Recently, I attended a high school dance team competition in which my daughter was competing. Since over 50 other teams were competing that day, I nearly went into a coma waiting for her team to perform. Just as I was about to slip out of my seat, one of my favorite songs from my own high school days began to play over the loud speaker. It was Rock and Roll All Nite by KISS. And in an instant, I was wide-awake and dancing in my seat.

[sociallocker id=”1846″] That night I went home, popped in a CD and cranked up the same song on our stereo. It sounded much better than it did at the gym, but this time it failed to move me like before.

Years ago I went on a ride called The Scream at a local amusement park. The ride shoots you up a couple of hundred feet in the air, leaves you briefly suspended in the air, then unexpectedly drops you in a freefall. The ride up was great. The ride down was great. But waiting for the drop was almost unbearable. Of course, that’s what made it fun.

But soon, I figured something out. The wait was always exactly the same length of time. Five seconds, if I remember correctly. Once I figured this out, I could anticipate the freefall precisely and, voila, the terror of the experience was gone. But so was the thrill.

I love the movie The Silence of the Lambs and have at least two copies in our DVD library. Recently, I stumbled across a “cleaned up” version of the movie playing on television. Though the movie was near the midpoint, I kicked up my feet and settled in to enjoy the show.

At the first commercial break, it dawned on me that I could pop in a DVD and watch it uncut and without interruptions. And that’s exactly what I did. But somehow it didn’t have the impact that it did just moments ago so I turned it off and went back to channel surfing.

You may notice a pattern here. In fact, it’s easy to see when you place these situations along side one other. But when you’re living them, along with hundreds of other situations in between, the pattern isn’t so easy to see. And that’s a shame because the lesson is a great one.

While we love to be able to control and predict the circumstances of our lives, we often take the greatest joy from the little surprises that meet us along the way.

Originally published April 25, 2006