Making Discoveries By Accident

You stumble upon something that has grand and mysterious significance, but as Louis Pasteur famously stated, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”  Serendipity will not occur unless you exercise your powers of observation.  Sudden flashes of insight don’t just happen, they are the products of preparation.  The origins of the word serendipity stems from a Persian Fairy Tale called “The Three Princes of Serendip”.  The three brothers meet a camel driver who just lost his camel.  He inquires if they had seen it, and purely as a joke the princes supplied the camel driver with all sorts of semi-contrived details.  The first prince asks, “Was your camel blind in one eye?” “Yes,” responded the camel driver.  And the second prince said, “Did your camel have a tooth missing?”  “Yes,” the owner said again.  The third asked if his camel was lame.  “Yes,” said the driver.

The driver retraced the Princes’ steps along the trail, but he did not find his camel. When he encountered them again, he accused them of deception, but the first prince said, “Your camel carried a load of butter on one side and of honey on the other.”  The second said that the camel also carried a woman, and the third prince added that she was pregnant.  The camel driver was now convinced that anyone who knew all of these details must have stolen his camel, so he had the princes jailed as camel thieves.  When emperor heard about the crime, he sentenced the princes to death.  They then confessed they had played a joke on the camel driver, and that their imaginations must have gotten the better of them because some of their descriptions happened to coincide with the truth.  Later, when the real camel was found, the emperor released the princes.

He then inquired how could they have guessed so many details. The brothers, told him the following camel story, “I thought he must have been blind in the right eye, because only the grass along the left side of the trail was eaten even though it was not as thick as that over on the right side.”  “I guessed that the camel lacked a tooth because the way the grass cuds were chewed indicated that a tooth was missing.”  “I guessed that the camel was lame because only three footprints were clearly indicated, whereas the fourth print was dragged.”

They continued, “I guessed that the camel had a load of butter on one side because there were many ants on one side of the trail, and I thought he carried honey on the other side because many flies gathered along the other side of the trail.” “I guessed that the camel must have carried a woman because I noted a footprint and found some female urine near where the camel had knelt.”  And the third prince concluded, “I guessed that the woman was pregnant because the hand prints nearby showed that she had helped herself up with her hands after urinating.”

Written for Linda G. Hill’s ‘Life in progress’ JusJoJan January twentieth prompt suggested by Jill, J-Dubs Grin and Bear It and that is “Serendipity”.

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