I was out at that wine-and-cheese do on Friday night, making polite conversation with people I barely know or haven’t seen for years — not my best scene, truly — and got stuck in a crowded corner where I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation of an elderly couple.

A bit of an odd couple, they were — or would have been, if we’d been anywhere but at a artsy-literary event… He had a fabulous long beard and the brightest blue eyes this side of an elf. She was super-coiffed with short slver hair, a rather chic trouser outfit, and drippings of gems, all secondary to the sheer brilliance of her smile.

“When you can do a thing with your eyes closed,” she told him, “it’s time to try something different.”


Today, walking in a light afternoon rain with one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever known, I told him the silver-haired lady’s words.

He chuckled, then nodded, and he ran one long finger down the side of his face in the way he does on those rare occasions when he’s thinking seriously about something I’ve said. Truly, I expected to hear something profound — and what I got was a summary of a scene from the old TV show Seinfeld.

It seems that the George Castanza character is sitting around the diner, bemoaning the pitiful condition of his life. Seinfeld points out that George has been saying the same thing for years, and has done nothing to change his life in all that time.There’s some banter back and forth, and in the end Seinfeld convinces George that the thing for him to do is to approach every situation in the exact opposite way to what he’d been doing — to do the very opposite of the behaviours that were clearly not been working for him in the past.

George eventually agrees. As he goes to leave the diner, he walks by a lovely woman sitting at a table — and stops, turns back, and speaks to her. He says he noticed that they’d both ordered the same meal, or some such small talk, and she responds in kind.

Then he says: “I’m short, I’m fat, I’m bald, I’ve just been fired from my job, and I’m living with my parents.” And she stretches out her leg beneath the table, to kick out a chair for him to join her.

“That is possibly the greatest life lesson that ever did, or ever will, come out of a situation comedy,” said my friend. “If something’s not working, change it.”

“But the old people weren’t talking about a life not working out,” I said. “They were talking about staying alive and vital and interested in the world, no matter how old you get — staying engaged with life, and challenged by it.”

“Exactly,” he said. “And if you’re not growing and learning, your life isn’t really working out, is it? So… change something. Try something new.”


By accident — by one of those series of clicks that can lead one almost anywhere on the internet, no matter what task it might be that you set out with good intentions to accomplish — I came across the Serendipity Engine at Storm The Castle.

One click of the engine button will serve up a random selection of topics, movies, books, something to explore…

Choose something that catches your eye and click on it to learn more. If nothing catches your eye you can return and try again…. But the whole point of this engine is to get you to try something new.

I got Astronomy and Hobby Hydroponics. Okay, I know the constellations Orion, Ursa Major, one or two others, when I take the time to stop and look up into the night sky, but that’s about it. Hydroponics, that’s all new to me. And you know what, I think I may just take some time to read a bit about both.

No harm in trying something new.

Leave a Reply