I’m thinking surprises this week and surprising things.
Like finding £20 in a jacket not worn for a while, or rocking up at the doctor’s office for a pat on the back for getting your cholesterol down… to be told instead you have breast cancer. SURPRISE!
Not that I was that good at surprises to begin with. As gregarious as I can be, walking into a room and a group of people jumping out at me shouting ‘Happy Birthday,’ makes my skin sweat.
Armchair psychology will, of course, talk about needing to be in control of my situations. That surprises – good or bad – are not welcome because it takes away my right to prepare a response.
I’ve put it in that terminology because I remember in one of my first jobs I begged my colleagues not to have any sort of ‘do’ for me when I was ready to leave for the next rung on the greasy ladder. The thought of speeches, from the inane to disingenuous, even sincere speeches, left me speechless.
My colleagues seeing I was serious about my request assured me it wouldn’t happen. Until it did.
On my last day in that office, I got back from lunch to a sea of smiling faces and general whoop whooping and cries of ‘speech, speech.’ Shit, not only did I have to endure words from my colleagues (and some people I’m sure I had never seen during my tenure), I had to say stuff as well?
That’s when then whole thing went wrong. My public speaking credentials did not save me as I started to talk about the things and people I would miss… and the things and people I would not. The more my brain kept urging me to STOP TALKING, the more I prattled on dishing out plaudits and offence in unequal measure. You do the math.
That’s the ugly.
However, I don’t know if age has changed me, because this week I got back from the bathroom after a big work event and some of my colleagues had left flowers on my desk by way of a ‘Thank you.’
And the surprising thing? The surprising thing is I just felt humble and grateful that a group of people thought enough of me to spend money coins on saying such a lovely thank you.
So this week, I’m not going to carp on about how much I hate surprises. I’m going the other way and embracing all of life’s surprises from now on since they are sent to teach us something about life and ourselves. Teachings that can only wake us up when we don’t see them coming.