Monday, January 14, 2008

Surprises Don’t Have to Be Bad

Ask most people and I think they would tell you that I have a mostly-positive outlook on life. Despite that sense of optimism, I’m beginning to realize that my work life has trained me to have a really negative view of surprises – whether at work or at home. I’m sure my need to plan, organize and control most things in my life also has a hand in this as well, but that’s definitely another post!

Over the years, when I have been handed a “surprise” it typically means I drop everything else I’m doing in my life and focus on a really nasty issue at work for several days and nights until the storm has ended. These things of course happen at really bad times – over a major holiday, immediately prior to leaving for a friend’s wedding or family vacation, etc.

In the “home” category, here’s a recent example of a little surprise. Jason and I went snorkeling in Hawaii and saw 5-6 sea turtles in a small bay on the Big Island. It was sea turtle nirvana for me. What I was quite surprised to learn the next morning was the very same little bay was closed right after we left because a 10-foot tiger shark had been spotted prowling around. I think that definitely would have been classified as a (bad) surprise had we met face:face with that shark!

So this past weekend, imagine my shock when I walked into a room of people who all yelled “Sur-prise!” at me around 9pm on a random Saturday night in SF. I have to say it took me several moments to figure out what the heck was going on: Jason had organized a belated birthday party for me. Two days later I’m still a little bit in shock at the whole thing but now I’m trying to figure out what surprised me more – the party itself or the fact that I enjoyed the element of surprise so much!

I guess this experience is changing my view of the world of surprises because now I’m thinking of all of the other unexpected things that have happened recently that are really great. Like the fact that my friend Amy flew up for 24 hours just to make the party. Or that I learned my friend Joanna’s S.O. use to be a DJ and loves to go dancing (who would have ever guessed that James was such a dancing queen?!). Or that my Dad is becoming a spontaneous traveler (much to the delight of my mother).

So I guess surprises can be a really good thing – it’s all in how you look at it. I hope I have many more in 2008. Happy New Year!