The Soul of Surprise

by Christopher Lovejoy on June 10, 2012

When I heard that animal manure makes excellent fertilizer, I was genuinely surprised.

Who would have thought that something as smelly as manure could actually have life-giving value? In this light, the vulgar rejoinder, “I don’t give a shit”, seems inaccurate, as if shit didn’t have any value.

“I could give a shit”, spoken sincerely, with genuine contribution in mind, seems more appropriate.

“No surprises” is another interesting albeit telling phrase.

In his biography of novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden relates how Miss Rand responded with indignation when a group of festive spirits surprised her on her birthday.

Her justifying reason was simple: she wasn’t given a choice.

“No surprises”, however, usually implies that life isn’t going too well for the admonisher.

This is especially true when we struggle to “keep it together”. Either we can’t deal with any potential problems that might arise or we’re just not in the mood to deal with them.

There’s a feeling that surprises, pleasant or unpleasant, will lead to unwelcome consequences.

A surprise can be quite pleasant, arousing a sense of awe and wonder, or a feeling of astonishment.

When I welcome pleasant surprises into the heart of my soul, my chances of being a subject to their beneficial influence obviously increase the more I make room for them.

Sometimes, however, surprises are not so pleasant, but even here, if I stay open to their silver linings, opportunities can arise for learning and growth in the light of truth, love, and wisdom.

In the course of my day, treating unpleasant surprises with a modicum of respect can have me think twice before I judge crossly what I do not yet understand or appreciate.

In moments of synchronicity dwell mysteries that surpass understanding. I can never know for sure how the hands of fate might serve to weave for me a larger tapestry.

For myself, I view receptivity to surprise as a barometer for my capacity to cope with change.

If I’m feeling generally good about myself and the world, I can take unpleasant surprises in stride, adjusting course as or when necessary. I can also take delight in the pleasant ones.

Surprises prod or prick psychological bubbles of clarity, choice, certainty, and control.

That’s why they’re called surprises.

Not only do surprises serve a valid function, they also keep the soul fresh and refreshed, putting said soul on notice when it starts getting too rigid and resistant for its own good.

There’s really no better way to invite surprise into your life than to welcome the unknown.

When I’m caught off guard, I surrender to the moment and follow my nose with intuitive intent.

When my intuitive intent is sufficiently tentative and humble in a moment of tension and confusion, I invariably end up exactly where I need to be to continue my journey.

When I’m confronted by an unexpected delight, I release any sense of lacking control that would prevent the heart of my soul from receiving the full extent of my joy.


This post is the twentieth post in a series that began here.

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