“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.” Boris Pasternak
Do you like surprises? If not, why not? How do you usually respond to them?
A couple of weeks ago when we had some occasional days of snow, I was quietly writing on my computer. My desk faces a front window. I became distracted by the chirping and fluttering of a large group of Robins. Outside to my right was a holly bush full of red berries. Having this bush there was a treat in the winter when there is no color from flowers or other growing things.
Seeing What Was Always There
I finally stopped to pay attention to the birds and realized at least a dozen or more were flying back and forth from the brush to the bare branches of the trees nearby. Landing on the bush, each ate several berries, then flew back to a tree. Resting a moment, or maybe waiting his turn, each bird watched, then flew to the bush, fluttered about, noisily landed, and gobbled again.
The Robins were so entertaining with their flight patterns, chirping and fussing, and careful selection of which berry to eat that I watched them for quite a while. What a surprise! I’ve lived with that holly bush for years and never seen this before. What a pleasure! Had it been happening for years but I never noticed?
Surprises Show Us Who We Really Are
The wonderful thing about surprises is that they may open our hearts and minds in ways we had never expected and lead us in a direction we may not have previously chosen.
When I was a high school senior, my family had just moved to Memphis and I was facing my senior year not knowing a soul. I had become interested in theater so I took a drama class that created a new group of friends for me. At the end of the year, we performed a musical in which I had a major role. I was thrilled! Previously, I had always had tiny roles.
I also became a member of the Thespian Society and it gave out awards at the end of the year. Sitting at the banquet, I was sure the girl who had played the largest lead role would win the Best Actress Award. So when my name was called, I was so surprised I couldn’t move. I looked at the friend next to me who motioned for me to get up.
This award made me realize what others were trying to tell me. I was talented. Because of this, I followed my desire and majored in theater in college. This training was a tremendous gift for life, especially since I was naturally an introvert. By the time I finished college, I felt confident about expressing myself orally and also about writing speeches or poetry that could then be read aloud.
Negative Surprises May Have Hidden Gifts
While I have mentioned only happy surprises, even unhappy ones may be a gift. When my father died suddenly from a burst blood vessel in his lung, it shocked us all. For him, however, it was better than the painful misery of fighting to breathe.
When my first husband was having an affair, I was unaware of it until he told me he wanted a divorce. I was shocked! Then he explained what had been going on. Learning about his betrayal made me face the fact that we really were not a good match. He could never be the kind of partner with whom I wanted to share my life. Clearly, I was not his ideal. This was a gift to me in disguise.
We Prefer Happy Surprises
Of course the surprises we all like the most are the happy ones: the partner we love asking us to marry, getting the promotion we thought would go to someone else, or receiving the gift of roses or sweets that reminds us we are loved.
However, the most valuable aspect of a surprise is that it often opens our minds to see what we need to see, when we have been unable or unwilling. Those surprises may move us forward in life, show us how we are limiting ourselves and need to change, or reveal what we most need to know. These surprises are the gifts we most need to receive.
2020 © Georganne Spruce