Little surprises

I walked out of my office building the other day to my car with a million thoughts in my head. I had errands to run and my day was packed. I would have to be quick. I reached into my jacket for my keys and pulled out a $10 bill that I had forgotten that I had put there.

You would have thought I just won the lottery or was getting ready to go on a 10-day Caribbean cruise. My problems disappeared. I had a bounce to my step. I was a new man: all over a silly $10 that I promptly planned to spend on a large cup of coffee.


It’s funny how little surprises like that can have a big effect. I’ve been thinking about a few of them:

–The first falling snowflake with more on the way; an empty calendar, meaning you don’t have to be anywhere for the next 24 hours; a house full of full of kids and the snow emergency staples — milk, bread, and water; and winter jackets, boots, gloves, sled ready at the beck and call.

–A clear commute with no tie-ups or delays.

–Finding your favorite shirt that you thought you had misplaced in a Goodwill bag, but finding it instead in the rear of your bedroom closet.

–A thank you note from a friend or coworker. It could be about anything, but like grandma used to say ‘it’s the thought that counts.’


–Someone else surprising you by filling-up your car with a full tank of gas.

–Playing hooky on the first spring-like day of winter.

–Someone leaving a piece of chocolate on your desk.

–A better than expected workout. You feel fresher or more rested than you expected and finish lifting, running, biking, swimming better than you planned.

–Coming across a long-lost family picture that automatically takes you back to another time another place. For me recently two pictures played that role: the first one taken a few years ago of my youngest son beating me at chess, probably the first time he ever beat me, and the second one was a rare professional picture of me taken around my first birthday. I’m full of dimples and tears, not quite sure what to make of the photographer. I was instantly carried away to a much younger version of myself.


–A can’t-put-me-down book.  

–Opening your email to find a note from a college friend you haven’t heard from in 20 years.

We all have little surprises. They won’t change the world, they won’t bring about world peace, but the beauty is the change they have on us.

My favorite small surprise that actually happens pretty regularly, but still surprises me everytime it does and makes me appreciate it all the more: When my sons, who are at that age where they supposedly are too big for “hugs good night,” still end up giving me a hug at the end of the day. Yes, it’s always a nice surprise!

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