July 29, 2013

Surprise, Surprise

Merriam Webster defines the word "surprise" as:

"....to attack unexpectedly; .....to take unawares; .....to strike with wonder or amazement especially because unexpected..."

It is the latter definition that has captivated my thoughts:
"....to strike with wonder or amazement especially because unexpected."
We hear "surprise" everyday. "Surprise! Happy Birthday!" "Why am I surprised.....?" "What a surprise it was...." "She was surprised to learn......" "We wanted to surprise you....."  "Can't we ever surprise you?"  "Nothing would surprise me...." "It caught me by surprise...." "Well, surprise, surprise...."

But do such surprising statements represent the essence of what a surprising moment should be?  This leads me to ponder:
When is the last time you were genuinely surprised and what do you consider surprise-worthy circumstances?
  • Winning the lottery?
  • Flowers from a loved one or a secret admirer?
  • Handwritten notes?
  • Dare I ask this: a surprise party?
  • An unannounced pay increase?
  • A marriage proposal?
  • Winning a contest?
  • Getting to work on time?
  • No cars on I-285 in Atlanta; ....At All..?
  • Getting a check from the power company instead of a bill?
  • The depths of media reporting on crime?
  • The depths of crime itself? (...shock & disgust, yes, surprise - NO.)
  • How about manners?
  • What about first time childbirth?  There's a potential candidate for "surprise" - especially when involuntary natural childbirth is invoked because your [first] baby tried to enter the world in the car. ....at six weeks early - it was most certainly "unexpected".
  • Walking up on a snake in the woods?
  • How about an alligator at your backdoor?
  • Ever experience the kindness of a stranger? Would that surprise you?
  • Not having to repeat yourself?
  • Your children [voluntarily] cleaning the toilets?
  • How about the IRS announcing there will be no more income tax? 

Here are a few quotes that, while contemplating the concept of this notion, I found circle the neighborhood of how I define "surprise":

"Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us."
 - Boris Pasternak

"Continue to surprise those who would put you in a neat demographic. Be insistently curious."
 - Gordon Gee

"A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open."
 - Francis Bacon

"Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise."
 - Julia Cameron

"Do not know yourself. I want to continue to surprise me."
 - Arielle Dombasle

"Every day is a surprise. There are confirmations of an interconnectivity and synchronicity which inspire, titillate and confirm the inherent comedy of the universe."
 - Billy Zane

"Wonder is from surprise, and surprise stops with experience."
 - Bishop Robert South

"Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense."
 -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be."
 - Ellen Burstyn

"Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."
 - Alice Walker

"The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us."
 - Francois de la Rochefoucauld

I especially like the quote by Arielle Dombasle: "....I want to continue to surprise me."

These are all great thoughts and yet only gently approach what I deem true surprise.  And while the gift of clean toilets lifted up as gift-worthy on any given Mothers Day (in my world) would really be a surprise to me - or at least bring a smile to my lips and cause my eyebrows to raise in wonder (wondering what someone is trying to hide from me....), it does not qualify to belong in the realm of my surprise desires.

Just recently, someone asked me what I do for fun; without hesitation I answered, "Every day is fun."  After I said those words, it led me to think more and more about that.

I'm known to often say, "Happiness is a choice," therefore, regardless of the things that I can not control [around me] and [in the world], I will choose happiness every chance I get.

I choose to seek out that every day there is something worth celebrating, some simple, small joy worth smiling over: the sheep running to me when I walk into the pasture; Bebe, my barn cat always happy to see me when I feed the chickens and geese; the change of season here along the Dirt Road; discovering where the Passion Flower vines will bloom this year; the Blue Heron allowing me to stand close-by and watch him fish the creek; the roll-call of the Barred Owls at night; loving the fact that my boys, all big now and often stinky and sweaty, will kiss their Momma in front of their friends - all moments to be savored and cherished.

Then there is fun out in the world of people with people.  Everyone was once 4 and 5 years old - little innocent and wide-eyed children. Much can be said about what's wrong in the world today - but shouldn't we be looking for what is good?  Is good that hard to see anymore?

Is it the *good* that surprises you?  Not me; it's there - it's always been there.  It may be dusty or surrounded by clutter or even muddied like an unattended child whose face reveals precious freckles when wiped clean....  Good is there....we have to be more diligent in looking for it and sharing it.

Meanwhile, surprise is waiting; I believe it's smiling slyly all the while knowing its unpredictability.  Real surprise is a beautiful thing.  I can not expect it or look for it - that would undermine its worth and ultimate purpose.  So here are my defining thoughts on 'surprise':

Surprise is that moment resulting from someone's words or gestures or a moment suspended in time, so rare and unexpected, it intimately takes your breath away and is For.Ever. etched upon your Heart.  

Harriette Keen Jacobs
South of the Gnat Line
Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved.

July 9, 2013

Universal Mission Statement

"Be Good & Do Good." - HKJ

It's really that simple.

...and plant more Daisies.

Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved.

July 1, 2013

A Writer's Palette

 "But with writers, there's nothing wrong with melancholy. It's an important color in writing."

~ Paul McCartney