“In fact, our whole inner life is woven with such minimal surprises of non-sense: they actually are the tissue of our inner life, thus generating its genuine creativity.”
(Depraz, 2014, pp. 130-131)
I was reading a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip the other day. Calvin was standing by the school bus stop waiting for it to arrive. While he was waiting, Calvin randomly suggests to the universe that it would be a big surprise if the bus exploded and he didn’t have to go to school. Of course, the bus arrives and the grumpy Calvin mutters to himself from within that life is full of surprises, except when you need one.
Do you ever feel that way?
I know I do.
The last couple of weeks have been one series of surprises that did not make sense. I mean, they made sense, but their sense did not compute with the logical plan I had created in my mind. They were unexpected.
A surprise deadline. A surprise family emergency. A surprise email.
They just kept coming.
But, then again, so did the creativity.
You see, in responding to the demands of these various surprises, I actually surprised myself.
Faced with several problems, I had to decide whether I was going to give up or try to be a part of the solution.
And to be honest, at the time it did not feel like there was a clear solution.
At the time, it felt like there wasn’t even a point in trying.
Luckily for me, I know that feelings are not the greatest indicators of success.
I also know that they are warning signs. Warning signs that you need help in facing the situation. Warning that you need accountability so that you will not give up. Warning that your mind can only hold back the wave of crazy emotions for so long, before the damn will burst and cause all sorts of disaster.
So I did the smart thing. I called my friends.
Because, whether good or bad, it is best not to face surprises alone.
And you know what? My friends surprised me.
Amidst the busyness of their own crazy schedules, they made time to help me.
Their willingness to support me inspired me–it motivated me.
Out of their kindness, I was able to create alternative plans, alternative options, alternative thoughts.
I was able to see the solution and find a way out of the problematic maze. One step after another, I found myself making progress. Inch by inch, I traversed the ground of productivity.
All the while, thinking how wonderful it is to be surprised by love. To be surprised by kindness.
You see, when kindness is the tissue of our inner life, it weaves beautiful stories.
It creates friendships. Moments. Realizations.
Realizations that, no matter what unpleasant surprise awaits you on any given day, there are pleasant people who can help you face it.
The school bus may come, but on it are a number of people, all of whom have the potential to surprise you with their encouragement and support.
I am extremely grateful for the gift of my imagination and the creativity it allows me.
But I am even more grateful that I have never had to imagine my friends into existence. The tigers who stand beside me, listen to my nonsense, laugh with me, cry with me, and play with me, are all very real.
Whatever surprises come my way, I know that they are best shared with them.
So if you find yourself at the bus stop today hoping that it will not arrive, take heart: surprises are opportunities to create.
You might not get the one you hope for today, but you might just get the chance to be one for someone else.
We all need someone to sit beside on the bus. We all need lovable tigers.
So what are you waiting for?
The world needs a wonderful surprise just like you.