Surprises (Or Not!!)

November 2013. Originally copyrighted and posted in "Type for Life" by the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type, Gainesville, FL. Used with permission.

Every morning I open my e-mail. I suppose that experience always qualifies as a surprise since I never know for sure what will be in the inbox. One morning I found a request from the son of a friend of mine. He was organizing a surprise birthday party for his Mother but wasn't sure how to get ahold of her friends to invite them.

Would I please forward the invitation? So I did, carefully eliminating his Mother's email from the address lines…or so I thought…but of course, I missed one. She got the email!

I felt awful. No way to recover from this one. Except of course, that there is. It turns out that she hates surprise parties.

Her family used my mistake to have a conversation about the type of party she would really like to have and who to invite. I would have missed some of her friends since our circles do not overlap.

The party was lots of fun. Her husband jokingly shut the door in my face when I walked up the sidewalk, but then gave me a hug. Stories were told about my mistake.

A few days later I was listening to a public radio show on travelling and memorable trips. The travel expert was making the point that the most memorable trips are those in which something goes wrong — there's a surprise.

Yes, I do recall quite vividly being the victim of a theft on a train to Amsterdam, losing my purse with my passport, my money, my ticket, and my wallet photos, etc.

But it was the kindness of the police and the helpfulness of the KLM employees that helped me get through it and get on a plane a day later with an upgrade. And when the purse made it back a year later via the U.S. Embassy with the things I most cared about inside, well, that was a wonderful surprise.

One of the things I like best about traveling is that there are always surprises — a spectacular view, a special museum, an incredible sunset, a new experience (tandem bicycling), some interesting people, getting lost (and reoriented), and more.

On a recent trip, we came across a real surprise of a museum — the Grohmann in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Who knew that sculptures and pictures of people working could be so fascinating! And the commentary explaining some of the work was incredible.

For example, in describing the work of a cooper (those barrel makers of yesteryear), there was a whole paragraph just about the sizes of the barrels and the particular name for each size. I felt I was in another world.

And the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan…ever heard of an art museum where the washrooms are among the highlights and where you're encouraged to visit both the men's and the women's?

There are different kinds of surprises - some you welcome, and some you don't. And there are different kinds of people.

So, do Extraverts like surprises more than Introverts because surprises engage them quickly with the outside world?

Do Intuitive types like surprises more than Sensing types because a surprise offers a new possibility?

Do Perceiving types like surprises more than Judging types because surprises lend themselves to flexible approaches?

What do you think? Does your type like surprises? Do you?