeting my partner of (almost) 13 years, to standing on the podium at National Championships with my mates, racing at Henley Royal Regatta in the UK and forging too many great friendships to count here.
All because of accidents and inspiration.
Think about where you find yourself today. What combination of accidents and inspiration has transported you there?
Links to “The Long Way Home”, by Mary Chapin Carpenter: