Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.
Landing on the lawn an exotic outsider
Stalks foreign land Like a wary and weary traveller.
You were already there
When I peered from the window
Tired, unwired and bleary eyed.
The deferential crows kept their distance
In the presence of such unfamiliar elegance.
A bowed head, feathered scrolls unfurl
Tighten and sweep
The ashen body to the roof.
For the spellbound garden
To take in the languid visitor
Before he dips out of sight
Into next door.
This year lots of things I didn’t expect happened to me.
Some of them were quite wonderful surprises and some others left me with a sharp taste of lurching disappointment. But did they have something in common?
Since school began, years have often slotted into a pattern of familiar motions and emotions, while the different interactions and tiny experiences we have on a daily and weekly basis keep life fresh and entertaining. This year was one of those years that handed out new experiences and challenges from every angle: social, academic, professional, and emotional.
I have always been wary of unexpected things – the word conjures thoughts of helplessness and being caught off guard. We make expectations all the time, perhaps too many; they form our anxieties, our aspirations, and our eventual surprise when the rug is pulled from under us and the little plan we etched in our heads is distorted. But those moments are important for teaching us what it is we really want or what we can achieve. People always say nothing ever works out the way you plan, but that’s probably one of those maxims that everyone needs to experience themselves before properly appreciating and believing it.
What I’ve learnt is that setbacks bring new options, and that the unexpected, uncontrollable element of life is what keeps things interesting.
The outside world and our immediate environments are saturated with stuff that sweeps past our sensory windows and only to barely register on our desensitised minds, drowning already in to-do lists, political apathy, and outrage at Miley Cyrus. The unexpected stuff is what we crave. Novelty – in the form of language, images, and stories – keeps us on our toes and threatens to turn the odd head, and that is a great thing. Unexpected events, good and bad, can teach us things that we would probably never ordinarily discover. So that’s why we shouldn’t just expect the unexpected, we should demand it.