Everyone knows that surprises are never ambivalent- rather a surprise is always polarized. Either the surprise is wonderful, pleasant, and happy or unpleasant, shocking, and upsetting. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.
This morning I enjoyed a pleasant surprise: some inexpensive yarn I had gotten is knitting up in a way that surprised me. I have used yarn from this company often but had never used this particular kind. Recently I bought enough of a light silver grey to knit a sweater. It was affordable and seemed like a good idea at the time. I had no idea how the yarn would turn out when knit. In the skein it wasn’t what I would call remarkable; it wasn’t one of the yarns that make you go bonkers over how soft it is. It is just wool. Worsted weight, two ply wool. Winding it into a ball I noticed that it seemed airy but still didn’t notice anything remarkable. Then I cast on for the sweater- amazing! It knits up with a nice drape and is softer than I would have expected. It was surprising and made dealing with some issues at work that much easier since I knew sitting on my desk was the beginning of a sweater that is thoroughly exciting.
A few weeks ago though I experienced the opposite kind of surprise. It was scary, unpleasant, and, dare I say, gross. I had entered a show. It was a big deal for me since it wasn’t at my barn and was USEF recognized. I had been working towards going to a show like it for a couple years now. It seemed the stars were aligned and I would finally get my chance to do a recognized dressage show away from home. Earlier in the week my horse had a lump on his nose. It seemed like perhaps a bad reaction to a fly bite so I treated it and thought everything was fine. I did many loads of laundry, bought my horse shipping boots and a day sheet (finally!), had his standing wraps ready and shavings for the stall. I managed to load two bales of hay into my trailer by myself; I was ready to load up and have a nice long weekend sleeping in my trailer and enjoying the horse show. It didn’t happen. The lump had exploded. That is the best way I can put it. What had been just a swollen lump that seemed so minor had turned into a giant open sore overnight. I called my vet and he said there was nothing he could do. But we couldn’t show with an open sore right on my horse’s nose. I treated it as aggressively as I could and then parked the trailer and went home.
I was able to do a show at my barn the next weekend. It turned out my horse had been bitten by a velvet ant or a brown recluse spider. He has a little white smudge on his nose now where the bite was and aside from me panicking a little every time he has even a tiny fly bite now, there have been no ill effects. I know I actually was very lucky- horses seem to have a sixth sense for finding the worst time to get injured. I know more than a few horses that have had far worse injuries this summer. But even unpleasant surprises and little things can have a way of making us thankful for the little things: getting to ride my horse, the fact that miraculously he is sound, that we have come so far as to even be trying to do the larger shows in the area.
Regardless of what kind of surprise we get we can let it help us see details we might miss. I am definitely not a great optimist naturally but even unpleasant surprises can help us get through the mundane- if only by making us grateful that the mundane is so much more pleasant than the catastrophic! Until next time- RAWR!