As the title of this article reflects, life is something not always structured and well-planned following an order or itinerary with a specific goal in mind. The best-laid plans are subject to change at a moment's notice. Sometimes these surprises are temporary setbacks or delays, but sometimes they alter the whole course. At times these changes are happy and welcomed ones while on the other hand they might bring great sorrow.
But, on the lighter side, when a "surprise" happens that brings great joy one often will say, "Thank my lucky stars," so and so. Lucky stars, wishes in a wishing well, birthday wishes or any such gimmick or ruse are not to be taken seriously. Neither are fears of walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror. In practicality, walking under a ladder is not advisable for safety reasons. As for breaking a mirror, the misfortune here lies in the potential danger of a cut from a sliver of glass.
Who among us would not love to have Ed McMahon knock on your door and inform you that you are a millionaire? Oh, boy! That's my kind of surprise! And surprise it would be, too. I'd probably have to go to the hospital and go on tranquilizers just to keep me under reasonable control. I get giddy just thinking about it. Whew! Now talk about a course altering surprise! Um-m-m! Enough!
As early as childhood, one begins to enjoy the excitement of surprise. It may be a special trip, toy, seeing someone special or a party. But as one becomes older the surprises seems to become fewer and fewer.
One of my favorite surprises took place almost eleven years ago with the birth of my first grandchild. I was clueless to the change that tiny little baby was going to make in my life. I would hear other grandmothers and grandfathers talk about their grandchildren and I just could not understand what all the fuss was about. One lady I worked with, Edith, had one of those novelty license tags on her car that read, "Let me tell you about my grandchildren." And Carolyn's face would literally glow when she started talking about Jonathan.
Even waiting in the labor and delivery room, I was clueless. I did not realize for several days just what had happened. Then one day the light came on and to my surprise I UNDERSTOOD what all the to-do was about. And it was wonderful! You grandmas and grandpas know to what I am referring. Surprise!
Sometimes "surprises" come our way seeming ridiculous, strange, or out-of-place. While in a local grocery store recently a sprite young girl was observed picking up a large bag of dog food and tossed it over her shoulder like it was a bag of marshmallows. This writer WOULD NOT attempt such a thing. The scenario would end up looking like a Lucille Ball routine. One can almost picture it now; dog food spilled out the length of the aisle, and shopping cart lying on its side. Not to mention the calamity to others who by their misfortune came within ten feet of the area. Yeah, it probably would be real good footage for "America's Funniest Videos."
In exercising, one is advised to start out light with minimal reps, and over a period of time increase to a more strenuous regimen. This is sound advice, one doesn't want to overdo and strain something. So, if you see me in the grocery store throwing a bag of marshmallows over my shoulder, you will know I am in training.
Anyway, this young girl and her show of strength reminded me of a story I heard. This story stuck with me, because it illustrates a pearl of wisdom. The girl, Virginia, decided for whatever reason, to join the school's wrestling team. However, the school did not have a girl's wrestling team, only a boys!
Virginia's family and close friends tried to discourage her, fellow-classmates hee-hawed her unmercifully, and she received absolutely no encouragement from the coach. It was a tough sport and the team was out to win. He made it clear she would NOT be pampered or petted. Furthermore, she would not receive any preferential treatment because she was a girl.
To the surprise of many, this little wisp of a girl had more strength than one would have thought. The team's number of participants dwindled each time she penned someone. But something surprising happened. Those that stayed with the team were the better ones, the stronger ones, and ones who really were winners. What the coach once considered a hindrance had become a blessing in disguise.
No the girl, did not become an all-star, but she did hold her own. It brings to mind the saying; "A chain is as strong as its weakest link." This proved true on the school wrestling team that year. Had she not joined the team, the ones who left the team would have probably stayed on, being a weakness more than a strength. So, in truth, she strengthened the team. Those who once heckled her began to appreciate her contributions to the team. She was not the handicap anticipated. Surprise!
Surprises can also be teachers. Lessons in life have no definite schoolbook from which to learn and sometimes come in the strangest form. Often lessons are mislabeled as being problems. One might regard them as problems, if they do not have the courage or ingenuity to cope with and solve the situation at hand.
To a child just starting out, two plus two, equals four is a bit of a mystery because it does not seem necessary to their basic needs of "right now," which is a child's prime focus. Future needs just are not appreciated at the time. Later in life, that same child will learn to appreciate the equation in the aspects of growth, accomplishment, and gain.
A couple of years ago, I ran for the position of County School Board Member for my district. I had never done anything remotely close to that before. I did not know where to start. If it were not for the sound advice and encouragement of certain backers, I am sure I would not have done as well as I did. I really enjoyed meeting and talking to people in my district and listened to their concerns. I felt there were problems and was willing to try and lend a hand. Unfortunately, some of the problems I predicted have come true. But, they would have anyway, cause the stage was set and the damage had already been done. Surprise!
Courage and ingenuity are tools to help one overcome ANY problem, lesson, or surprise, depending on how you are willing to look at a situation. Without those attributes, many of the conveniences we enjoy today would not have come into being such as the telephone, automobile, computer, etc.
Even today, we laugh at the venture of Benjamin Franklin flying a kite with a key tied to it in a thunderstorm! And, what about those zany contraptions that preceded the Wright brother's airplane? Recently, this writer read an article where they are now making a more biodegradable plastic out of…corn. Now who, pray tell would have thought that? Evidently someone did! Surprise!
Thanks to the movie "Apollo 13" we see where ingenuity saved the lives of Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert in 1970. By using a few odds and ends on the command module, some of which included duct tape, plastic bag, cover from the flight manual and a SOCK. They contrived a CO2 filter, which literally saved their lives. One might say they put new meaning into the phrase, "Put a sock in it." It has been said, "Necessity is the mother of invention." In that case and for those three astronauts, most definitely. Surprise!
Life is full of surprises, whether they affect you directly or indirectly. May all our "surprises" be the happy and fulfilling kind. A recipe of one part courage and one part ingenuity along with a dollop of time is necessary for those surprises that are not so welcomed.
And as Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!"