Surprise is a reaction. Or an exclamation. Or it can be a thing, given without warning. Whether surprise is positive or negative, well, now. That depends on context: whether the thing is wanted, the event accompanying the exclamation is welcome, and in general, one’s experience with being surprised.
It can have associations of delight, appreciation, high spirits–happiness, even. It can also be a feeling of disruption, discomfort, and loss. Main point: we don’t have control over the act of surprise. By definition it comes from outside of us.
I don’t much like surprises. The shiny-happy-shallow world tells me this is a Bad Choice. Lots of people insist I should “let myself be surprised,” as if I had a choice in the matter. Reaction, remember? Asking people to control their instinctive response is not only annoying, it’s arrogant.
When my ninja cat leaped over the side of the couch from ten feet away to insist on being petted, I was not delighted. I was startled by the interruption and irritated by the result. Hot tea. Upholstery. Not friends.
Still, it amused me enough to take a picture. That was my eventual response. The surprise wasn’t welcome, but given time to recover I embraced the result.
“Let life surprise me?” Honestly, WTF does that even mean? Life is made of surprises. Control is a delusion. It’s like saying, “Let yourself stick to the surface of the planet. I can control gravity about as well as I can control “being surprised.”
And I can’t “choose to decide how I react” either. Surprise can only happen when we don’t have control. That will never be comfortable for me, any more than a fish is comfortable out of water. Accepting surprise in life (for me) is about getting past the surprise itself to whatever good may come of it.
And I know good can come of surprise, even when it’s hard to see at first. So I accept them in my own prickly way.
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Image credit: me. That’s Scooter. Being surprising.