Art, comedy, ideas, food, music, travel, anything outstanding, all have one thing in common : surprise. It’s the unexpected, the little extra twist, the something slightly dissonant, the pop, the flash, the out of the blue deviation that turns unmentionably mediocre into marvelously meritorious. It often doesn’t require much to distinguish the ho-hum from the inspired. A subtle move off-center or a nudge to the left could be all it takes. But it cannot be a mistake. Intention carries weight; mishap is sloppy. Admittedly, happy flukes happen. When they do they need to be grabbed with an open mind and messaged with deliberation. More often though, we don’t get so lucky. That’s when we need to resist the obvious and a veer off in a new direction to search for the curious.

I was watching a Sci-Fi movie the other night. From the start it was trying too hard. In an attempt to be philosophically deep its only accomplishment was trying the viewer. Not a good sign, but I gave it a chance. Late in the all too predictable story, when the romantic characters finally meet face to face, I spoke their lines verbatim just a moment before they did—twice. That was it for this dog, no more chances. Bore-ring. If I can predict the next line, it’s lame. The writers were too caught up in the obvious. They couldn’t see how their trite, unimaginative plot and dopey dialog was plaguing the entire film. With a little resistance and a fresh perspective the movie could have been a grabber.

If there’s one thing in common with all the best, it’s that there’s (at least) one thing not common. Start [radical], add [intelligent design], and finish with a splash of surprise. 

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