Image by The Silver Penguin

Recently a friend of mine, who we’ll call Ada, moved from Sydney to Hobart. Sydney is busy and expensive with a moderate climate. Hobart has a slower pace, is far more affordable and much colder.

Ada didn’t like Sydney much and found Hobart a much better place to live. The suburb where she lived had lots of trees and was close to a nice walk beside the river. She also moved in with a friend while settling in to Hobart and her friend introduced her to a social network so that the usual isolation of moving to a new place wasn’t a problem.

It was then that Ada discovered that she wanted to be close to a couple of members of her extended family. This was even more of a surprise because Ada had been badly physically and sexually abused as a child, and so didn’t have any of the usual positive feeling connected with the word ‘family’. The people she’d been close to had been supportive and had not been involved in the abuse – but somehow there were positive feelings about them being family in the mix somewhere. This was so weird that Ada couldn’t even figure out what was going on for a couple of days. Then, once she did understand what was happening it took more time to accept it: she hated all the usual gush about families being good (her experience was that they could be horrific) – so where were these feelings coming from? They weren’t right!

Gradually Ada realised that her experience with this part of her extended family had been positive. And that this was even more important to her, in some ways, because of the abuse she had suffered from her immediate family. Gradually she understood what was going on, and decided to move from Hobart to be closer to her extended family.

I find surprises like this intriguing. They are things we can’t anticipate. I don’t think my friend would have discovered her feeling for family if she hadn’t moved to Hobart. It’s intriguing too that there can be quite deep parts of ourselves that we don’t know about. We surprise ourselves. There is more to us than we are conscious of.

The surprises can be small things too. Perhaps, like me, you have had the experience of hearing yourself saying something, and wondering, “Where did that come from? I don’t think that – do I?”

If we can listen to these surprises we get to know ourselves better. Though it can take us a little while to get used to the idea.

How about you? Have you had times where you have surprised yourself? Did you learn something about yourself from this experience. I’d love to hear in the comments.

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2 Comments to “Surprise!”

  1. Barbara says:

    Hi Evan,

    It seems I surprise myself all the time! However the nature of my surprises don’t seem to have as pleasant and as profound an experience Ada has had with her move.

    The most recent experience I had was a review class a couple weeks ago. I am taking a 2 1/2 year course and to keep us on track, during the time off between course curriculum, we have one day intensives, reviews of previous material.

    The first half of the day, lecture, technical details and general review. The second half of the day, practical application, working with fellow students and a supervisor.

    I thought the morning went well. I did seem to have fairly good recall, had not ‘lost’ any info in the year since I had studied this work. I felt confident the afternoon would go smoothly.

    First surprise. I failed, plain and simple. I was what you might call miserable. I had work to do.

    It’s now two weeks later and I got the second surprise. The best thing that could have happened was failing this review class. It took until now to realize it, however. The time to fail is while I’m still in school, address it now, find out what I could do should this happen in a real life application. Had this failure occurred while I was out on my own, I would not have been prepared or maybe even aware of this possibility. And certainly might be at a loss for a solution. Now, I have the chance to meet with my instructor and get some input.

    Re-doing the review class, I guess is my third surprise, wasn’t expecting that would be on my calendar.

  2. Evan says:

    Thanks for your comment Barbara.

    As you point out the surprise can seem unpleasant at first. I’m glad that with your positive attitude you turned it around.

    And I hope you keep enjoying the classes.

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