Town Hall
28 Feb 2004
Ben's Seminar
Surprise (Part 2)

Ben: ALL: Last time we looked at the personal experience of being surprised. This time we will look at the act of surprising someone else (by "someone" I mean a person or people, an animal or animals -- any sapient being or group). I have three questions, and will include a brief explanation with each question.

Ben: QUESTION 1: Causing someone to be surprised can be accidental or intentional. What comes to mind as an example in which you or someone else ACCIDENTALLY caused someone or something to be surprised? YOUR TURN

alremkin: #1. I'm going to have to think about this for awhile.

Ben: alremkin: OK, thinking is encouraged here. *S*

TexasBelles: {{{{Ben}}} I just on purpose surprised my nephew by telling him it was his turn to do the dishes because I had a seminar to attend *LOL*

Ben: TexasBelles: OK, that was an intentional surprise.

TexasBelles: as my daughter used to say as a three year old ... I did it on a akkadent.

greyman: The most recent accidentally caused surprise was when I told my Mother I saw my Grandfather in the early 60's. He passed away in 1958.

Ben: greyman: Well ... you might surprise a lot of people by telling them things like that. *S*

alremkin: greyman: Was there a message or some reason that you know of for his return?

greyman: alremkin: Not in words. We had a special bond and I think he just stopped by to see how things were doing.

alremkin: #1. OK, this is kind of simple, but someone from our Condo Strata was talking to me, and my cat went out into the hallway. I didn't want her out there or getting used to being out there to avoid any problems, so I clapped my hands once loudly and she, my cat, ran back into my suite. The council member was surprised how my cat acted and said I have her well trained, but all it is, is that when she's frightened, that time by the sound of my hand clap, she went back to where she feels safe inside.

Ben: alremkin : Good example. Thanks. You didn't intend to surprise the council member.

alremkin: Ben: No I didn't intend to surprise the council member, just wanted to get my cat to go inside with the least amount of difficulty.

Ben: When my boys were young, I bought them a Van de Graaff electrostatic generator. We had a sort of octopus made of yarn that we put on top of it. When it was charged, all the yarn legs stood up and spread away from each other. One day, a neighbor lady knocked on the door and walked in. The instant she stepped on the rug, that yarn octopus leaped from the generator, flew ten feet across the room, and pasted itself on her chest. From the expression on her face, I thought she was going to have a heart attack. I ran to her and said "It's a toy! Just a toy! It won't hurt you!" She sat in the nearest chair for quite a long time before she regained her composure.

FRAML: Walking up behind a co-worker and saying "hi" when they have their back turned in their cubicle and are concentrating on something.

Ben: FRAML: Yep, that's a good example. Sometimes they almost levitate.

greyman: FRAML: Yeah depending on how deep in thought the person is, seems to be proportional to how high they jump out of their seat. :)

FRAML: And folks are amazed to see me go a couple inches above my chair when they do it to me.

Tigerlily: We surprise co workers all the time with little mini birthday parties and going away parties. I surprise my mother a couple of time a month by showing up when she's not expecting it.

rhiannon: 95% of what I do involves teaching horses not to be surprised ... desensitization ... horsemen hate surprises ... they often end up badly ... of course, horses are surprised by the most common things ... trash cans ... mail boxes ... chipmunks ... a new hat ... a funny smell ... a squeaky gate. People, mostly of the under 30 male persuasion, like to throw things or holler or spit stones off their tires when they pass horses on the road ... it almost always surprises them ...

Ben: rhiannon: Yes, it can be all too easy to accidentally surprise horses.

rhiannon: I don't ride on public roads anymore ... not even dirt ... I stay to the woods anymore ...

alremkin: rhiannon: When you mention horse surprises, I recall a time when a horseman I met in the back country told me about traveling on a trail with his pack string and encountering a yellow jackets' nest in the trail under a tree root. He said it took several hours to first calm the horses and then gather up their loads strewn over the mountain side.

rhiannon: mmmm ... campfire stories are rife with wrecks survived, alremkin ... and recovered and salvaged ...  folks are always surprised when a pack mule rolls down a rock face with all the grub ...

Ben: QUESTION 2: INTENTIONALLY causing someone to be surprised almost always includes the intention to please or displease. What comes to mind as an example in which you or someone else intentionally caused an UNPLEASANT surprise? YOUR TURN

Tigerlily: I wrote a newspaper article with a piece of information that was quite surprising, and I knew it was going to displease some people, especially one person.

Ben: Tigerlily: Good example. Thank you.

Tigerlily: Ben: I have a really hard time with that part of my job, even though I think it's good for a lot of information to get out, sometimes it displeases people and I would not want it to hurt people.

Ben: Tigerlily: Yes, I understand. From your previous post, I know your preference for surprising people will be good an answer to my third question.

FRAML: blank for now

TexasBelles: These questions are difficult for me, Ben, as I consider myself a very calm and deliberate person for the most part.

greyman: Oh, they say confession is good for the soul and bad for the reputation. When I was in grade school I deliberately got a "bad" report card. That caused an unpleasant surprise for my parents at the time.

Ben: greyman: Why did you intentionally get a bad report card? To surprise them by proving it was possible? *S*

TexasBelles: Aha! greyman's one rebellious moment, I assume. *s* {{{greyman}}}

greyman: Ben: It was not as intentional as it sounds. Maryland grade schools at the time used symbol/pattern recognition, and Texas schools used phonics. When my father was transferred to Randolph AFB, it was as if I was behind a year in school. A big unpleasant surprise for all concerned.

Ben: greyman: Well, I'll bet that bad report card got somebody's attention. Which I would guess wasn't accidental.

Tigerlily: I am surprised all the time on the job ... much of it is negative ... such as when a mistake is made unintentionally and there has to be a correction printed ... some of it is wonderful ... I find out because of something I have written about someone's life was changed quite positively ... I am realizing that if it weren't for this discussion, I would not have really consciously realized how many surprises I live with daily.

Ben: There are endless examples of someone intentionally causing unpleasant surprise. Pearl Harbor. Battle of the Bulge. Hiroshima. End run at Inchon. Tet offensive. Attacks on 9/11. Many political maneuvers are designed to surprise the opposition. You may want to expand on this list.

rhiannon: That's a heavy duty list ... but ... Bay of Pigs ... Ticonderoga ...

Tigerlily: so the intentional kind of surprises ... some of them seem criminal or pathological

alremkin: #2. I was training a guy to be an underground utility locator with a metal detector, a rugby player, a brutish fellow who likes to consider himself rough. So my surprise ... I took from the Mel Gibson movie about Viet Nam where they urinated on the mortar tubes to cool them during battle. What I did was urinate into an empty slurpee cup and pour in onto the ground plate of the metal detector to help ground it since it was summer and the soil was dry making for poor grounding conditions. Well, you should have seen the look on his face when he realized what I had done! LOL. It was really funny, but he didn't say a word to me. That night he complained to the boss and they convened the kangaroo court and gave me a discipline letter.

TexasBelles: alremkin: That story surprises me, that your company didn't stick up better FOR you ...

Ben: alremkin: Some people just don't appreciate ingenuity. I think it was a great idea, and would have said so.

FRAML: alremkin: So you literally p****ed off your coworker. Interesting.

alremkin: I don't know why, but some people seem to think I have an off beat sense of humor.

rhiannon: Better to be p'ed off than p'ed on ...

Ben: QUESTION 3: What comes to mind as an example in which you or someone else intentionally caused a PLEASANT surprise? YOUR TURN

rhiannon: When someone graciously lets me make a left in front of them ...

Ben: rhiannon: AND when YOU graciously let someone make a left turn in front of you. Or slow or stop to let someone enter traffic from a side street when it would otherwise be impossible. *S*

rhiannon: Oh ... I do that stuff all the time, Ben ... that doesn't surprise me ... but the world has gotten so rude, it really does surprise other people when you are polite.

Tigerlily: intentional surprise ... a couple of years ago my son was in a very hard place and I knew we could use some separation. I bought him a greyhound bus pass and he used it to travel out West to visit friends. Then we met in Denver at a family event. It eased tension and I think made him think, "Hey my mom is kind of cool."

FRAML: A few weeks after I started my new job, being told by my division chief, that he made his decision to select me when he saw my application in the group sent from personnel, and he didn't interview anyone at all. He said he knew I had the subject knowledge and people skills he was looking for.

TexasBelles: A nice compliment on your expertise, FRAML

alremkin: #3. The year was '68 there was a group of us living in a house in Berkley. A friend and I started talking about some people we knew and liked very much who lived in New York City and had visited us in California for a few months and then went back to NYC and had been there a couple of months. My friend said, " I think I will give them a call." When he went and picked up the phone, the friends he was about to call were already on line without the phone ringing.

Ben: A neighbor lady was having a lot of trouble with her teen-age daughter. They argued and quarreled most of the time. Then one morning the mother came to our house and said, "You'll never guess what my daughter did. Last night she came home after midnight and started making a lot of noise in the kitchen, rattling pots and pans. I was going to go tell her to stop, but I was so tired I just endured it and finally went back to sleep. This morning, I found a beautiful white cake with pink frosting and the words HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOTHER on the kitchen table. I woke her up and thanked her, but I couldn't even begin to tell her how much this means to me." As she said this, tears started running down her cheeks.

Tigerlily: Ben: What a great story!

Ben: Tigerlily: I knew you would like that story, because that is the kind of surprise you prefer to do.

Tigerlily: Ben: I can't wait to tell someone that story.

TexasBelles: A recent surprise for my daughter occurred when the two of us were on the verge of a fallout because she was scheduled for a colonoscopy 36 miles from home and the weather surprised the entire countryside with black ice BUT SHE WAS GOING TO GO ANYWAY ... then her doctor's office called and said that he had been called home to India on an emergency ... a whole string of surprises here that worked to keep her safe at home.

greyman: Recently my Mother told me a day before my Father passed away that he pointed to her then to himself and then straight up. He could not talk, but his message came in loud and clear. That kind of assurance pleasantly touches the heart. At least mine.

TexasBelles: {{{{greyman}}}}

Ben: greyman: Yes. Your father surprised and pleased me, too, when I visited him in the hospital. Just before I left, he raised his hand and said, "God bless you."

Tigerlily: I have to go pick my son up from work, but I'll read back to see what every one else said ... and I was just SURPRISED while watching Forrest Gump (it's on TV right now) ... I didn't remember that Forrest got married and had a baby ... it was fun to see that again.

Ben: SUMMARY: We can surprise others accidentally or intentionally. Their experience of being surprised depends on what they expect, and it can be pleasant or unpleasant or neither, depending on what they like or dislike. To intentionally surprise someone almost always includes the intention to please or displease that person. Planning and causing unpleasant surprise is typical of warfare and politics; this is how people treat their enemies. Planning and causing pleasant surprise is typical of individuals who give parties and gifts and unexpected assistance; this is how they treat their friends.

Ben: ALL: This is the end of the hour. I invite your continued discussion of the act (or the art) of surprising someone. YOUR TURN

FRAML: I guess I surprised folks by not participating in the Warm Nights program this year, even though I told everyone that I was not going to be around to work on it because of a prior commitment. I guess that was an unpleasant surprise when they found out that I really meant what I said.

Ben: FRAML: Well, it may have surprise some people, but you told everyone in advance you wouldn't be there, so they should have expected it.

alremkin: FRAML: What is the Warm Nights program?

Ben: Comment: military strategy and tactics can be described as the art of making the enemy experience unpleasant surprises.

TexasBelles: Yopo went to visit his mom this weekend and couldn't be here ... and Awenydd's new baby helped bring his folks to visit so I'm sure he has his hands full with a few things to do ... including scout meeting tonite.

FRAML: Who is the joker who keeps posting "the oracle says" to me?

alremkin: FRAML: I think "The Oracle says" is an automated feature of this chat, but that's just a guess.

rhiannon: the oracle generates random quotes from a list which you may add to if you wish, FRAML ...

Ben: FRAML: The Oracle is an automatic feature of GroveChat, not a private message. I guess you can thank or blame Awenydd, depending on whether you like the Oracle or not.

FRAML: Oh ... that's why ignore function wouldn't work.

TexasBelles: I like the quotes ... and the source is given so you could consider it educational. *G* Actually, if you come in and there is no one around to chat with, you can refresh and read the Oracle for awhile ... might receive a pertinent answer to what is on your mind ... can't hurt anyway

via: Looks like I missed it again ...

rhiannon: via: We'll save it in the archive ...

via: I read some of what has been said and I am going to plan a wonderful surprise for my hubby ... been a long time since I have done that ...

Ben: via: That's a good idea! I hope your husband is pleasantly surprised.

via: Ben: I used to send flowers to his office ... the first time he was surprised ... I had the florist make a face on one of the large mums ... she put reading glasses on and put a pencil behind the ear ... everyone said it looked just like him ...

Ben: via: Sending flowers to your husband's office, with a face like his on one of the large mums. I like that example of intentional pleasant surprise.

via: Ben: If only we could keep that element of surprise in our lives ... thanks for reminding me ...

LEGS: That sounds ideal, via ... and most of us are far from that unfortunately ... however we can look for surprises in life around us ... seeking to surprise ourselves with gifts of beauty and kindnesses.

rhiannon: I'd be surprised if there was ice cream in the freezer ...

via: rhiannon: You must have children around ... my freezer always has ice cream since the children grew up ...

rhiannon: No children ... me and the dogs ... but I never buy it ... so I'd be real surprised if there was some ... in fact it would be downright spooky ...

via: Sending mental image of ice cream to rhiannon's freezer ... smile

alremkin: Ben: Is there another segment to this seminar or is this one the last?

Ben: alremkin: Would you like to have another segment on this topic? I think I fairly well covered it with my questions, but there is always more to explore.

Ben: Comment: I noticed that most of those present tonight didn't want to play with the concept (or examples) of intentional unpleasant surprise. Understandable, because they prefer not to do it or experience it. But I think it is a subtopic worth consideration. There is a lot of it in this world. One of the synonyms for surprise is ambush.

via: Ben: Been there and done that ... it is a very bad game ... one that is hard to break and hard to take ...

LEGS: I thought to give my husband a funny surprise when I made out the grocery list for him to purchase ... by placing "a mink coat" in the middle of the list of canned goods we needed. Instead, I was surprised when he came home chagrined and very sweetly apologetic saying he was so sorry he couldn't afford one for me that day ... I felt about an inch tall.

via: LEGS: That is so sweet ... he reversed the surprise on you ... bet he did not mean for you to feel small ...

LEGS: He was just a very serious person, and I think God brought us together to make me think and him laugh, which we did for almost 32 years together.

Ben: LEGS: "Mink coat" in a grocery list? That's cute! I would have responded exactly as your husband did.

alremkin: Regarding "ambush" when we become too callous to the thoughts and feelings of others, we in fact set our own ambush in that it's just a matter of time until we get unpleasant surprises from people telling us we've lost "touch" or doing things unpleasant thing to us we don't expect.

Ben: alremkin: Excellent point. Thank you. As they say, "What goes around comes around."

alremkin: Ben: Well, I tried to summarize the importance of surprise in my last statement, so in a sense surprise can be what brings us back "in touch" when we loose ourselves as so often happens in life here.

Ben: alremkin: Yes, as I said in my summary last session, surprise is a symptom of learning. Oftentimes a surprise brings us back in touch with reality. Or as they say, "Sometimes reality slaps us upside the head" -- and that is a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant.

alremkin: However, in the military sense, surprise is often the element that determines the battle, indicating the importance of being "in touch" again.

Ben: alremkin: Yes, achieving surprise is a large part of the art of military strategy and tactics, because it often makes a large difference in the outcome.

LEGS: Thinking on this, I wonder if that isn't the allure of fishing or hunting ... to surprise oneself with the "catch" or "bag" ... always hoping for the big surprise of a prize take.

alremkin: LEGS: Yes, as in military surprise awareness, being in touch, tuning in all are needed, and in personal life as well, unpleasant surprises are much more likely when we're unaware.

LEGS: When you think about it, the Geico commercials all show deliberate unpleasant surprises for someone in the commercial ... the "good news" ones.

Ben: LEGS & alremkin: It would be good if people would study the art of causing pleasant surprise as thoroughly as they have studied the (military) art of causing unpleasant surprise.

alremkin: Ben: The thought just came to me, when we give pleasant surprises they are freely given, but unpleasant ones are when we take a head space or as in military political control from another. It seems the world is more prone to taking than giving, the core of the problem here on Earth ...

LEGS: This a tarot card : XV the Devil ... Addiction ... The closer you are to your truth, the more you see it's irony. Accept paradox. Dance on earth. Take joy in body and the material, but never become it's slave ... however, it tells us to be aware, as alremkin has been saying

alremkin: LEGS: I think that as we get older our head space is certainly one of the most important things as well proper nutrition.

LEGS: *smiling* in the Dallas paper today they told of a man who will be 100 actual years old tomorrow and only 25 leap year birthdays old ... his comments sound as though he always looks for the pleasant things in life. This man still drives himself at least twice a week to deliver home grown vegetables to his friends ... the staff at one of the universities ... he tends his own house and garden and attends church regularly and has never smoked or drunk alcoholic beverages ... but has a wonderful sense of humor.

Ben: LEGS: The oldest man in the United States just died in Clinton, Maryland. He was 114 years old.

LEGS: Yes, I heard about that, Ben ... and last August I was doing therapy with the daughter of a woman here in Plano who was to be 113 on her birthday in September ... I think she made it ...

Ben: Born in 1890, he saw the light of day in three centuries.

LEGS: That is a fascinating thought, Ben ... overwhelming, really ... three centuries

alremkin: I suppose there must be fairly good quality of life for someone to live to be 100 or more, although I tend to think if I live to be 80 or 90 reasonably good quality of life that's good enough because there's life after we pass from here. I think it's possible to put too much importance on how long we stay here. I think my focus should be on trying to be my best and assisting others to be their best as well.

LEGS: Would that more people thought the same, alremkin

Ben: alremkin: I have considered the spiritual implications of causing pleasant and unpleasant surprise. Interesting. Either type of surprise can be caused with or without spiritual attachment.

LEGS: With or without spiritual attachment ... that surprises me, Ben ... the real age tip today stated that people live longer when they have a spiritual focus in their lives ... do you agree with that?

alremkin: Ben: Yes, but with spiritual attachment surprise is much more likely to be pleasant, imho

Ben: alremkin: In either case, surprise caused with attachment binds the one who caused it; surprise caused without attachment does not bind the one who caused it. That's why a free gift should be freely given, with no strings attached.

alremkin: Ben: Ah, like love ...

Ben: alremkin: Yes. Good point. Love (agape) sets free because it attaches no strings.

LEGS: That is the best love? ... agape?

alremkin: LEGS: Two meanings for the word agape -- #1. with mouth wide open #2. non-erotic love ... the love of God

Ben: LEGS: Yes, agape is divine love, the kind of love that blesses and does not curse, gives and expects no return.

LEGS: *laughing* my grandmother was a great one for giving with attachment ... she watched over her gifts to be sure they were properly appreciated, used, and cared for ... stored or in plain view, bragged on and endlessly thanking her for the gift was what she liked best about giving anything.

[Ben: LEGS: And thereby she gave the recipients of her gifts the power to make her happy or unhappy, accidentally or intentionally,  just by the way they responded to her gifts. This shows why we are taught to give freely. Gifts freely given set the giver free of the recipient's response.]

Ben: ALL: OK, this is the end of the second hour. Time for me to rest. I enjoyed the discussion tonight. Thanks to all who participated. Peace and blessings to each of you. *poof*

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