190. The Element of Surprise

The Element of Surprise || Ann Ning Learning How

I often tell my friends to tell me the names of people who give them a hard time so I can add them to my “list.”  I say that Leo and I intend to go “address the situation,” whatever it is, as soon as possible.  Leo’s pointy end is good at poking things, and as a disabled person I have the element of surprise on my side.  No one’s expecting me to get all Jack Bauer on you.  But my compromised social filter makes me less tolerant of poor behavior, and what I lack in form I can make up for with enthusiasm.  So shape up, people!!

Just kidding.  I’m not really going to beat anyone up.  Since I’m safest when sitting I’ll just sniff when we encounter a bad/aggressive driver and tell Mommy I’m thankful we’re not so terribly ill bred as to conceive of ever doing something like that. 

Theoretically, though, the element of surprise would allow me to sneak up on people if I physically could.  I can’t bear to be surprised now, but in the past I’ve relished the idea of surprise in a tamer form.

When I was an undergraduate English major one of my Professors, the one I followed around for most of my college life since he taught Austen’s texts, taught me an important life lesson – but I doubt if he knew it.  I think it was his first year of teaching, but I could tell he knew what he was doing, so I became his cult following of one.  Anyway, when he assigned our first paper (this was the first class I had taken with him) he asked each student to come to office hours and pitch their paper topic so we could get some feedback before diving into writing.

I obediently showed up at the appointed time and mumbled something about a character study of an interesting character in the book we were reading.  My Professor said it very nicely, and more eloquently, but his response boiled down to the quintessential marketing questions:  So what?  Who cares?

That was a pivotal moment.  It was the first time I considered that a professor has to read a bazillion papers, so you’d better have something to say for yourself when it came time for him/her to read yours.  I thought about it for a few more days and decided to change my topic entirely – to what, I can’t remember.  But I had the immensely gratifying experience of surprising us both by producing something my Professor felt was worth reading – whereas my first idea hadn’t sounded very promising.

That happened a long time ago – it’s been over a decade, actually.  But I have remembered it all these years because it was such an important part of my education.  I am so thankful professors like him made sure I could write before I left school.  Because I have something to say for myself now.  Lots of things, actually – and so I write about everything from banana bread to caring for a special needs child.

The sameness of my situation can be a drag sometimes.  When you need a change, people will often encourage you to get a new job or move to a new city.  This kind of self-directed lifestyle transformation is beyond my reach presently.  So I have to sit here and do what I can to exercise and get better.

But to keep me from getting discouraged, I keep a mental list of Divinely arranged surprises that have littered my path since my injury in April 2011.  One could call them coincidences, but there are too many of them – often too intricate not to suggest the forethought that went into the planning.  I had the joy of seeing DnA (my Oregonian parents) a couple weeks ago when they stopped in for a brief visit.  I was a bit nervous since I hadn’t seen them since I got sick, but it was very natural to see them around our dinner table.   And right before they drove off to the airport A gave me a word of encouragement:  “Love allowed this to happen.”

P.S.  Do you have a hard time reading that last phrase?  Did “Love” really allow this to happen?  I wasn’t sure for a while. But now I am – it’s why I write things like this.

And this:

67.  Happenstance

67. Happenstance

2 thoughts on “190. The Element of Surprise

  1. Your blog could win a prize for photos alone. 🙂
    Love reading that college experience, and I’m so glad that professor prepared you to do what you’re doing… because you’re doing it very well.
    I like your mental list idea. It’s easy (for me) to get caught up in circumstances or emotions, and not appreciate the bigger picture of how God has preserved, blessed, provided for me. I may need to write my list down, though, where I can see and not forget it..

  2. I have no issues with reading it, but there are days when my heart says differently. That’s when I must trust my mind and what I’ve read. I guess that’s where faith comes into play … believing that our heartaches are such a small part of our infinite life … and that God’s plan stretches way past our moment of pain and grief into that infinite part. I guess ultimately, our only option is to trust the love in that plan since it did allow the grief to happen.

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