Day Three Surprise from Wild Musings with Renee Magnusson Peaceful & Easy Feelings
Oh I love surprises! And I can remember exactly the time when I decided to let even more surprise into my life. As a child (a child spoiled with lots of presents!) I used to hunt down the hiding places for my Christmas pressies. I became really good at being sneaky and replacing everything just so. No one caught on for years. I’m not sure why I did this—partly the thrill of being sneaky I think but also not being able to handle the suspense of waiting perhaps. Anyway, I never fully opened the packages (never opened them if they were gift-wrapped) but just peered through the plastic bags. This way it didn’t fully feel like cheating.
One Christmas (I just googled what year it must have been and I must have been 13! I thought I’d stopped doing this much earlier!) I went through the usual hiding spots and came across an LP. I smoothed out the plastic bag. Cilla Black! It looked like Cilla Black. My heart sank. Cilla Black was a popular middle-of-the-road singer, the kind my parents liked. I didn’t dislike her but really…Cilla Black? I couldn’t read her name, the record store logo covered most of the bag, but yes, through the plastic it looked like her silhouette. I wondered if it could be for someone else but didn’t think so. I tucked it back exactly as I’d found it and rehearsed how surprised I’d have to pretend to be when I opened it. Surprised and not disappointed. It had been drummed into me to always be appreciative of the gifts I got, no matter what I thought of them. Someone had gone to a lot of time and trouble to buy them.
On Christmas Day I easily spotted the wrapped LP. As I unwrapped it, practising my surprised act, I saw Mam and Dad share a smile as if this was a great gift, as if they’d outdone themselves in choosing it for me. I opened it expecting to see Cilla’s face grinning at me. Instead I saw Alvin Stardust, one of my absolute favourite singers! I’m sure I gasped with delight. I was completely surprised. No acting needed! Mam and Dad laughed, no doubt pleased by my authentic reaction and if high fives were a thing back then I’m sure they’d have high-fived.
That high of being genuinely surprised was enough to make me never peek again at gifts. To the point where I keep early gifts wrapped for weeks, if necessary until the actual date of the event. A parcel arrived from one of my British friends the other day and I knew it was for Christmas. I left it in its brown paper packaging until I checked with her that yes, it is wrapped with Christmas paper inside so I can safely open the brown paper. I never want to know what happens in a book or movie before I watch it. Let me be surprised, please.
This morning I thought of copying out Renee’s list of prompts so that I would know what was coming on each day so I knew how to label the files to save them ahead of time. But the thought didn’t linger long. I had tried not to read the list and certainly blocked out remembering it so that each day’s prompt is a surprise.
Part of the joy of haiku, both in reading it and trying to create a good one, is that element of surprise with the juxtaposition of remotely related ideas, that jump from something specific to something broader or vice versa. I think this challenge of finding that link, that surprise, is what keeps my interest in writing them.
These days, my favourite surprises are serendipitous ones like the peace card which arrived yesterday on ‘peace’ day. I keep my antennae tuned for those.
I arrange readings for a writing organisation in town. The readings are by local writers of varying standards giving them a chance to see how others react to their work: are people gasping when they should? laughing at the right place? etc. The readings themselves often have their own surprises. One woman I had to coax to read stunned everyone with the depth and intensity of both her work and her reading itself on her mental health journey. Once a poet arrived just in time making us worry that she maybe wasn’t going to show at all. Because of this she read last. And read a poem that she had written just that morning, right after her father had died. Again, we were stunned and moved. And surprised. How could she even do that? Both the writing then the very public reading on such a day?
The monthly readings, now on zoom, happened tonight and all the stories were solidly written and compelling. But my favourite part of the readings comes at the end when I give out thank you cards (often from local artists) with money inside from the organisation. New readers had no clue they would get paid and I loved their surprised responses. With zoom, the treasurer now handles the money but I get to send ecards, again often a surprise especially to new readers. I love surprising people in pleasant ways as much as I can. There’s nothing like a good surprise to brighten a day.
Day 314 of 365 days of haiku
Three card Tarot spread
stepping stone into the day
rippled clouds float by
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.