I love surprises, and I really enjoy surprising others, too. It’s one of those treasures in life that should never be abandoned. To really catch someone unexpectedly, you need to be awake and sensitive to what they say and do when they’re with you. “Waking up” is a continuous process. There’s no limit to your awareness, but it takes practice. How many of us have lived or worked with someone for years who has to keep asking us how we like our coffee. You wonder if they would remember your name if they had to take you to the emergency room. The poet Kabir expresses this idea very well: “If you are in a deep sleep, why waste time smoothing the bed and arranging the pillows?” It takes the ability to listen and be fully present in conversation so you’re able to recall the things that please others. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or complicated; in fact, it’s the insignificant details that truly delight people. To remember how a certain individuals take their coffee or what their favorite colors are means that you care and you’ve paid attention—you’re awake! Similarly, you need to remain open to the surprises that occur in your life. They can be lovely gestures from others, and sometimes they’ll be nothing more than a sudden appreciation of something new and wonderful. There’s a profound side to living a life full of surprise: It can spur your ability to be grateful. To act as if each day has wonderful unknown opportunities opens the door to being thankful and feeling happiness. I’ve watched many children clap their hands gleefully at a butterfly, flower, or rainbow—it’s the merry delight in the unexpected that they’re experiencing. What’s really great about kids is that they are surprised repeatedly over the same thing, however, our culture is making it more and more difficult for this to continue, since anything new becomes old very quickly. I have grown to greatly appreciate the surprise of finding my mate has emptied the dishwasher, cleaned the countertops and vacuumed the crumbs off the kitchen floor. I am totally surprised and delighted when I sleep through the night and when I can still fit in some of the clothes. It makes for a really good day. Try to fill your life with surprise and don’t allow cynicism to become your ally, for it will only age you quickly…then the only surprise you’ll get is an early death
I am reticent to admit that there are days when I spend time fixated at looking at myself in the mirror. I just can’t believe what’s happening! My body is starting to look just like my mothers. The irony is that she never exercised a day of her life, ate pretty much what she wanted, never took supplements or meditated. In fact she would often get angry and throw stuff around, drink wine every night, and stress was her constant companion. She lived to be ninety-nine. Her last several years were not the best, but for the majority of her life she was in good health and got around quite well. In fact she drove from Long Island where she lived alone till she was ninety , to my home in Plymouth. I was always amazed at how she got here intact or that she had not left a wake of car accidents, since she was totally afraid of driving. I on the other hand exercised myself into a coma, tried to eat so-called healthy foods, and learned to meditate. My career, teaching people how to manage their stress was my best teacher, but none of the aforementioned curtailed the onslaught of joint problems that have become a part of my journey. Also none of what I did exercise wise has kept my body looking any different from my mothers. She would often say that as you get older you get the furniture disease. That’s when your chest falls into your drawers. She was spot on. Despite all of her so-called dysfunctional habits, she had a sense of humor ,albeit dark and often cynical, that seemed to help her cope with aging and the problems it brings with it. She would often laugh at me when I told her to exercise as if she already knew what I was in for. My humor is less dark, but it seems to continue to be available even when I’ve been faced with the news that I need two knee replacements and a possible shoulder replacement. I figure I may go bye-bye, but some of my parts will be around forever. Since none of us are going to get out of here alive, it’s probably a good idea to spend as much time as possible exercising your funny rather than your fanny.