Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Element of Suprise

I have encountered a fascinating realization. In life there are very few controlled variables. Instead, there are mysterious, not so tangible variables. I've been contemplating this recently because there are so many things in my life that are unknown. My sisters always make fun of me because I love surprises. I am surprise-obsessed.

Are the flowers at the door for me?
Is my sister going to show up at my house all the way from Oklahoma to surprise me for my 25th birthday?
Will I pull that A in class?
Is there that perfect gift under the tree?
Will the two year old boy I nanny for say a new word today?

I love shock appeal for this very reason. I love surprise.

But more than others surprising me sometimes I surprise myself.
I go neurotic when I had high hopes of being calm.
I snort when I laugh.
The coffee is cheaper than expected.
I care more than I wanted.
The painting I created is better than imagined.

Then of course there is a dark side to surprise. The out of control part. The questions without concrete answers.

Will an earthquake take my tomorrow away?
Will the test results come back and reveal my health is in jepordy?
What if I do buy a dog and end up being a “dog women”, never to let love in?
What if that person is not out there?
Maybe, surprise, I don't pass the exam?
Surprise, my legs are too injured to run.
What about you?
The flowers at the door are not yours, they are yours roommates.
Surprise, the car accident stole your closest family member
Shock, you were laid off.
Punch in the gut, he walked away from everything you two had created.

Imagine stepping into a dark room. Suddenly all the lights flash on, confetti chucked at you, colorful,vibrant balloons, cameras click and everyone hidden in corners yells, “Surprise!”
A banner hung boldly says, “Life is not what you thought it was.”

These are the surprises that merit no celebrations.

And yet I then begin to imagine a life that was known, predictable, the same. Pretend for a minute your life was already set in stone and you knew your career, your family, who'd you marry, where'd you live, what you would and wouldn't accomplish. Somehow free will is ripped from your grasp and life takes on a robotic dull glow. No mystery. No second guessing. No waking up and planning. Already done. No dreaming. No wishing. No running into someone and being surprised by their warmth and the way they looked at you. No being surprised by how good the steak tastes. It was already known you would start the orphanage in Uganda. No risk at all. No strategizing. Life would be boring.

Much like the convenience of a dog, eat, sleep, roam about the house, the usual walks outside, the same dry dog food. The typical red leash. Yawn. While it seems safe and cozy my bet is the day the dog groans in the usual morning ritual, but then goes on an unexpected road trip up the moutains to go camping is the best day of the dog's life. Surprise! Run free! No leash and no typical sidewalks to stroll through the cement jungle.

I think one day we will wake up to a new day and we are going to be surprised. It will be the best day of our life. It will be the perfect surprise. The narrow balance beam sidewalks of performance will be gone, the tear stained surprise boxes that held disappointment, the rulers that measured who I was. The surprise was never good enough.

Finally the greatest surprise. I come face to face with Him. The creator of the best kind of surprise. I thought you died, I choke back. Stronger than you think, He reads me. I see a glow in His eyes. I catch my breath. “Welcome home” He says, I look to reach for His hand only to realize He was already holding mine.

The confetti, the balloons, lights flash, people smiling and laughing, I walk out of the dark shadow of before today and hear everyone yell, “Surprise!”

It's over, just a minute ago I was there at the exam, so afraid, conscious sedation so they call it, quicker procedure than I imagined, the element of surprise.

Life is not what I thought it was and I'm so glad I was wrong. I suppose I love surprises more than I did before.