Go for the surprise.

Photo credit: Alessio Lin via Unsplash

When was the last time you walked into someplace with no expectations of what was going to unfold? A coffeeshop, maybe, or a gym. Maybe your home at the end of a long day or after a vacation. Or even your kids’ room? Truly no idea what will happen, or what you will see.

What do we find when we do that?

Talking with a friend about traveling and her upcoming trip to New York, she mentioned that she had tickets to a show and she didn’t know what it was about. Jen laughed, saying she wasn’t even sure what kind of show it was — a musical or a play!

As she was telling me this, she admitted that she doesn’t really like musicals. She thought she should probably look it up to find out what she was even going to be seeing.

I was excited to tell her about a show I saw last fall. It wasn’t the show itself — which was amazing — as much as it was the conditions under which I saw it.

I was on a college tour with my daughter. We had seen several colleges already, had a few more to visit, and the trip had been going well. If you have a teenager (and the flexibility, and the money) I highly recommend making the time to do this.

We hit each school with fresh eyes and a rough plan. The whole trip was about newness and discovery, tinged with the sweet feeling of my 17-year old being on the verge of flight into young adulthood.

In the midst of our two-week trip, we spent a day in Manhattan so we could see a Broadway show. We were there for her, really, so I decided to let my daughter choose the show and go along with whatever she wanted.

As we wended our way in line at the TKTK booth, she started tossing out names of various shows she wanted to see. I was excited about a couple of them, particularly Matilda, which I’d heard was fantastic and I knew was about to close its Broadway run.

Then she chose Falsettos. I was stumped. I’d never even heard of it. I had no idea what it was about. She was very keen to see it, so I let go of my flickering disappointment. I said sure. We bought the tickets, took a quick shot of her holding them, and went to get some lunch before the show.

Walking around Times Square my daughter offered to tell me more about the show she was so excited to see. I decided to wait. It’s been a long time, I thought, since I- No, wait. I’ve *never* walked into a show with absolutely no idea of what it was about. Without hesitation, I chose the grand adventure.

Having made my choice to go in blind, I was now exhilarated about this show I knew nothing about. The whole experience took on a new dimension. Any Broadway show is an event. I was excited just to be there and seeing a show — a rare treat for us. But the whole thing was heightened by the sense of the unknown. What would I see? What would the story tell me? Would I like the music? Would I enjoy it? What was I about to experience?

As I was telling my friend Jen about all this, I watched her eyes widen.

‘How many times do we get a chance like that?’ she marveled. In that instant she decided: ‘I’m not going to look up the show! I’m going to go in with no preconceptions and just watch. Oh wow. Thank you!’

Watching this prospect unfold across my friend’s face was so fun. She was delighted by the anticipation of discovery and newness. And it reminded me why that choice in the middle of Times Square had been so important to me.

Did I enjoy the show we saw that day? It was raw, and wrenching, and incredibly well done. So yes, I did. It was everything I hope great theatre provides — emotion, insight, transformation. More than that, though, going in without expectations was so freeing. Letting my daughter choose a show she was excited to see opened the door to letting myself be completely open and fresh to a new experience.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our daily life, in our expectations — of situations and of other people. We lose out on the spectacular little miracles happening all around us. And in doing so we lose out on something else, something more personal and intimate.

Go for the surprise. And let it show you someplace new inside you.

Like what you read? Give Muffie Waterman a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.