Surprise! It's Life


Most movies are really predictable. There are even movies I watch where I can tell you exactly what's going to happen in the rest of the movie by watching the first five minutes. Being predictable doesn't necessarily make a movie bad--there are dozens of reasons to enjoy a movie--but when you come across a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat because you have no idea what will happen next? That's a great movie.

The best example of a movie like this that I've seen is District 9. I won't go into any plot points here (because I already tried and can't help writing an effusive movie review instead of whatever this blog post is supposed to be about), but I'll say this--when I first watched the movie, I had no idea what was going to happen next. Throughout the entire movie, each twist and turn was completely new and unexpected.

I loved that feeling. It made for an awesome movie experience.

Do you know when I hate that feeling? When it comes to my life.

Don't get me wrong. I love the little surprises--surprise parties, surprise gifts, surprise visits (from the right people, anyway), surprise twenty-dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans. When it comes to the big stuff in life, though, I find myself trying to push down the anxiety, fear, and frustration that come with not knowing what tomorrow brings.

I'm a case study in contradiction. The last time I went snowboarding two weekends ago, it was dark out, and the weather started to get wet and misty. There was a fog on the mountain that kept us from seeing farther than ten, fifteen yards.

My friend said to me, "This is rough."

My response?

"This is amazing." I loved the thrill and adventure of having to make some split-second decisions as a turn, or another person, or a tree broke through the curtain of white fog ahead.

Easy when it's snowboarding. But if I'm faced with something that actually matters in life, and I can't see through the fog, I start to squirm. I feel uneasy. I want to know what happens. I want to know what to expect. I want to know that I can make certain decisions and not fly off the turn or crash into a tree.

Today, I'm reminded of movies like District 9 and the value of surprise. The best stories are the ones where you can't see what's coming. Not like I have a choice anyway--life will be full of surprises. We can't avoid that. We can plan all we want, but life doesn't like to be bottled up and stored on our organized shelves.

Tomorrow, next week, next year, we may be working at a job we did not see coming. We may be living in a place we never thought we'd live. We might be in friendships and relationships that never could have been predicted. Good or bad, surprises are an inescapable part of life.

Today, I'm committing to embrace the twists and turns, the mystery and intrigue of tomorrow. Because I want a great story, and the best stories are full of surprises.