The Magic of Surprise

August 3, 2015

I was visiting a friend at her new abode when I stumbled across an old favourite of mine: a puzzle. There it was, in all its glory - a 500-piece puzzle on the dining table. Its presence was both odd and enchanting to me…

An hour later, after a glass of wine or two, there we were. A group of twenty-something adults, hunting through the pieces, trying desperately to find that one piece with red in the corner, a blue dot and a smudge of yellow.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Susana Fernandez at

Seeing the puzzle immediately took me back to childhood. To the time when the world was new, discovery was alive, and colouring in was a skill to master. To a time when learning wasn’t done through a textbook or the internet, but via song, dance, whimsy, colour, magic and surprise. When our younger selves were imaginative, boundaryless, and didn’t know any better.

A fantastic recent example of a brand capturing childhood is S7 Airlines’ 'Fly to Anywhere you can Imagine' campaign. It’s a wonderful exploration of the unbiased whimsy and imaginations of a group of children, as they chat about and create their own perfect world. Their ideas and comments surprise us, the adult viewer, and ultimately challenge our predisposed views of the world that we live in. 

As adults, we seem to have lost these whimsical elements of childhood. Childhood is defined as a life stage through which one must pass through. But childhood doesn’t have to end. Just because you no can longer eat off the kids menu or get cheap tickets at the movies doesn’t mean you can’t be young.

And it doesn’t mean that you can’t be surprised…

The world has become increasingly constructed and planned. Like others, I have my routines and expectations. I know how I like my coffee, I know what to expect from my favourite TV shows, and I plan my work and social activities in my diary. I’ve created a world that makes me happy and suits me just fine, but there’s little surprise in it…

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Tetsumo at

Our recent Big Picture Event, Into The Unknown, was my first dive into exploring the idea of surprise. It was a night where us adults were treated to those concepts we often put to the side – discovery, exploration and surprise.

On the night we were challenged to think about the role of discovery in our lives. We debated whether there was anything truly left to discover in the world, and whether the nature of the world we live in was inhibiting our opportunities to discover.

We were immersed in the experience of discovery and surprise. Smells were uncovered in The Alchemists room, and The Voyager’s room gave us great insight into the life of an urban explorer. We even undertook a conversation degustation (a menu of conversation topics, not food!) in The Philosopher’s room, which was particularly entertaining!

At the conclusion of the night we’d all discovered something new. Whether it was an idea, a new perspective on an old topic, or a deep personal experience, we walked away pondering something we hadn’t considered before, having embraced the unknown.

Since the event I’ve been leaving myself open to be imaginative, and discover the world. I’ve been closing my own personal rulebook, leaving my days free, and looking around.

Because, why should we always have to play by the rules? The magic of surprise is everywhere.


Thumbnail image via Flickr, courtesy of greg westfall at