Posted on October 13, 2011


Surprised much?

In the movie Dan in Real Life, the final line the narrator (Steve Carell) delivered is to an audience of readers assumed-to-be parents, for his first article in his newly-syndicated column. He tells them, “Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised.” That quote might not be word-perfect, but it grasps the point of this post for me.

I love surprises. I’ve met the people who don’t (many, many people), and I’ve met the people who do (oh, so few). But I join the ranks of those who like nothing better than to be swept off my feet, or taken by total surprise, or just blown away by a thoughtful, kind gesture, an unexpected situation where I find myself unable to keep from smiling.

Before I turned 16, I told my parents that I wanted a surprise party. I wanted to be gleefully and unexpectedly surprised by friends. And the crazy thing is, they did surprise me! I remember walking up to my front door on my 16th birthday with my best friend and her older brother, and out of nowhere people jumped up from behind furniture and hidden spaces, yelling “surprise!” It turned out to be the most memorable and one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

But this post is more than about being surprised on a 16th birthday, or a friend making a special visit, or someone buying me dinner just because “they feel like it,” or one of those mediocre-reviewed movies that turned out to be the most awe-inspiring film of the year. Those surprises are great, and those are the stories and the reasons I’ve come to love surprises.  But this post is about the surprises that are not planned for. The ones that I don’t see coming, that I don’t understand how life could have erupted in such a fashion that I’m taken aback or sadly dismayed at my current circumstances.

Maybe it’s viewed negatively by many that I choose to write about ongoing situations in my life, even the unpleasant ones. As if I’m possibly trying to distort a person or air out my dirty laundry for the general public. But it’s not really about that. For me, life is all about analyzation. That is, for me, viewing life’s circumstances through a tunnel, turning them inside and out, and looking beyond even the grittiest details for the reason they occurred. Perhaps too much of this deep analysis will only hinder me from moving past unimportant events that steal away my time and my thoughts, but some circumstances are worth a turn-around look that lasts longer than a few moments. Some people chalk up this idea to a sense of weakness, that I’m unable to let go of a past event because I feel inclined to study it far past it’s so-called expiration date. But for me, this is what I enjoy about writing – I learn and understand better when I write. And isn’t that what blogging is for? Self-expression, writing, reporting, updating, inspiring, and extracting the details of life from the experiences of life. That’s how I see it. And now I’ll digress from my explanation and jump into this conversation.

I had a surprise happen this week. An unexpected, completely felt-taken-aback kind of surprise. And it really, really sucked. I mean, for any enemy of mine that could be perusing this site, look RIGHT HERE, because your desire to see me disappointed or exasperated or sad will now be fulfilled – this surprise that happened was all of that for me. And I don’t regard any details necessary to mention, because this isn’t the place for them. But I will admit that I was sadly surprised at what happened. And out of the situation, I came out inspired with lessons I needed to be reminded of again. I don’t ever hope to stop trusting people, or to stop relying on them. But I’m reminded once again that people are not fool-proof, and that I cannot expect that from them. Forgiveness is just as important to give as it is to receive. And maybe most importantly,  a reaction reveals far more about a person than the original action that takes place. So much of life is about reacting to things that are said and done, and how we deal with them. A reaction shows how people cope with the surprises of life. And perhaps I learned as well that I’m not a fan of the rough surprises of life. It’s easy to be excited by joyful surprises, but no one likes it when something unexpectedly bad happens. No one does. The best thing I know to do is to prepare myself in every way possible, so when something negative sneaks up on me, my reaction will reveal that I’m capable of dealing with it.

After all, I’m only human.