It’s been a week full of surprises. This morning, for example, I woke up before Mike. Then I suggested we go for a walk, so we covered 4km before 8am with Mike uncharacteristically dragging himself along beside me instead of bouncing like Tiger at being outside on such a gorgeous morning. We came across a wallaby along the way. It was standing in the middle of the road listening to our approaching steps, and then it bounded off into the brush as soon as we rounded the corner. That’s about five surprises before 8am.

Last week in Tasmania we saw plenty of wallabies – on beaches, in parks, all over the place. We also surprised a wombat and it also headed straight for the brush, but as it was built like a big furry cask on tiny legs it didn’t bound, it waddled. There were a bunch of other surprises in Tasmania too. When we got to Coles Bay in Freycinet we found that half the town had burned down the night before (in a town that size the gas station, a convenience store, and a restaurant, is half the town). And after we toured the Cadbury Factory and ate every free sample we were offered, then ordered something that was advertised as “the world’s best hot chocolate” (which turned out to be more than half a glass full of chocolate shavings melted in hot mik), we felt sick. In retrospect, perhaps that shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

When we got to Ballina on Saturday, however, we received by far the biggest surprise of the week. My brother, Matt, and his wife, Lou, picked us up from the airport in the Gold Coast and when we got down here and walked into the house who should come down the stairs but my sister, Michelle, and my niece, Tahlia, who were supposed to be spending this Christmas in Washington DC! Michelle had managed to organize last minute tickets and flown home, surprising all of us (including my parents, whose 39th wedding anniversary it was that day). It was a total surprise-coup.

We talked about surprises that night around the dinner table. Did we like to give them? Did we like to be on the receiving end?

Matt, it turns out, likes to get surprises when he doesn’t know they’re coming, but if he knows a surprise is in the air but isn’t sure what might be heading his way he’s not much of a fan. Mum said she liked giving surprises, but not getting them. Mike liked to both give and receive surprises.

“I tend to plant the seeds now that a surprise is in the offing with you,” Mike said to me. “Because when I’ve completely surprised you in the past it hasn’t always gone over so well.”

“Like when you asked me to marry you after we’d spent a grand total of 20 days in the same country,” I said. “That surprise? Yeah. It turned out OK in the end though, didn’t it?”

The opinion was floated that people who like to give others surprises all the time have a high need to control others, and that people who don’t like getting surprises at all have a fairly high need for staying in control of themselves. What do you think? And do you like giving surprises, or getting them?

6 responses to “Surprise!

  1. Well, it seems I fall into the controlling category! I like giving other people surprises, though I often do some preparing. (Not always though!)

    And I don’t much like being surprised. Actually, it depends on who’s doing the surprising. There’s a certain vulnerability in being surprised. And if there’s a high level of trust and I’m comfortable being vulnerable with someone, the surprise is a little more welcome. I love surprises from my husband! Though he’s probably learned over time (the hard way) what I like (and don’t like) so knows which surprises are welcome.

    Sometimes it’s pure practicality that make s surprise less welcome. Like having 3 major assignments due Mon and having a cousin turn up to visit unexpectedly on Fri afternoon. Just when that dinner was finishing, the doorbell rang and “surprise” it was my sister coming from interstate to stay and hang out for the weekend! I wasn’t as joyful as she’d expected. 🙂

    P.S. I really enjoy your blog Lisa. Sounds like you’re having a great holiday!

    • We did have a great holiday, thanks! And, yes, I agree there is a certain vulnerability to being surprised. And it takes a certain level of strength to carefully plan a surprise for someone and then give them room to react as they will, not necessarily as you may have WANTED them to react.

  2. Really interesting post and closing statement. I’m like Mike – enjoy giving and receiving surprises. So, from the surmise, I guess I like to control others but not myself? Uh-oh. Sounds like trouble.

  3. I love surprises–when they’re good surprises. If it’s something that could go either way (like, oh, I don’t know–surprise, I lost my job?) I need to be prepared for it. But having you show up at my door unexpectedly would be a wonderful surprise, Lisa! I’d ply you with dark chocolate and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and ice cream. Someday… 😉

    • Someday indeed. I live in hope. If you showed up at my door I’d ply you with sticky rice and delicious Lao food :). Maybe you should set your next book in Lao and pitch a research trip to your publisher???

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