Monday, May 21, 2007


As a coach, it's always gratifying to hear a client enumerate all the things he or she has accomplished. But last month, when one of my clients told me, “I've become accustomed to being surprised,” well, it just made me thrilled and proud. 

Surprises, yes, can be as unwelcome as waking up to three inches of snow in the middle of May or some other hurtful onslaught. But most often, a surprise is an unexpected feeling of wonder and astonishment that has been triggered by something we have come upon suddenly. Sometimes it can be startling, but generally we think of surprise as something good. There may be disbelief, but surprises are usually enveloped in amazement. And what a great way to be, expecting and becoming accustomed to being surprised. Surprises make our life so much more special.

For me, May is the month of surprises. It's morel mushroom season and so I spend even more time in the woods around my home. Any other month of the year, you can find me walking the dogs for an hour or two each day. During May, I clear the calendar a couple of days each week and take to the woods from sunup to sundown. So while racking up all that time and all those miles in the woods, I have plenty of opportunity to be surprised by wildlife, both flora and fauna, rarely seen. And I'm on the hunt for the elusive morel, never knowing when I'm going to walk around the other side of a tree and be surprised by a jumbo white morel. Or a whole patch of them!

There's something instinctual or intuitional about finding morels. Most often, I have a sense, a physical feeling, in my gut and heart, just prior to making the discovery. I notice I slow my pace and breathing and become more alert. I've noticed the same intensity just before a fish hits my lure. I've learned how to detect the oncoming surprises at a cellular level that does not take away from the surprise but, instead, enhances it. 

You can too. We're all capable of having these feelings or “hints” prior to being surprised. Most of us, however, don't notice them because we haven't practiced. When we practice an activity that involves hunting or searching for something, we more frequently have the opportunity to notice what we were feeling and sensing just prior to the discovery. Go on the hunt, I suggest. And become accustomed to being surprised. 

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” ~Ashley Montagu 

”Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.” ~Boris Pasternak

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